Your credit score can range anywhere from between 300 to 850. And we all know, the higher the number, the better. Your credit score, also referred to as your FICO number is what lenders use to determine how much to lend you and what your interest rate will be when applying for a mortgage, car loan, credit card or student loan. A recent survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling revealed that people are more embarrassed to admit their credit score (30%) than their weight (12%).
Below are some immediate steps you can take to raise your score FAST:
1.) Dispute Errors. Mistakes happen. Order a copy of your credit report for free by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Analyze the report for accuracy and dispute any errors immediately.
2.) Negotiate. You cannot deny that you stopped paying a credit card bill because you lost your job last year, but you can request that the creditor “erase” that debt or any other credit account that went into collections. Write a letter that offers to pay the remaining balance if the creditor will report the account as, “paid as agreed.” They may even remove it all together. You will never know unless you try.
3.) Check your limits. Make sure your reported credit limits are current. You do not want it to look as if you are maxing out plastic each month. If your card issuer forgot to mention an increased credit limit you are entitled to, request it.
4.) Get a credit card. If you use a credit card wisely (i.e. not charging too much, making payments on time, etc.) this will do good things for your score.
5.) Under-use your cards. Keep in mind, the “credit utilization ratio” is no more than 30% and ideally even less. Credit experts advise that a 10% credit utilization ratio will “maximize your FICO score.”
6.) Raise your credit limit. Request that your creditors increase your limit. However, this only works if you can trust yourself not to increase your spending limit.
7.) DO NOT close any cards. Canceling a credit card will cause your available credit to drop, which will not look good to the bureaus. One way to keep a card active is to use it for a recurring charge, such as an electric or phone bill.
8.) Mix it up. Using a different kind of credit can boost your score. For example, you can take out a small personal loan from a credit union to buy a piece of furniture or appliance. However, ONLY do this if you are 100% sure you can meet the payment schedule.
9.) Pay your bills on time. Your payment history makes up a whopping 35% of your FICO score. If you have a problem paying your bills on time, whether you are a busy working parent or simply absent-minded at times, automate your payments. This is an easy solution to this problem and a much needed time saver.
10.) Pay your bills twice a month. Using too much of your credit limit at any time does not look good. Make one payment just before the statement closing date and the second one right before the due date. The first payment will help you decrease the balance that the credit bureaus will see, the second ensures you will not pay interest or a late fee.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.