Add “Credit Score” to Your Fall To-Do List

The changing of the seasons means your “To-Do” list is inevitably growing. It probably goes something like this: 1. Switch out summer clothes, 2. Paint the fence before it gets too cold, 3. Make holiday arrangements, 4. Check my credit score…. wait, what was that last one? Yes, check your credit score. Add that to the list now and you’ll be good to go for the next 6-12 months. Here’s how you can make sure to stay on top of your credit score…

Need Credit or Insurance? Your Credit Score Helps Determine What You’ll Pay

Ever wonder how a lender decides whether to grant you credit? For years, creditors have been using credit scoring systems to determine if you’d be a good risk for credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages. These days, many more types of businesses — including insurance companies and phone companies — are using credit scores to decide whether to approve you for a loan or service and on what terms. Auto and homeowners insurance companies are among the businesses that are using credit scores to help decide if you’d be a good risk for insurance. A higher credit score means you are likely less of a risk, and in turn, means you will be more likely to get credit or insurance — or pay less for it.

What can I do to improve my score?

Credit scoring systems are complex and vary among creditors or insurance companies and for different types of credit or insurance. If one factor changes, your score may change — but improvement generally depends on how that factor relates to others the system considers. Only the business using the scoring knows what might improve your score under the particular model they use to evaluate your application.

Nevertheless, scoring models usually consider the following types of information in your credit report to help compute your credit score:

  • Have you paid your bills on time? You can count on payment history to be a significant factor. If your credit report indicates that you have paid bills late, had an account referred to collections, or declared bankruptcy, it is likely to affect your score negatively.
  • Are you maxed out? Many scoring systems evaluate the amount of debt you have compared to your credit limits. If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit, it’s likely to have a negative effect on your score. A good rule of thumb is to always keep your balances at no more than 30% of your limit.
  • How long have you had credit? Generally, scoring systems consider the length of your credit track record. An insufficient credit history may affect your score negatively, but factors like timely payments and low balances can offset that.
  • Have you applied for new credit lately? Many scoring systems consider whether you have applied for credit recently by looking at “inquiries” on your credit report. If you have applied for too many new accounts recently, it could have a negative effect on your score.

How many credit accounts do you have and what kinds of accounts are they? Although it is generally considered a plus to have established credit accounts, too many credit card accounts may have a negative effect on your score.

Improving your score significantly is likely to take some time, but it can be done.

Credit scores and credit reports:

Your credit report is a key part of many credit scoring systems. That’s why it is critical to make sure your credit report is accurate. Federal law gives you the right to get a free copy of your credit reports from each of the three national consumer reporting companies once every 12 months (some state laws allow for you to get a free copy of your credit report 2-3 times a year). I personally recommend you check your credit report every 6 months.

To order your free annual report from one or all the national consumer reporting companies, and to purchase your credit score, visit http://www.annualcreditreport.com/, call toll-free 877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P. O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

For more information on credit scoring and how it could impact your ability to purchase and or refinance a home contact Brandon Byrd with LoanSouth Mortgage at 404-915-8252 or by email at bbyrd@loansouth.com.

Source: MyFico.com and FTC.gov

posted: Sep 27, 2010 | No Responses

Posted by:  Brandon Byrd

Brandon is one of our expert presenters at our Home Buyer Seminar. If you have questions about mortgages or getting pre-approved, contact Brandon!

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