One of the common themes you will read about or hear me say, whether you have found us through our website, or a blog that has been published, our radio show or the podcast is the importance of credit. Credit is our adult report cards. I say this over and over, and I have for many years.
Having good credit is one of the most important aspects of your financial life. It can determine whether or not you get approved for a loan, the interest rate you’ll pay on that loan, and even the amount of money you’ll be able to borrow. In short, having good credit is crucial if you want to achieve financial stability and success. Additionally, many hiring decisions are made based upon a credit check, where we live, the cars we drive–the money we pay to finance those vehicles, which is referred to as ‘the cost of money and insurance. Credit is a factor in all of these things.
In this blog, I will share with you what you need to know to maintain a healthy credit score. From understanding what a credit score is to learning how to improve your credit score, we’ve got you covered here.
Your credit score
Your credit score is a three-digit number that represents your creditworthiness. It’s a measure of how likely you are to pay back the money you borrow. Lenders use your credit score to determine whether or not to approve your loan application and what interest rate to charge you.
If you have a good credit score, you’ll have access to more loan options at lower interest rates. This can save you thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. On the other hand, if you have a bad credit score, you may not be able to get approved for a loan at all, or you may only be able to get approved at a high-interest rate.
The actual credit score numbers, low to high
A credit score is a three-digit number that ranges from 300 to 850. The higher the number, the better your credit score. Your credit score is calculated based on five factors, including your payment history, the amount of debt you owe, the length of your credit history, and the types of credit you have.
How to Check Your Credit Score
You can check your credit score for free once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get a free credit score from many credit card companies and credit monitoring services.You will often find your credit score updated with your monthly credit card statement when it arrives, or if you view a PDF of your statement online.
I believe that It’s important to check your credit score regularly to make sure there are no errors or fraudulent accounts listed. If you do find errors, you can dispute them with the credit bureau to have them removed from your credit report. When I started the radio show and podcast about 12 years ago I began to look closely at statistics that were available regarding credit. The single most important stat to me was how often a consumer was reviewing their credit.
The answer I found in 2011 was roughly 50% of the population was checking their credit once a year. Fast forward to 2023 and we have seen a drop in that number of over 50%. Roughly 21% of consumers check their credit once a year.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
I could write a blog on this topic alone, but for the purposes of keeping this blog as brief as possible, I will focus on the 5 factors that make up your FICO score and provide a thought on each to help you make improvements.
- Pay your bills on time. Payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, so it’s essential to make all your payments on time. Make sure you set up automatic payments to be certain that your bills are paid on time. One late payment can cause a 75-110 point drop in score. Your pay history is 35% of your overall score.
- Reduce your debt. The amount of debt you owe is the second most important factor in your credit score. Try to pay off your debts as quickly as possible to improve your credit utilization ratio. Keep your credit balances at 10% or less if possible. Credit utilization is 30% of your score.
- Keep old credit accounts open. The length of your credit history is also a factor in your credit score, so it’s a good idea to keep old credit accounts open even if you’re not using them. The length of credit history is 15% of your credit score.
- Don’t apply for too much credit at once. When you apply for credit, it can temporarily lower your credit score. Try to limit your credit applications to only those you need. New credit is responsible for 10% of your credit score.
- The type of credit also plays a role in your credit score. Diversifying your credit score is important. Installment loans like a car and a mortgage along with at least one revolving account like a credit card will assist you in the makeup of your score. A good mix of credit is worth 10% of your score.
Credit is not only very complex on many levels–but it is also deeply personal. Credit is a tool that is used to measure our ability to do what we say we are going to do with those that have extended us credit.
Improving your credit score takes time and effort, but it is well worth it in the long run.
If you have questions, I would be happy to meet with you or speak with you and provide you with a free detailed analysis of your credit. You can click the link on our page to learn more or to book an appointment with me.
About Harry Jacobs:
Harry Jacobs is the Founder of Credit Restoration of Nevada. He is widely regarded as one of the experts in the field of credit, credit repair and credit restoration. His knowledge of Fair Debt Collection Practices and the Fair Credit Reporting Act make him a tremendous resource for consumers and consumer law firms.