In today’s world your credit score has become more than important, it has become essential. Everything from your car insurance rate to your chance of getting a job now hinges on the numerical value of a special algorithm’s opinion of your ability to pay the bills. So what can you do when your credit rating is not so great?
Here are ten free ways to improve your credit score.
#1: Know your score, and know it’s accurate.
You can check your credit report for free by visiting www. Annualcreditreport.com. Unfortunately, catchy commercials and jingles aside, there is no site that actually offers a free credit score without a catch. In all cases you will be asked to join a free trial, and if you cancel the trial in time the score is free. www.freecreditreport.com is an example of a site that provides this type of “free score”.
There are three major companies that report credit, and they do not always have the same information. You need to check all three, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. There is also a FICO score. This 4th score is an average of your three credit scores. When attempting to improve your score, work with a FICO site. This allows you to see the impact you are having on your overall score. www.myfico.com offers a free thirty-day trial that will help you improve your score.
Chances are you will find at least one inaccuracy on your report. Now you can dispute this inaccuracy in writing to the credit companies. Removing inaccuracies can boost a score dramatically. You also know what is negatively affecting your credit score to repair it.
#2: Check your ratios
If you have a credit card that is near or at its limit, even if you’ve never missed a payment, this card is still hurting your score. You can fix this by paying any cards down to at least 30% of their maximum; 10-30% is that magic place that makes a card active, but not over-used.
Alternatively, you can simply ask for a limit increase on your card. Try to keep no more than three credit cards.
#3: Keep credit active
A closed credit card will hurt your score more than having many credit cards open. Don’t close credit cards, even if you don’t use them. This keeps their long-term history on your credit. The length of time you have had credit will affect your score.
#4 Credit History
Which brings me to tip number four – if you lack of credit history your only option is something called “piggy-backing.” Ask a close friend or relative that has long-term credit cards that don’t have a balance over 30% to add you as an authorized user. Their good payments and history will be added to your score, boosting it for free.
#5 Pay on time
This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how much even one late payment affects your credit score. The more consecutive months you go without a late payment the better.
#6 Communicate with your creditors
If you have good payment history but you ended up making one late payment, give them a call. In most cases, an explanation and a request to have the late payment blemish removed actually works.
#7 Pay off old debts
There is just no other way around it. If you have any unpaid bills, they are devastating your score. You can also attempt to dispute them with the credit company. If they can’t prove you owe the debt it will be removed.
Smaller installment loans for things like furniture, store credit lines, or even secured bank credit cards will show as a different type of credit than credit cards. Buying a $500 mattress and getting a small loan to pay for it may cost you a little extra in interest, but it will improve your credit score.
#9 Don’t over-apply
Inquiries will hurt your credit score as well. Avoid applying for a great deal of credit-based items, especially if you plan to buy a home soon. A new credit card, for example, can drop your score by as much as ten to twenty points, so by not doing this you increase your score for free. Tip 8 should also be ignored if you plan on applying for a home loan soon.
#10 Add information
This is a little-known trick, if your credit report doesn’t include things like your birth date, current address, etc. adding this information will actually improve your score. Not a lot, but a little, and for free.
Following these ten steps will not only initially boost your score, but if you keep them up over time your score will continue to improve.