Having a good credit score is a critical measure of your financial health. Creditors, landlords, and potential employers can use your rating to determine the risk level they will undertake if they decide to give you a loan, an apartment, or a job. Moreover, a high credit rating can save you money. With the right rating, you can qualify for a bigger mortgage, avoid paying security deposits on utility and cellphone plans, and receive more competitive interest rates when you take out a loan.
Because it can impact so many facets of your life, it’s critical to do everything you can to build and maintain a good credit rating. These simple strategies can put you on the road to a better credit score and a more promising financial future.
Understand The Basics
To take control of your financial future, you first need to understand what a credit score is and how it is calculated. Your score ranges from 300 to 850, and the number is meant to reflect how creditworthy you are. The higher the number is, the lower the risk:
- 300 to 580 is a poor rating
- 580 to 669 is a fair rating
- 670 to 739 is a good rating
- 740 to 799 is a very good rating
- 800 to 850 is an excellent rating
The measures most often taken into account to calculate your score are payment history, credit history, available credit limit, overall level of debt, and debt to credit ratio. By improving any of these measures, you can improve your score.
Check Your Score Regularly
To keep track of where you stand and ensure that you are moving in the right direction, run a free credit check every few months. You are allowed to check your credit score as often as you’d like, and your score is not negatively impacted when you do. In fact, tracking your score over time can give you the necessary insight to understand the trends and make improvements.
Another reason to run regular credit checks is to identify errors in your report. A Federal Trade Commission study recently revealed that 25% of consumers discovered errors on their credit reports that were serious enough to impact their credit scores. Thankfully, early detection enables you to fix the problem quickly.
Apply For A Credit Card Early
Because credit history is one measure used to determine your credit score, it’s wise to apply for your first credit card while you are a student. Most companies are happy to give you a card because they know your parents are likely still supporting you. Be aware, however, that having the account can hurt you if you don’t handle it responsibly. To establish a good track record, avoid late payments and always pay off your balance before any interest is assessed.
If you are older, it’s not too late to work on your credit history. Hang on to your oldest credit card, even if you rarely use it. By keeping the account open, the history associated with that card can improve your score.
Improve Your Debt to Credit Ratio
To achieve a healthy credit score, you need to have low debt and high credit. To lower your debt, pay off your credit card balances quickly. Look for ways to cut back on spending and redirect those funds to pay off outstanding balances.
Just as decreasing your debt improves your debt to credit ratio, increasing your available credit does as well. Therefore, even if you don’t use your credit card or need a high limit, you should ask for an increase to boost your ratio.
A healthy credit score can save you money and open doors. Check your credit regularly, develop a good history, and take steps to improve your debt to credit ratio, and you will be on your way to a brighter financial future.