One little number can stand between you and getting approval for a variety of things ranging from renting an apartment to buying a new truck. Many different things factor into your credit score and so many variables can impact it in a negative way. It’s so important to understand what, how, and why when it comes this little number.
According to Equifax, a score under 580 is considered poor, while a score of 750 and up is excellent. If your number falls somewhere in the middle, you may have a fair or good rating. Different lenders set their own criteria for which scores they feel comfortable with, but if you need to improve then you’ve come to the right spot.
This seems a bit backwards however, getting a credit card is a great way to improve your credit score. Obviously, there are some major dos and don’ts but if you use it regularly and make the payments on time you are looking at one of the “easiest” ways to improve your score. You can always use it for reoccurring bills, like your water bill, and then pay off the balance just to get those good marks on your credit.
If you’re starting to build credit from scratch, or have poor credit, consider a secured credit card. This is a card you put down a deposit on, and the company uses that deposit as collateral. You use the card to make purchases and then make payments every month like a standard credit card. If you immediately pay off the balance after making the purchase, you can secure the benefits of building credit without the detriment of paying high interest. Many times, these secured cards will refund your deposit and offer you another line of credit over time.
Another way to improve your credit score is to comb through your credit report and pay off the things that may be negatively impacting it. The Federal Trade Commission recommends going here or calling 1-877-322-8228 to obtain a free copy of your report. You’ll have to verify your identity by answering some questions before you can get a copy. This is a great reminder for bills that may have gotten lost in the mail. You can also make sure no mistakes have been made that are adversely impacting your score. The people who report to these agencies are only human. Human errors happen and if you catch them you can dispute them.
A credit score is a snapshot of your likeliness to honor loan agreements and payment arrangements. Whether you’re trying to improve your score, or build on it from scratch, there are ways to change the numbers in your favor. So, take the time to make sure it’s accurate and work toward moving the needle to open the door to your dream purchases.