By the time you turn 28, you will probably have a career and possibly a family. When you want to make big purchases like buying the car of your dreams or buying a house to raise a family, your credit score becomes more important than ever. Your credit score is also referred to as a FICO score and is typically a number between 300 and 850. Bank lenders who will loan you money for a house or a car will look at this score very carefully before lending you the money and deciding your interest rate. According to the article Starting Out by Kelly K. Spors in The Wall Street Journal, FICO scores above 760 qualify you for the best loan terms, while scores below 600 can mean unappealing terms and higher interest rates – or bar you from getting a loan all together. The breakdown of the FICO score includes a 35% weighting for payment history; 30% for the amount owed, especially as compared to your credit limits; and 15% for the length of your credit history. Also, having too many credit inquiries and loan applications by you or too many accounts opened in a short time can hurt your score.
So I made a mistake, how do I improve my credit score?
1. The first thing to do is to start paying your bills on time. If you have Internet access, it may be a good idea to set up an automatic bill pay (either through your bank's website or the actual credit card or loan company's website). This way, the bill will be deducted out of your checking account at the same time every month and will reduce your chances of your payment being lost in the mail. Paying your bills on time every month for about a year will dramatically improve your score.
2. The second thing to do is to check your credit report from all three major credit bureaus once a year. If you check it more than once a year, this may hurt your score. You can access your report for free at http://www.annualcreditreport.com . Be careful, many sites say they provide free credit reports but there is often a catch. Identify inaccurate information in your credit report and write a letter to the addresses listed below explaining your situation.
Equifax PO Box 740241 Atlanta, GA 30374
Experian PO Box 2104 Allen, TX 75013
TransUnion PO Box 2000 Chester, PA 19022
3. The third thing to do is to be smart with your credit. This means avoiding mall shopping sprees or playing online poker. Use your credit cards wisely. It is also smart to keep your credit card balances at 30% or less of your limit. This keeps your score up and leaves room on your credit card for emergencies like auto repairs and house repairs.
Copyright 2006 Debt Management Credit Counseling Corp.