There are several things to know about your credit score, and I’m here to point you in the right direction. Your credit score is a three-digit number that essentially determines whether you can qualify for most credit cards and loans. While banks take other factors into consideration, such as your income and employment record, your credit score plays a pivotal role in the decision. The more things you know about your credit score, the better.
1. No Credit Score Can Be a Bad Thing
There are a few surprising things to know about your credit score. For example, having no credit score can be just as bad as having poor credit - at least from a lender’s standpoint. The sooner you establish credit, the sooner you can build your credit score and qualify for larger purchases, such as a house. Apply for a secured credit card or a retail store card, which are easier to get with no credit history.
2. Closing Accounts Can Lower Your Credit Score
Got too many credit cards and you want to close a few accounts? Don’t move so fast. While closing accounts may seem like a logical way to manage your debt, this move can reduce your credit score. The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your credit score. A better option: keep all accounts open to maintain a high score, or close your newest accounts to avoid shortening the length of your credit history.
3. Payment History is a Big Chunk of Your Score
With payment history making up 35% of your credit score, timeliness is key to a good credit rating. Never skip a payment and always pay by your due date. Can’t make your payment on time? Notify your creditor immediately and ask for an extension.
4. Unpaid Library Books Can Damage Score
I didn’t believe this at first. But in an effort to boost revenue, some local governments have started reporting library fines to collection agencies. Collection accounts are reported to the credit bureaus, and a collection can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Once a collection hits your account, expect a drop in your credit score.
5. Mistakes Can Cost You
One mistake by your creditor can bring down your personal credit score. Check your own credit report at least annually. Make sure all your information is accurate and report any mistakes to your creditors. By law, creditors have to investigate complaints and correct errors on your credit file.
6. Too Many Applications
Everyone loves a discount, and in order to take 10% off your purchase, you might willingly apply for retail store accounts. Complete too many applications and you can actually harm your credit score. Unknown to some, every credit application deducts about 10 points from your credit score. Spread out credit applications and only take on new accounts when necessary.
7. You Have to Use Credit
Having a credit account in your name isn’t enough to build a good score. You’ve got to use credit regularly. If you stop using your credit cards, creditors may classify your accounts as inactive and stop updating your credit file. This can trigger a stagnant credit score. Dust off your plastic and make small purchases here-and-there to keep your accounts active.
Your credit score is by far an important number in your life. Never think that it's overrated or doesn’t count in your ability to get loans.
Get serious about your score and future financing will be a breeze. What credit score mistakes have you made in the past? How did you fix these problems?