In a relatively short period of time, it’s possible to take a damaged credit history and turn it around. Your FICO score is important, but banks and finance companies also look at other factors before extending credit to consumers, like your payment history and account balances. Below are some basic things you can do to help ensure your credit success.
The single biggest component of your score and credit decision is how you pay your bills. The more bills you pay on time, the more confidence a new lender will have that you will pay them in the future.
Loan officers will likely look to see what your balances are as a percentage of your credit limit. Keeping your balances low shows that you can handle debt responsibly.
Many consumers who struggle with credit issues simply have no idea how much they’re spending each month. Keep track of your expenses, prepare a budget, and stick to it. You may be surprised how easy it is to eliminate unnecessary expenses and take control of your finances. Ideally, lenders want to see that you have managed your expenses to less than 30-40% of your gross monthly income. The lower the percentage, the better.
Too many open lines of credit send up a red flag with lenders. They’re often concerned that you may overburden yourself and become credit-stressed. It is wise to keep only those accounts you need. Hold onto your oldest accounts, because they demonstrate your ability to maintain credit over a longer period of time.
You should pay more than the minimum required each month on revolving accounts like credit cards. You’ll pay down your balance faster, and in turn, pay less interest.
Click here to learn more about how daily simple interest is calculated and how the timing of payments can impact the amount of interest you pay.
What’s in your credit report?
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction (FACT) Act, you’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months from each of three major credit bureaus.