With debt piling up and bills harder to pay, credit scores seems to be going down faster than usual lately. Banks are lowering credit lines, refusing credit more and increasing the FICO score requirement even more for mortgage approvals. Keeping pristine credit is not only important for borrowing, but for employment and insurance also. It is all about your score. So, what can you do to make small changes for big improvements?
Here are five things you need to know:
1. Pay off any medical judgments: Pay them off in full or negotiate paying less than the full amount owed. Either way is fine, but do not make a payment plan. Making a plan will keep the judgment “open” on your credit report and it will not improve it. Worse yet, if this is an old judgment, creating a payment plan, will reopen the file and it will become new “bad” credit. The newer the “bad” credit, the greater the negative effect on your score.
2. Pay off or make a payment plan for back taxes: If you pay off income tax judgments, it will obviously remove them and show paid satisfied. However, if you can’t pay it in full, make a plan with the taxman. This plan will show on your credit report. If you can prove a 12 month history of making payments, the lender will look kindly on you. Try to pay it off though because you are racking up interest and penalties by the boatload.
3. Make sure that you never owe more than 50% of your high credit allowed: Keeping what you owe below 50% gives the credit score a warm and fuzzy feeling. It reduces your risk of default and will keep your interest rate a little lower. If you reduce all of your balances to the marker, your score will go up right away.
4. Don’t take out any of those store credit cards they entice you with at the register: Savings 20 bucks on a hundred dollar purchase will not save you much more than twenty bucks. What it will do though, is get you an inquiry and a new tradeline without any payment history. This will get you a lower credit score ASAP.
5. Pay your bill on time. Duh. On time means by the 30 day period not the 15 day grace period for credit score purposes. However, do yourself a favor and avoid the late changes and work within the grace period. If the payment is due at a bad time of the month, call the creditor and see if you can change the due date.
All of the above will improve your score although nothing is guaranteed in the metro numeric, calculating barometric world of credit scores. But, hey, it’s worth a shot. Better yet, keep good payment habits and remember if you really need to save twenty bucks on that jacket at the Gap, then you probably should not have bought it in the first place.