Everyone must monitor their credit score regularly.
In the world of so-called “easy money”, consumers are bombarded with credit card offers and incentives, enticement of consumer loans, and mortgage refinance deals that can easily lure customers into the thought of saving cash. Who wouldn’t want to save money? If one doesn’t have a good credit score, they could potentially be losing out on money.
Credit scores are based on a variety of measures that were not public until recently. To accurately model the calculation of one’s credit score is still a mystery, yet, companies now offer helpful tips on the impacts of credit score and how raise it.
One of these measures is one’s Credit Accounts. Should one have a higher credit account than compared to similar credit profiles (maintained by credit agencies) then a recommendation by CreditWise1 is to use less than 30% of your available credit. This means if you have $1,000 credit limit, you should avoid using more than 30% or $300 or more to charge. Utilizing more than 30% of your utilization is an unwritten rule by credit agencies that reflects a red flag to lenders that one is financially stretched thin. According a Forbes article posted February 23, 2018, VantageScore had released data revealing consumers with the best credit scores utilized less than 10% of their credit.2
Another measure analyzed is percent of Credit Used. Lenders analyze signs of responsible usage of credit. If a consumer is living within one’s means, then the score is often times higher than one having difficulty paying bills on time, etc.
When a consumer is consistently opening credit applications, these number of accounts are reflected on one’s credit score and can be perceived as negative. Typically the time frame is two years. By limiting the number of credit accounts when applying, you limit the potential negative impact. Most credit agencies recommend waiting a few years when opening new accounts. This can sometimes go hand-in-hand with inquiries. When looking for credit offers and submitting your personal information, this is tracked as inquiries even if you are just browsing. Sometimes too many inquiries will have a negative impact and lenders will analyze a two-year time period. It is recommended to spread out these inquiries over a course of time if possible.
One of the most common obvious impacts to a credit score is on-time payments. This is a very important aspect of one’s credit score because history of late payments will cause lenders to question one’s ability to lend you money if one has trouble making payments on time. The definition of “late payment” to credit bureaus is often late by 30 days or more. I highly suggest and recommend that if one struggles with on-time payments to set up auto-pay
immediately on one’s payday. This reduces your chance of missing payments and the mental lapse that sometimes occurs during our busy schedules.
By monitoring your credit reports regularly, you not only minimize any chance of invalid credit inquiries you didn’t make but also reduce chances of personal identity theft. Another benefit is that it allows you to preview your score before making any credit card purchases or meet with a lender so you aren’t surprised if your score is relatively high or low. But the most important aspect of such a service is that it is your responsibility to analyze the report for accuracy. With companies such as myFICO3, it allows consumers to track their score from each credit bureau, detect threats of personal information, and you receive regular updates.
Three major credit bureaus generate your credit report. You can obtain a free report annually at AnnualCreditReport.com to ensure accuracy of your information. If you find discrepancies, it is recommended you dispute this information with that credit bureau, the company, but also report to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
1 Credit Wise. Score-Improvements. Retrieved from https://creditwise.capitalone.com/score-improvements
2 Clements, Nick. 5 Simple Steps To An Excellent Credit Score. Forbes. 23 February 2018. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickclements/2018/02/23/5-simple-steps-to-an-excellent-credit-score/2/#45cdff7b5c57
3 myFICO. Ongoing Reports. Retrieved from https://www1.myfico.com/products/fico-credit-monitoring
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps consumers connect with financial companies to get direct responses. Submit a complaint should you find a discrepancy at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/