Improve Your Credit Score, Improve Your Life
You are probably tired of hearing about the importance of checking your credit score regularly. But an ostrich with their head in the sand is an easy target for lions, and if you are not regularly checking your credit reports, you may fall prey to increasingly worse financial difficulties.
What Is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a number used to convey how likely you are to repay lenders or become delinquent. Usually people are talking about a FICO score (developed by Fair Isaac Corporation), but there are other measurements. The big three credit agencies all use FICO scores (as do most lenders) which are three-digit numbers from 300 (painfully low) to 850 (perfect). Calculations take a number of factors into consideration including your credit history, payment history and amount of debt.
Why Should I Check My Credit Score?
You should regularly check your credit reports and scores to avoid any bad surprises when you go to buy a car or a house, rent an apartment, consolidate student loans or even open a new credit card. If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to take action. Your credit score heavily influences how much credit financial institutions will extend to you, and therefore can have a big impact on your lifestyle.
You should also check to make sure your credit reports are accurate. A variety of errors can adversely affect your credit score. Perhaps you have paid a debt, but your report says you still owe it. Or you might even discover identity theft. If you need help sorting out mistakes, a good Florida debt defense lawyer can help you.
How Often and When Should I Check My Credit Score?
Due to the pandemic, you can request your credit reports every week from the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax now through April 2021 without paying a fee. Simply visit AnnualCreditReport.com. Normally, each of the three major agencies will provide you with a credit report once a year, which they are required to do so under The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Credit reports from the different agencies won’t be identical, but they don’t tend to vary wildly from each other. Since you can get all for free now, this is a great opportunity to check all at once. After April 2021, rather than checking them all at once, check one of them every four months in order to stay up to date throughout the year.
How Good (or Bad) Is My Credit Score
Ok, you’ve worked up your courage and checked your credit report. Now you need to know what your credit score means.
The below figures from poor to excellent are from the Equifax website.
- Below 580: Poor. If your rating falls below 580, you may have trouble even getting a credit card, and you may have to provide a deposit to utility companies.
- 580 to 669: Fair. Lenders consider scores in this range to be subprime borrowers. You may have some trouble qualifying for a loan, or you may get harsher terms. In other words, you may end up paying higher interest rates than you would have with a better credit score.
- 670 to 739: Good. Lenders generally consider scores in this range to be acceptable. This is the median range in the U.S.
- 740 to 799: Very good
- 800 and above: Excellent
Lenders look at factors beyond your credit scores when deciding whether to give you a loan, but it’s always important.
How Can I Improve My Credit Score?
- Consistently pay your bills on time. This makes up 35% of your FICO score.
- Keep up the good work. Your credit score will be helped if you keep making timely payments over the years. Length of credit history is a factor.
- Pay off your debts as fast as possible.
- Keep your credit card balances significantly under their limit. How much you owe compared to your available credit is important.
- Don’t apply for a lot of credit accounts especially not within a short period.
- Use different kinds of credit. If all your debt is credit card debt from several cards, your score is likely to be worse than someone who owes the same amount has just one credit card, a mortgage and an installment loan for a vehicle.
- Check your credit reports for inaccurate information and submit corrections if need be. Checking your own credit report is not going to adversely affect your credit.
How Can the Three Major Credit Agencies Help Me Monitor My Credit Beyond Yearly Reports?
Experian, Equifax and Transunion do more than just provide you with yearly credit reports. All can sell you additional services to help you monitor your credit. Check their websites to see what services each provides, but some of them include
- Credit alerts and updates
- ID theft insurance
- Locking and unlocking credit reports
- Monitoring the dark web for your social security number
- Projection of what actions you take (such as taking out a particular loan) will do to your credit score
Face the Music Sooner Rather than Later
Your credit score has a great deal of impact on your quality of life. If it is low, start working now to improve it. Don’t wait until you are turned down for a loan you need.
Debt Fighters Can Help You
If you are concerned that your debt is ruining our credit, or if you need help correcting errors on your credit report, don’t wait to act. Contact Michael Ziegler, PL, Attorney Debt Fighters for a free consultation by submitting this form or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora.
We can help you with credit report mistakes, debt consolidation, debt litigation defense, and, if it comes to it, bankruptcy. The sooner you contact us, the more options may be available to you. Video and phone consultations as well as in-person consultations are available.