Credit is definitely the kind of thing that when you need it, you really need it. You hear it over and over again – make sure you have good credit and maintain a good credit score. And if you’ve ever tried to apply for a car loan, lease an apartment or shop around for home mortgage you know how important it is. Having a good credit score means when you do go and apply for those loans, you’ll be approved with lower interest rates which depending on the size of the loan can end up saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Lower credit scores, often come with loan denials and even if you do get approved they come with much higher interest rates. That means a lot more dough out of your pocket in the long run.
But we’re all human and mistakes with our credit can happen if we’re not careful. It did to me. I’ve always been vigilant about keeping my credit cards paid and on time to maintain a great credit score. But about two years ago I was in the middle of a move and a credit card I had on autopay raised the minimum monthly payment on the card without my knowledge and without notifying me (yes, they can do this and there are no laws stopping them). Even though payments were made, since the new minimum payment wasn’t being satisfied it was then considered late. I had no idea. This company filed a 30-day late payment mark against my credit and refused to remove it even though they removed all fees, acknowledged there was no communication and apologized for the situation.
Even after years of great payment history, this one little mistake caused a huge 65+ point dip in my credit. And once your credit dips you quickly realize how it affects just about every aspect of your financial life and financial freedom. Unless you have the cash you can no longer just go out and buy a house or car or home. The fact is that lower credit scores can cost you big $$$. After diligent work, I’m almost back to the credit score I once had of 750+. Luckily our credit scores aren’t set in stone and it’s never too late to get it back on track.
If you’re looking to rebuild or repair your credit here are some tips to getting your credit soaring again.
1. Know What You’re Working With… Get Your Credit Report
Unfortunately, acting as if your credit doesn’t exist isn’t going to make it any better. The first thing to do when you make the decision to repair your credit is to get your credit report to find out what your scores are and what if any negative marks you may have. The Federal Trade Commission has made a law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) that makes you entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months. It will have all three nationwide credit reporting agencies scores and give you the information you need to get started on your credit repair journey. Even if you know you’re doing everything right, there may be information on there that isn’t correct and affecting your score.
2. Always Get Those Payments in on Time
This one might seem obvious, but it’s the number one best habit when either trying to raise your score or keep it on track. If you find it difficult to remember when your credit card payments are due, set up alerts on your phone or mark a calendar on your wall. Setting up autopay for as many payments as possible can help keep you on track as well. But even with autopay be sure to learn from my mistake and check in with your accounts to make sure they are being processed correctly. And remember you don’t need to carry a monthly credit card balance to build your credit. Paying off your credit card bills every month can have just as effective.
3. Stay Ahead of the Game by Monitoring Your Credit
Usually, when I hear words like “report” or “monitoring” I generally start daydreaming about my weekend plans. But listen to this…to get your credit game on point you need to know what you’re working with. And that means getting alerted to any changes (good and bad) to your credit. To make things easy (we like easy) CreditRepair.com’s credit monitoring technology which provides their members with a personal online dashboard, a credit score tracker and analysis, creditor and bureau interactions, with text and email alerts, mobile apps and credit monitoring.
Crazy Credit Fact: Right now millions of Americans have inaccurate or unfair negative items on their credit reports that are wrongfully hurting their score.
4. Change Your Spending Habits – Stop Whipping Out That Credit Card to Buy Coffee
Credit cards are great to have, but if you are maxed out or close to maxing them out your credit score will suffer. Lenders typically like to see low utilization ratios of 30% or less. That means if you add up the total credit lines across all your credit card lines, anything over 30% can negatively affect your credit score. That also means stop using them frivolously for daily frivolous things like coffee. In fact, just stop using them unless it is an absolute and total emergency. And no, getting front row Taylor Swift tickets or that new $200 of limited edition sweatshirt that is most definitely going to be crumpled up in the bottom of your closet three months from now are not emergencies. To keep from using them literally take the credit cards out of your wallet and put them in your nightstand or a locked box so you aren’t tempted.
5. Whatever You do, Don’t Close Credit Card Accounts
I get it. You want to get serious about your finances and boosting that score. But did you know closing out credit card accounts when you still have a balance can hurt your score? Do you know that utilization score we just dished about? Canceling out cards will lower your overall available credit amount while raising your credit utilization which can generally lower credit scores.
A smarter credit-building strategy is to keep unused card accounts open and not using them while paying others down.
6. Don’t Obsess. Building Your Credit Back Takes Time
There’s a lot of things that factor into how your credit score is calculated including payment history, credit length, balance amounts, whether you have a mix of credit (credit cards are different than a mortgage, school, and car loans) if there’s any negative reports and more. Realize that while it might take months for some to build their credit, it may take a year or two or more for others. The most important thing is committing to financial freedom and taking charge of your credit score to get back on track.
7. Don’t Beat Yourself up Get Help if You Need It
While a great credit score can be important in helping you achieve some of your life’s financial and lifestyle goals it’s still just a number. With time and a little diligence on your part, it will get better over time. Yes, a good credit score can just help you achieve your dreams and live your life a little extra. But it’s not written in stone are you are more than a credit score. If you want to fix your credit but feel overwhelmed, call CreditRepair.com for a free consultation. With over 500,000 clients already served, they have professionals that can help guide you through the confusing and sometimes stressful credit repair process.
What is your bad credit is costing you?
CreditRepair.com is a trusted leader in credit repair! Visit them today to start climbing back to the top. Know your credit, repair your reports & live your life.