Considering, the recent data breach at Equifax, where about 143 million American consumers had their information exposed, we thought it might be a good idea to spend some time going over credit scores and why they are so important. Although, most of you are intimately familiar with credit scores, “about 45 million Americans do not possess 'traditional' credit scores.” So, it doesn’t hurt to have a quick overview for those who might be unfamiliar. A credit score is a rating based on your past experiences with credit that predicts how reliable you are at paying back a loan. Credit scores determine whether you qualify for a loan and what interest rate you pay. Credit scores can have a drastic effect on someone’s financial life depending on which side of the spectrum they fall on. According to an article written for Bloomberg, credit scores are “now an American totem of success or failure, hope or despair, security or risk. While there are competing models, almost anyone with a credit card knows that a number typically ranging from 300 to 850 hold huge sway over their financial life.” Credit scores are 3-digit numbers that can either open doors or slam them in your face.
It’s no wonder why some people are on the quest to have a perfect credit score. According to the same article, “Some 200 million U.S. consumers have FICO credit scores, while just under 3 million or about 1.4%, have perfect 850s.” The quest for a perfect credit score may not be an easy one (only 1.4% of the population have achieved this), but it takes commitment, careful monitoring, and intelligent financial decisions to get there. But, as mentioned, the positive benefits can be well worth the grind. While a perfect credit score is nice, it might be out of reach for most, the quest for a better credit score can be achieved by all and you most certainly don’t need a perfect credit score to receive a home loan. However, keep in mind, the higher your credit score, the more options you will have when acquiring a home loan. The good news is that we’re at a time where most American finances and credit ratings are in a good spot. Transparency and ease of access has made most of us credit conscious and instead of scores shrouded in mystery there are plenty of options to see where you rank in score and where you can go.
There is the obvious advice of paying off your credit cards on time and not missing payments over the course of several years. Below we’ve listed a few other ways to push your score up that may help you on your quest for a higher credit score.
- It is important to keep your debt level low compared to what you make.
- Do not use more than 30% of available credit per card and 10% across all cards.
- Make sure you spread your credit charges out across various cards, not just on one card.
- Take a higher credit limit but do not increase spending at all.
- Do not apply for multiple cards over a small period of time, applying for multiple cards rapidly puts a significant hit on your credit rating.
- The older a card is the better since length of credit history is a drastic modifier for credit rating.
- Don’t just take on one type of debt, auto loans, mortgages or other installment loans. It is important to not only have one.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to increase your credit score and it’s important to do so! Although, it might be difficult to reach a coveted 850 score, it’s certainly possible to work your way to a better credit score!
Woolley, Suzanne. "Obsessives Have Cracked the Perfect FICO Credit Score of 850."Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, 14 Aug. 2017. Web. 22 Sept. 2017.