Establishing & Maintaining a Good Credit Score
Credit score is a three-digit number that represents the credit worthiness of a person. Credit score determines the acceptance of your application for home, auto or education loan as well as for a new credit card and also the interest that you will be charged for the loan.
It should always be remembered that credit score is not a part of your credit report. It is used by lenders to assure that their money is going in the safe hands. Lenders can get your credit score from national credit reporting agencies like Equifax. Experian and Dun & Bradstreet.
There are several credit scoring systems with different numeric scales but FICO score is the most popular and extensively used credit score. FICO Score is developed by Fair Isaac Corporation and range from 300 to 850. Credit score above 750 is considered as excellent and below 600 as high risk to lenders. Lower FICO score can give the lender a reason to impose high interest rates or to reject your application.
In today's economic scenario it has become increasingly important to understand the factors that can affect your credit score. The factors that can influence your FICO Scores are:
- Fix any inaccurate information. This is one of the most important things you can do to maximize your credit score. Up to 79% of credit reports contain errors.
- Update old accounts.
- Request that old inquiries be removed (older than 2 years).
- Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your score.
- If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.
- Be aware that paying off an accurate collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years.
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit”. High outstanding debt can affect a credit score.
- Pay off debt. The most effective way to improve your credit score in this area is by paying down your revolving credit. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score.
- Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. Maintain your accounts for a long time. The longer your credit history, the more it helps increase your credit score. Closing older accounts can actually lower your score.
- Don’t open a number of new credit cards that you don’t need, just to increase your available credit. Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don’t open accounts for the purpose of providing a better credit picture – it probably won’t raise your score and, in some instances, may even lower your score.
- If you have been managing credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don’t have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.
Do your rate shopping for a loan within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a mortgage or auto loan, where it is customary to shop for the best rate, and a search for many new credit cards.