How much do you know about your credit? If you’re like many people, the answer is “not enough.”
One of the best things you can do to pave the way for a better financial future is to focus on your credit today.
The most commonly used credit scoring systems are FICO and VantageScore. Credit scores range from 300 to 850. The higher your score, the less credit risk you pose to lenders, meaning they are more likely to approve you for low-interest loans.
Not only can a low credit score cause you to be rejected for a mortgage, but it can cause you to be charged more in interest on a car loan or even keep you from getting the job you want. Lenders, landlords and potential employers all make decisions about people based on their credit scores. Don’t leave your credit score to chance.
The good news is there are steps you can take to improve your credit. No matter how low your score is today, you can achieve a better score by making a few credit-savvy moves. If you’re ready to take charge of your credit and your financial future, get started on the following steps today.
Find out where you stand. Before you can improve your score, you have to know where you are starting from. Find out your credit score by going to Experian.com. Don’t be frustrated if your score is not where you want it to be. A credit score is only a current snapshot in time of your finances. This time next year you can be in a much better place.
Automate your bill payments. Lenders want to do business with people who pay their debts on time. As a result, late payments can do damage to your credit score. One of the best things you can do to improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time month after month. To avoid forgetting or paying late, automate your payments so you don’t even have to think about it.
Pay down credit card debt. Lenders want to know if you are overextended and owe more money than you can easily pay back. If you have a lot of debt, that will cause your credit score to drop. It’s best to use no more than 30 percent of your available credit so if you have $10,000 in available credit, you would want to use no more than $3,000 at a time. As you pay down debt, your credit score should improve.
Check for credit report mistakes. A potentially easy way to improve your credit is to check your credit report. There could be a mistake on your credit report that is bringing your credit score down. To get a free copy of your credit report, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. By alerting the credit bureaus of such a mistake and letting them take it off your credit report, you may pave the way for your credit score to rise a few points.
Your credit can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. By taking the time to learn some credit basics, your financial future will be brighter.
Check out HomeFree-USA’s upcoming events to learn more financial and homeownership.
Griffin is CEO/founder of HomeFree-USA (homefreeusa.org).