Your credit score affects many aspects of your financial future. Did you know that a good credit score can lower your interest payments on a credit card?
Let’s look at ways to build your credit score, and fast.
Why credit scores are important
Your credit score is a number that signals your ability to repay your debts on time. This means lenders can see, right there out in the open, if you can handle your money right.
You can’t hide how you’ve mismanaged your debts in the past, and you can see how banks, lenders and card issuers are judging you for loans and credit cards. It’s quite transparent.
And there’s no sidestepping it. If you’ve never had a credit card or a loan, that’s not a good thing - you need debt like that to establish your credit score. With a good, healthy credit score, you can qualify for a mortgage and all kinds of other loans.
The higher your credit score, the better your position is to finance significant investments like a car or mortgage on a house.
Limit your credit card spending
Credit cards are easy to use. Almost too easy. If you’re just starting to use them or you stop paying attention, you might find you’re using them more than you afford.
Credit cards can be great for large purchases and can help us get things and experience we can’t otherwise afford. But here’s a good rule of thumb: try not to spend more than you can pay back on your credit cards that same month. Do not exceed what you can afford. Rely on your savings instead of your credit cards if you need to make a big purchase or are faced with an emergency.
Credit reporting agencies reward responsible use of credit cards. They can see when you miss a payment or rack up too much debt. They can also see when you’re using cards responsibly, in balance with your income and what you can afford.
Pay your cards on time
With any credit card or loan, you want to prove that you can handle it responsibly, spending with it and repaying that balance right away. This behavior is what lenders want to see. Lenders do not want to see you drowning in debt or making payments late.
On-time payments are a big factor in determining your credit score. It’s the smartest way to boost your credit – just by making your card payments on time every month. Credit bureaus love that, and they’ll boost your score for it.
If you can show lenders that you can handle your credit cards correctly, you’ll qualify for higher credit limits in the future too.
Here’s a pro tip: make multiple payments within each billing cycle. Credit bureaus love that, too, and will reward you with a credit score bump.
Watch your credit utilization
One of the ways to increase your credit score is to limit how much of your credit you use. Credit reporting agencies watch and track your card usage, and that track record makes up 30% of your credit score!
Most experts recommend using no more than 30% of your available credit. That applies across all your cards and lines of credit.
Maintaining a lower credit utilization ensures a good credit utilization score.
Keep cards open
Do not close your credit card accounts. Closing your credit card will negatively affect your credit score by reducing your total available credit, which is a long-term problem. In addition, your credit utilization will only increase by shutting down a credit card account. That will probably result in a decrease in score.
It is best to destroy the card itself or freeze your credit card account if you are concerned about potential fraud or if you just don’t trust yourself enough to use it responsibly.
Try a mix of credit and loans
Credit bureaus look at all kinds of debt, and they love it when you use more than just your cards responsibly.
Taking out a car loan can be a smart move that boosts your score. They often have flexible qualifying terms, with interest rates lower than most credit cards. When you use a car loan to buy a vehicle, and make your loan payments on time every month, you’ll likely see bumps in your score as you go.
On-time payments of student loans can have the same positive effect. Mortgages too.
How you use different kinds of credit and loans accounts for 10% of your credit score.
Building your credit score requires responsible use of your credit. Make payments on time, watch your utilization, keep old cards open and try using a mix of different kinds of loans and credit.
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