Improve Your Credit Score | Credit Report and Scores
The more you know about the factors that impact your credit score the better success rate in improving your credit score. If you don’t know your credit score there are a few way to get a free credit score.
1. Ask your bank or credit union. If you have a loan or credit card many financial institutions may offer to share the score used to determine your loan decision.
2. Many credit card companies also offer access to a credit score such as the USAA, Citibank and Discover Card for credit card members.
4. You can always pay to get a credit score directly from the credit bureaus or pay to get your FICO score through MyFICO.
|Rating||Website||Free Credit Scores||Free Credit Report Monitoring||Credit Bureau Used||ID Theft Protection||Full Review||Free Credit Score|
|1||Credit Sesame||Yes||Yes||TransUnion||Yes||Yes||Access Now|
|2||Credit Karma||Yes||Yes||TransUnion and Equifax||Yes||Yes||Access Now|
|3||Quizzle||Yes||No (Available Paid Upgrade)||Equifax||No (Available Upgrade)||Yes||Access Now|
|4||MyFICO||No||No (Available Paid Upgrade)||Experian||No||Yes||Access Now|
Credit Score Basics
Factors That Impact Your Credit Score
Credit scores are a reflection of how you’ve handled credit in the past and are used to determine your potential credit relationship in the future.
• Payment History (35%) – the largest percentage because paying on time is important for lenders to know.
• Amounts Owed (30%) – also known as capacity. It’s based on the amount of outstanding credit you have against your available credit limits.
• Length of Credit History (15%) – how long you’ve had credit plays a role on your credit score. Longer credit histories are viewed positively. Adding new accounts can lower your overall credit history length.
• Types of Credit in Use (10%) – this is based on the mixture of credit such as credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, auto loans, etc. A good variety is generally accepted as strengthening credit scores.
• Account Inquiries (10%) – applying for credit impacts your credit score and having too many recent loan applications (or inquiries) can have a major negative impact. Apply for credit when absolutely necessary.
Credit Score Ranges
The most commonly used credit score. The name comes from the Fair Isaac Corporation, which developed the scoring model. They are used to predict the likelihood that a person will pay his or her debts. The scores use only information from credit reports.
• FICO credit score range: 300 – 850.
• VantageScore credit score range(version 2.0 and earlier): 501 – 990
• VantageScore credit score range(version 3.0): 300-850
5 Questions to Ask To Improve Your Credit 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 system 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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. How long have you had credit? Generally, scoring systems consider your credit track record. An insufficient credit history may affect your score negatively, but factors like timely payments and low balances can offset that.
4. 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. Every inquiry isn’t counted: for example, inquiries by creditors who are monitoring your account or looking at credit reports to make “prescreened” credit offers are not considered liabilities.
5. 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. In addition, many scoring systems consider the type of credit accounts you have. For example, under some scoring models, loans from finance companies may have a negative effect on your credit score.
8 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
1. Make on-time bill payments.
One of the best things you can do for your credit is to pay your bills on time. While one or two 30 to 60-day late payments won’t have too much of an impact, just one 90-day late payment can damage your credit for up to seven years. To ensure you always make on-time payments, use an account management and bill reminder service, which will remind you when your bills are due. Not only will this help keep your credit score from dropping but it will also help you save money on late fees.
2. Keep your credit utilization ratio low.
You may have heard before that closing a credit card can negatively affect your credit score, but there’s a reason for it: It can cause your credit utilization ratio to skyrocket. You should keep your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your credit limit that you actually use, at around 10 percent, according to FICO.
Here’s what closing a line of credit could do to your utilization ratio: Let’s say you have two credit cards: One has a $5,000 limit and the other has a $10,000 limit. Each month, you use your credit card for about $1,500 worth of expenses, which brings your utilization ratio to a safe 10 percent. However, you decide that because you never really use the card with the $10,000 limit, you’re going to cancel it, but you don’t change how much you’re spending each month. Now, your credit utilization ratio has jumped to a whopping 30 percent, which can cause your score to drop.
Note: There is no truly magic utilization number. The closer to 0% utilization the more positive an impact on your credit score.
3. Pay off your credit card balance in full each month.
Your credit card should be used as a way to build credit, not to spend money you don’t have. It’s important to pay off your balance in full each month so you don’t spend more in interest over the long term. But, if you’ve amassed a large amount of credit card debt and you’re unable to pay off the balance in full, make sure to at least pay the minimum balance due on time each month.
4. Remove collection accounts.
Pay off any collection amounts due and request a pay for delete letter. If collection accounts appear in your credit report and don’t belong to you, dispute the inaccurate information.
5. Satisfy any judgments made against you.
If there are any public records of judgments determine if they do belong to you and satisfy those requirements in order to have them removed.
6. Open additional accounts.
It seems quite contradictory but opening up additional credit cards or loans may give you a credit score boost. If you can’t get approved open a secured credit card and secured loan for a small amount.
7. Remove any derogatory information.
If you’ve been reported late and you weren’t, dispute that information with the credit bureau. Have proper documentation to prove it.
8. Monitor your credit report.
Consistently check your credit report for any errors that could be affecting your credit. Checking regularly will also help you catch any fraud or potential identity theft.
