One of the best things you can do to to improve your odds of purchasing big-ticket items such as cars and a home is to improve your credit score. It is also essential to be in good standing when applying for loans, mortgages, credit cards, and even some jobs. A minimum target is a score of at least 720, while 850 is the highest you can go.
Credit Bureaus Determine Your Fate
Three credit bureaus (the Big Three, as they say) tabulate Americans’ credit scores: Equifax, Experion, and Transunion. You might assume that these are government agencies, but you would be wrong. They’re independent companies in the business of calculating and reporting your score. The methods they employ to come up with your score and how to improve it are closely guarded secrets.
A Strategy to Improve Your Credit Score
Raising your credit score does not happen overnight; you have to work at it. How to go about it? There are various thoughts on the matter but Phil Tirone, author of the book 7 Steps to a 720 Credit Score, hits on 3 key points that everybody can agree on. Don’t fall for online scams that promise to magically raise your score. Rely instead on these principles.
- “Aim to have three credit cards—not just one or two—but never more than three. If you have more than that, pay them off and cancel them as soon as you can.”
- “Never use more than 30 percent of your credit limit. In other words, if you have a $10,000 credit limit, do not borrow more than $3,000.” To do so would be unwise in any event.
- “Have one paid revolving account—the kind you can maintain at a furniture store. Purchase something like a sofa and then pay it off. Use it every so often, and be sure to pay it off every time.”
One caveat here that he didn’t mention is to never be late on a payment. That will poison your attempt to raise your credit score. Automatic withdrawals are perfect for this. Set and forget.
A Higher Credit Score will Save You Money
For example, if an average consumer owns one credit card, one car loan and a house mortgage of $150,000 and raises his credit score by 50 points or so, he could save as much as $700 a month. Now why would that be? Because that makes him less of a risk. He can secure better terms and interest on a mortgage and more favorable car financing.
Consider what a benefit that $700/month is. The consequences are far-reaching. Typically Congress favors American taxpayers with about $700 every few years in the form of a tax rebate, and the economy gets a good bump. Imagine if every american were saving $700 a month and could use that to recharge the economy!
So now you know how to improve your credit score. The question is, “When?” The answer of course is, “Now!”
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