Having a low credit score can cost you. If you have a credit score of 620 or below, this is considered to be “bad credit.” Lenders or credit card issuers, if they are willing to extend you credit at all, are likely to charge you a higher interest rate. You may also have to pay a utility deposit when starting or renewing service, something people with good credit do not have to pay. Having a bad credit score can even effect how much you pay for car insurance.
Now onto the good news- there are things you can do to improve your credit score. Following these easy steps will help push your score in the right direction.
- Watch your credit card balances. A major factor in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you are using. The smaller the percentage, the better your credit rating. The ideal amount is 30 percent or lower.
- Eliminate small credit card balances. When you have small balances on credit cards, pay them off. Charging $50 on one card and $100 on another instead of using the same card (preferably one with a good interest rate) can hurt your credit score.
- Leave “old debt” on your report. Some people believe that old debt on their credit report is a bad thing. Good debt- such as a home or car you recently paid off – is actually good for your credit. Do not close out old accounts where you have had a solid repayment history.
- Use your calendar. If you are shopping for a home, car or student loan, it pays to do your rate shopping within a short period of time. Every time you apply for new credit, it can cause a small dip in your credit score, which can last up to a year.
- Pay your bills on time. If you are planning a major purchase (like a home or car), one of the biggest factors in having a good credit score is simply making on-time payments month after month. Saving up money for a major purchase is smart; just don’t neglect your bills. This can even extend to outstanding library books. If the original creditor, such as the library, does not report it to the bureaus, they may eventually call in a collections agency to recoup the unpaid bill.
- Avoid risk. One of the best ways to improve your credit score it to avoid purchases that might lower it. This could include taking out cash advances, using cards at businesses that could cause future money stress, etc.
- Do not obsess. If you are getting ready to make a big purchase, pull a copy of your credit report. You are entitled to one of each of your three credit bureau reports (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) for FREE every year through AnnualCreditReport.com. While the score you receive may not be the exact one the lender uses, it will grade you on many of the same criteria. If you are denied credit, the lender has to show you the credit score used in their decision making, thanks to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
If you are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all 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.