1. Check Your Credit Report for Mistakes: You are entitled to a free credit report every year. Download yours and review it. If you find a mistake, work with that lender to correct it. A report from the FTC in 2012 (the most recent data available) found that 1 in 5 consumers had a mistake on their report. Correcting mistakes is the easiest way to improve your score.
2. Pay Your Lenders on Time: This is obvious, but pay your lenders on time. When you have credit, whether it is a student loan, mortgage, bank or retail store credit card, or an auto loan, the lender reports when you pay them to credit bureaus. This is called payment performance, and it is worth about 35% of your credit score. Paying these bills on time is essential to improving your credit score.
3. Don’t Close Any Credit Card Accounts: This won’t seem obvious but don’t start cutting up credit cards. Roughly another third of your credit score is made up of “credit utilization.” This is the percentage of credit you’ve used of the total amount you have available. If you have a rotating balance on one card, closing an account will increase your utilization and harm your credit score. According to Credit Karma, people with a 1-10% utilization rate have higher credit scores. The bottom line is that you need to be responsible with your credit.
4. Ask Your Credit Card Company for a Credit Limit Increase: Again, this doesn’t seem obvious, but by getting an increase, you will lower your utilization rate. Of course, this only works if you don’t increase the balance or use the credit card for a large purchase.
5. Pay Cash: It is tempting to pull out a credit card at the cash register, but by paying with cash, you will lower the amount on your credit card, decreasing your utilization rate.
6. Keep Track of the Other Factors: There are other factors making up your credit score, including average age of credit lines, the total number of accounts, and the total number of credit inquiries.
Even if your credit score isn’t perfect, we can help you get a mortgage. Contact us today so we can start discussing your options. We will explain the process and get a mortgage that is perfect for you.
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