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Improve Your Credit Score

Updated on March 30, 2017

Credit Scores: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

It is a bit unfair that people with poor credit scores are forced to pay more for their loans due to higher interest rates. But, from a bank / lender's perspective, it makes sense. They are taking a bigger risk in loaning money to people with lower credit scores since there is a greater risk of default. Low credit scores can even prevent people from obtaining financing for homes, cars, or any other purchase. On this hub, we will discuss some basic ways to improve your credit score:

  • Make all your credit card or other loan payments on time, without exception
  • Use your credit and pay it off
  • Do not apply for too much credit in a short period of time
  • Establish credit as early as possible to increase the age of credit lines
  • Steer clear of bankruptcy and judgments
  • Keep older credit accounts to increase the average age of your credit
  • Subscribe to a credit monitoring service or bank with a company that sends alerts

Making All Credit Payment on Time

This may seem quite obvious, but the single most important action you can take is to use credit and make all payments in a timely fashion. If you miss a payment and it runs more than 30 days late, you may have a fairly permanent problem with your credit which could take you years to correct. In the unfortunate event that you miss a payment for whatever reason, immediately reach out to the credit card company or other loan issuer. Inform them that you will make the payment immediately and that you are requesting that they not report it to the credit bureaus. Even if this time has already passed, you may be able to get them to cancel it or correct it. Take them through your good history and be very apologetic.

Your on time payment of your loan installments is the single greatest factor in your credit score. Miss payments or make late payments and your credit will be terrible.

Limit Hard Credit Inquiries

Hard credit inquiries occur when you are apply for credit. Examples of this are: applying for mortgages, credit cards, car loans, or even signing up for a new mobile phone plan. These inquiries appear on your credit report and all potential creditors see them. Too many of these inquiries over a short period of time can hurt your credit score and make it more difficult to obtain credit. The total number of inquiries is not what matters. Rather, when you have multiple inquiries on your report over a short period of time, this can be an issue. This is not as important as using your available credit and making all payments on time, but it is definitely a factor to keep in mind. If you are applying for a big, important loan anytime in the next few months, try not to make other applications.

Steer Clear of Legal Troubles

It's always a good idea to stay out of legal troubles. The pursuit of good, solid credit is no exception. if a creditor obtains a judgment against you for failing to make loan payments, this is a serious impediment to good credit. Judgments are bad. There is no way around that and it is indisputable that they will seriously harm your credit.

Bankruptcy is not the disaster for your credit as it used to be, but for 7 years, a bankruptcy remains on your credit report and will most likely prevent you from getting a mortgage. You can still build your credit score with credit cards, but the presence of a bankruptcy will raise an immediate red flag. That being said, you should not be afraid to consult with a bankruptcy attorney if needed. The laws are on the books for a reason.

Credit Monitoring Services

There are many services available which can help you keep an eye on your credit. Both in terms of the score and guarding against identity theft, these services can be a great safeguard for your credit. By checking recent inquiries, you can make sure no one took out loans in your name. Knowledge is power. American Express Credit Secure and free services like Credit Karma can help you keep an eye on your credit.

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