Fix Credit Report Errors
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to access your credit report and ensure the accuracy of the information provided. Whenever, you dispute a record in your credit report, the credit bureaus are required by law to start an investigation of your claim and delete information that is inaccurate or unverifiable.
• Step 1: Get a copy of your credit report. Request your free copy of your reports from www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Request and review one credit report at a time.
• Step 2: Verify the information in your credit report is correct. Check your name, addresses, public records and inquiries. Then check each trade line to make sure the information creditors are reporting are accurate such as credit establish date, balance, limits and payment history.
• Step 3: Initiate the dispute online. Once you have access to your credit report online begin the dispute process and provide necessary information or documentation regarding your dispute.
• Step 4: Submit the disputes. The credit bureaus have 30 days from receipt of the dispute to provide an answer regarding your inquiry.
The credit bureaus will provide an answer for each of your dispute whether favorable or not. If you disagree with any of the answers you can request a reevaluation by submitting more information that support your claim.
2 Steps to Dispute Errors on Credit Reports
1. Get your free credit report. Request a copy of your credit report through www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
a. If you find inaccurate information, you have the right to request changes. The credit bureau will contact the lender/creditor and attempt to verify accuracy of the records.
Warning: Be weary of credit experts who promise to remove inaccurate and accurate information from you credit report for a fee. There are specific federal laws credit repair organizations must follow.
2. Dispute the information online or through courier mail. Start the dispute process online. Keep a log of the disputes you’re making, the date and time and any information you are supplying to support your claim.
a. Document each time you communicate (written or verbal) with a lender or collections agent. Note the name of the agent, date, time and specifics of the conversations you’re having. Maintain copies of these records.
b. Often times your dispute may not result in your favor so it’s important to have the documents. You’ll have the opportunity to appeal.
Where do you file the dispute online?
When you pull your credit report through www.AnnualCreditReport.com there are sections of the website dedicated to disputes.
For information about contacting Experian to start an investigation click here.
For information about contacting Equifax to start an investigation click here.
For information about contacting TransUnion to start an investigation click here.
Who can benefit from secured credit cards?
Strengthening your credit score
If you are looking at increasing your credit score, secured credit cards can help you. Adding an additional account in your credit report or increasing your available credit can helpstrengthen your score. It is believed that secured credit cards are weighted heavier than their unsecured counterpart by the credit score algorithms.
Re-establishing your credit
Secured credit cards are a great option for those with bad credit or have filed bankruptcy. Secured credit cards allow you to re-establish your credit history without a credit report review. After having a secured credit car for 6-12 months with on-time payments, many will find it easier to get approved for an unsecured credit card.
5 Steps to Remove Collection Accounts from your Credit Report
1. Pull your credit report. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com and print out your credit report. Use a highlighter to mark the collections and delinquencies. This helps you visualize where to focus your efforts. It’ll give you an idea of the company or agency you need to contact.
2. Call the collection agency. Find the number of the agency and reach out to them immediately. Find out the details of the collection to determine if this was an account that was paid and reported inaccurately or an amount due that needs to be paid.
If you find out the collection is inaccurate, back your claim with documents that showed the accounts were satisfied. If this is money you indeed owe, request a settlement with a “pay for delete.” The “pay for delete” is considered a delete clause to pay off the amount due and upon payment the collection record is deleted.
Note: Creditors and collection agencies are not required to report information to credit bureaus. But, if they do report information they are required to report accurate information.
3. Get the agreement in writing. Ask for an verbal, written or emailed agreement. Additionally, make sure you take notes of the person you’ve spoken to, the dates, times and brief synopsis of the conversation. Comply with the agreement.
4. Review the same credit report. Dispute the reported collection account with the credit bureau. They will respond within 30 days of their findings. Typically, the collection account will be removed if you’ve satisfied the agreement with the collection agency.
If the collection account remains and is now reporting a $0 balance, dispute again with the credit bureau and at the same time contact the collection agency. Refer back to your notes and the “delete clause.” Take down notes of the agent’s name, the date, time and detail the conversation.
5. Dispute the information with the credit bureau. If you are unsuccessful in having your paid off or inaccurate collection account removed, continue to dispute with the credit bureaus. Do so by emailing and sending a certified letter via USPS courier.
You can call back the collection agency referencing the previous conversations you’ve had with their agents. They may tell you that they do not delete collection accounts.
Don’t get frustrated. Go directly to the credit bureau and share the terms of your agreement and send supporting documents. Persistence can pay off. Remember credit bureaus are not your enemy. They follow the laws that govern their operation.
+ 5 Credit Score Myths Busted
+ 5 steps to remove collection accounts from your credit report
+ How long credit inquiries stay in your credit report?
+ 11 Ways To Raise Your Credit Score, Fast. Forbes
+ Improve Your Credit Score. Experian
+ 7 Tips to Improve Your Credit Score After Bankruptcy. Yahoo Finance
+ Ways To Work on Improving Your Credit Score After a Foreclosure. Quizzle
+ 3 Tips for Repairing Your Credit After a Car Repossession. Credit Sesame