Square one – What is a Credit Score?
The majority of people understand the basics, like how failing to make a payment will cause your score to go down, but there are a number of complexities that trip up the average consumer. If you pay your debts on time, don’t carry too much debt on any one card, don’t close older accounts unless absolutely necessary and only apply for new credit when you have to you will generally be in good shape. However, it is important to keep yourself informed so you can maintain a credit score that accurately reflects your consumer status.
Lenders use your credit report in order to judge your reliability as a loan candidate. Your credit report indicates your ability to handle debt responsibly and will help banks decide if you are a desirable loan customer. A high credit score can help you lock in low APR rates or secure special deals on loans. A bad credit report may prevent you from securing loans and can damage your ability to buy a car, open a credit card or rent a home. A history of inability to manage your credit successfully will make lenders uncomfortable about trusting you with additional funds in the future.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report once a year, an offer you should take advantage of. When you do receive your credit report, check to ensure the figures are accurate and act quickly to correct any mistakes. This may include any clerical errors, identity theft issues or incorrect information. If your credit score is low, you should begin working on a financial rehabilitation plan, either on your own or with a certified debt counselor, to begin correcting your bad debt habits.
Looking Closer – What a credit score is made of
Your credit score is determined by an algorithm developed by the Fair Issac Corporation (hence its other name of FICO score). Three corporations, called “credit bureaus”, specialize in collecting and reporting on financial histories. Those three companies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While, the exact formula used to calculate your credit score is a tightly guarded industry secret, these companies provide general guidelines about financial behavior that can affect your credit score.
Thirty-five percent of your credit score is made up by your payment history. This includes late payments, collections, and even bankruptcies and tax liens. Each type of account will stay on your credit report a specified period of time and each type of derogatory will hurt your score differently. Credit Absolute works to remove accounts that are not 100% accurate OR not 100% verifiable. Our removal rate averages 70%.
Your debt ratio is the amount of revolving credit (i.e. credit cards) you owe in relation to the amount of credit you have available. For instance, if your credit limit is $10,000 and your current balance is $2,000, your debt ratio would be 20%. While, ideally, you would have your debt ratio at 0%, we usually recommend you are at least at 30% or lower.
Length of Credit
Your length of credit is how long you have had credit. At face value, this seems like something you couldn’t really do anything to fix. However, there are ways you can hurt yourself here. If you close out your older cards, even if they have higher interest rates, it will hurt your score. The credit scoring model has no memory or credit cards you close: if you close out that fifteen year old card you will get no credit for it!
Types of Credit
Types of credit include revolving, installment and mortgage loans. By having different kinds of credit open, you show creditors that you are responsible and able to handle different kinds of responsibilities.
Inquiries are marked on your credit report when you ask for new credit (i.e. when you apply for a home loan). If you pull your own credit those inquiries are called “soft” inquiries instead of “hard” inquires and do not show up at all on the credit report. It is important to note than when searching for a home you are allowed unlimited inquiries over a 45 day period since it is assumed you are rate shopping.