Understand how your credit score is determined

by Tom Tousignant

in Blog, Financial Safety, Mortgages, Refinancing

1.       Do you pay your bills on time? The answer to this question is very important. If you have paid bills late, have had an account referred to a collection agency, or have ever declared bankruptcy, this history will show up in your credit report.

2.       What is your outstanding debt? If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit, it is likely to have a negative effect on your score.

  • Keeping your credit cards balances at 20-30% of their limit is the fastest way to increase your credit score.

3.       How long is your credit history? A short credit history may have a negative effect on your score, but a short history can be offset by other factors, such as timely payments and low balances.

  • Parents, help your children establish good credit habits – not using credit at all will hurt them as they get older and want to buy a house, so help them get credit when they turn 18, and then make sure they treat it with respect.

4.       Have you applied for new credit recently? If you have applied for too many new accounts recently that may negatively affect your score.

  • The 10% you saved at a department store last month by opening a new account can lower your score.  If your score lowers just prior to buying a house or getting an auto loan, that 10% store savings is nothing compared to the cost of a lower credit score.

5.       How many and what types of credit accounts do you have? Many credit-scoring models consider the number and type of credit accounts you have. A mix of installment loans and credit cards may improve your score.

  • When I see credit scores above 800, the owner of that score will never have more than two credit cards, one mortgage, and maybe a car loan.  To get an 800 credit score, you need to have used credit in the past, but now only use 1 credit card, pay if off every month, and close all the accounts you don’t use.
  • Closing accounts is normally bas for your credit.  If you have a score below 720, this is usually true.  When you get a score above 750, closing old accounts will further increase your score.

Keeping your credit score above 740 is necessary in today’s economy. People with lower credit scores will pay more for home loans, car loans, cell phones, and it can even effect employment hiring, auto insurance and home owner’s insurance rates.

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