If you did'nt know this already, having a good credit score is more important than having a lot of cash. Putting aside the insanely rich, most people just don’t have that much cash laying around. Some of us have only have a few dollars left over after expenses. Some of us manage to save a few thousand dollars. But unless you have several hundred thousand dollars in cash, you’re going to need a good credit score to get around.
I know from personal experience that having a bad credit score prevented me from getting into apartment after my divorce. I argued with the property manager briefly saying “But I can pay you 2 years of rent up front! Why won’t you let me live here?” She explained that by law they are only allowed to accept three months rent plus the first and last months rent. However, my application to live in the apartment cannot be approved because of my bad credit! You can imagine my frustration. But I just wanted to share with you one example why having a good credit score is more important.
Your credit score is calculated using a something called FICO. It was created by Fair, Isaac Company. It basically takes into account how much debt you have and your payment history over time. If you’ve been making regular on time payments for years, then you probably have a great credit score. If you’ve been late recently, and I mean in the last 6 months, then your credit score is going to drop. And if you been making late payments over and over in the last 6 months to 2 years, your credit score is going to be very poor. If you have a lot of relative debt, which means all your credit cards are maxed out, then that will lower your credit score even more.
So what can you do if you have a low credit score? I’m going to give you a couple of strategies that attack the to biggest factors affecting your credit score.
1. If you have old accounts that are already paid off, don’t close them! Remember, you want to keep your available credit as high as possible for as long as possible. Having more credit available versus your debt improves your credit score.
2. If you have current credit cards with a balance, don’t pay them off right away. For example: You have a $3000 credit card. Every month you charge about $2000 to it, but you pay it off before the end of the month. Although this won’t hurt your credit score, it won’t help it either. You need to carry some portion of that balance over to the next month, even if it’s just $100. Remember – regular payments over time improves your score.
Some other things to consider. If you can only make one payment, pay your mortgage first! Followed by installment loans like your car payment, then your credit cards. When you have multiple payments of the same kind, (i.e. two car payments, five credit card payments), pay the one with the highest interest rate first. Even though nothing feels better paying off a small balance and seeing $0 due, you will save more money in the long run paying off the higher interest rate balances sooner rather than later. This in turn will leave you more money to pay off the small balances.
All these strategies and tips will greatly improve your credit score over time. But there are ways to improve your score much more quickly. Get a copy of your credit report and look for errors. You’re allowed to see your credit report free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus: experian.com, Equifax.com, and transunion.com. If there are any errors, there are simple ways to have them removed. Sometimes it’s as simple as calling the creditor that reported the bad information. Sometimes you just need to write a letter challenging the error. Either way, removing errors in your credit report is the fastest way to improving your credit score.
For more information on improving your credit score and how to obtain your free credit report, visit: Free Credit Reports