Credit scores are like report cards for grown‐ups. The score you get ranges from 300 to 900. Your score indicates your creditworthiness to potential lenders, banks, landlords, insurance companies, and even to some employers. The higher your score the better.
1. Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Make an inquiry once a year, twice is much better. If you are planning on purchasing anything that requires a credit check, keep track of your credit. This is something that is 100% in your control. As a consumer you have ability to make a soft/consumer inquiry to Equifax as many times as you want without it affecting your score. Here is a link to Equifax. If something doesn’t look right, contact the creditor immediately. Don’t wait to report an incorrect or fraudulent transaction. Is there an outstanding collection? If so, deal with it immediately, and by that I mean pay it. Then argue to get your money back. Do not leave this on your credit report hoping that it will disappear. No matter what, the collection will not be removed until it’s paid unless taken to litigation. Once dealt with, it will still take months to recover the points lost and 6 years to fall off your credit report.
2. NEVER Miss a Minimum Payment
Because this attributes to 35% of your overall score, delinquencies have the biggest negative effect on your credit score. If you have overdue bills, make the necessary arrangements with your creditors. They would much rather work with you than file collections against you. If you can’t pay it all back, it’s better to pay some.
3. Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts
Got a credit card that you have had ten years and hardly use? Keep it. It takes 12 years of history with the same specific card in good standing to crack 800 and enter that top 2% tier of quality credit. Cancelling a card can actually lower your score. Keep the old cards and only use them occasionally so the issuer doesn’t stop reporting your information to the credit bureaus. Having a long credit history helps increase your score. Don’t jump around to credit providers. Most ‘large’ providers have several different products. There is likely one that will fit your needs.
4. Never Max Out Your Credit Cards
A good rule of thumb when considering building your credit is to keep the balance at or below 30% of the limit. Furthermore, a balance of 50% of the limit will maintain existing levels and over 75% will start to decrease it. NEVER exceed the limit, by even a $1.
5. Don’t Look For More Credit
Don’t shop around for credit or open several credit accounts in a short period of time. It raises alarms at credit bureaus and financial institutions, especially when you don’t have a long‐established credit history. Work with your existing creditors, as there is more relevant history. They are more likely to work with you, especially if you are looking to resolve some credit hardship(s). Always ensure you give your permission before allowing a credit check.
6. Rule of 2
Ideally, you want to have 2 sources of credit solely in your own name for a minimum of 2 years with at least a $2,500 credit limit. This would be either 2 credit cards or one credit card and a line of credit. Ensure this is in addition to any joint accounts. Joint credit is only reported to the primary credit holders credit bureau and will not have any positive effect on the co-account holder.
If you ever have questions about your financial situation or want to discuss your credit score, please contact Dominion Lending Centres