Is better credit management one of your goals for the new year? Here are a few tips on how to help increase your credit score.
Stay current on accounts – Make it a point to stay current on all your accounts. Many people find it helpful to set up payment reminders or auto-pay so they don’t forget about the bill. If you’re using auto-pay, make sure to check that the funds are being deducted and reflecting on the account.
Opening new accounts – When you open a new credit account you are making your average age of credit younger, therefore your scores can drop. The older your credit the better it is for your score. Before opening credit take into consideration your timeline of applying for a major purchase like a new home or refinance. And of course, opening new accounts can cause a hard inquiry which are third party credit reviews, and this can also hurt scores.
Keep balances low – When you want your scores to be at their highest pay your credit cards down to 10% of the limit and try to keep a balance on fewer credit cards. Do this a few months prior to application or when your credit will be pulled. If trending data is going to be used for your application, then having low balances on credit cards for years in advance would be more helpful.
Become an authorized user – Becoming an authorized user on certain accounts with a friend or family member’s old credit card can give a boost to your credit. You will want to make sure it is much older than your accounts and it has great credit history (no late payments or negative information) as well as low balances. You do not have to use the account or even have a card to be listed as an authorized user or for the account holder’s credit to reflect on your own.
Stay active – When an account goes unused for an extended period, creditors reserve the right to close it. This can hurt your average age of credit and available credit. For instance, if a creditor closes an account scores can drop due to a change in your variety of credit. The account that closes can eventually drop off your credit and take away the average age of your credit, if the account is an old account. Therefore, make sure you’re using these accounts a few times a year even if it’s a small amount just to keep them active.
Pay attention – Legally each credit bureau must provide a free credit report to each consumer upon request annually. We recommend taking an extra step in credit protection by setting up credit monitoring. Keeping an eye on your credit reports and scores consistently is the best way to stay on top of what’s happening.
If your goals this year involve a large purchase like car or home – it’s important to hold onto these quick tricks for boosting your credit score. When it comes to being approved for a mortgage even a 10-point increase can mean a major difference in interest rate thresholds – this can translate into thousands-of-dollars over the life of a loan.