8 Steps to Achieving an "Excellent" Credit Score

Nick
Carroll
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hen you were a child, did you ever beg for your father to build you that magical treehouse?  After you've convinced his heart to go out to the dark and dusty garage to find his rusty nails, old wooden hammer, and several boards from a honey-due project, he eagerly drags these resources to the back yard. 

What follows are hours of agonizing hot work with nothing but frustration to show off.  Yet, in the end, a father's love persisted, and he managed to preserve in that building what resembles a treehouse.

Building a credit score up to 750, which marks the beginning of an excellent credit score, is very similar to building a treehouse.  It takes hard work, perseverance, and patience.  How do you get a 750 credit score?

While I don't need you to rush into your dusty garage grabbing these same set of tools, I do need you to learn the tips below and put these into practice, because these are the foundation, the frame, and the roof to building an excellent 750 credit score or higher.  

Having an excellent credit score separates those who will have to less money than others due to a lower interest rate, as well as improving your chances for a loan.  You might be asking or searching, "How do I increase my credit score" or "How can I boost my boost credit score?"

Let's start exploring how to get a 750 credit score "Excellent" so you can build your financial treehouse!

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1.  Make On-Time Payments

You've learned at an early age always to pay back your debts.  Most importantly, you still pay back your debts on time.  That is why ensuring you make timely payments is the first step.  

Your payment history is the foundation because the three primary credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion) state your payment history makes up roughly 35% of your FICO score.  

One small gap in your treehouse flooring may cause your foot to slip through the cracks.  This is the cause of a missed payment, not to mention that it's likely you'll be charged an additional fee known as Late Fee.

In a world of technological innovation, automated payments are at your fingertips.  If you have a history of missing on-time payments, set a calendar reminder, or pay the amount immediately after your salary is deposited. 

It's that important! According to TheBalance.com, "Credit card issuers are allowed to increase your interest rate if you're more than 60 days late on your credit payment. The penalty interest rate on many credit cards is a staggering 30%."

 

Also, according to a Kiplinger article, "If you've been using the card for several months and paying your bills on time, the issuer may grant your request."

 

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2.  Watch Your Utilization Ratio

A Utilization Ratio is the available amount of credit expressed as a percentage. For example, if you have a $10,000 credit limit and you have a current balance of $1,000, then your credit utilization is 10%.

 

If you have more than one credit card, then it is the total credit balances charged divided by the limit. As an example, if you have three credit cards with $5,000 limits each and each card has $500 on it, then you're utilization ratio is 10%. (Note: $1,500 divided by $15,000)

 

Your utilization ratio impacts your credit score, and it makes up roughly 30% of your score. Your goal is to keep a low utilization ratio every month. To do this, follow these tips:

A. Track how much you charge each month and do not exceed 30% of the total credit limit.  

B. If you find yourself exceeding 30% regularly, request an increase on your credit limit. This does not mean you are allowed to spend more, so discipline is critical on this one. It is important to note that "Requesting a credit line increase might initiate a hard inquiry on your credit, but your score should bounce back quickly," according to an article by NerdWallet.com.

C.  Explore when each of your credit card issuers reports your monthly balance.  The reported balances may differ from each other with one card reporting the balance in the first week of the month while another card reports a balance in the third week.

 

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3.  Avoid Similar Multiple Credit Accounts

Back to our opening analogy, if you built a treehouse that instead of windows being installed, you got a great bargain on doors instead.  Therefore, you used doors on each side instead of windows and saved a ton of money.  

While I commend you for being thrifty, doors and windows have different functions and purposes.

The same can be said about credit accounts.  I am consistently informed about my viewers having trouble breaking the barrier of a 680 credit score.  When I review their credit reports, it fails to reflect a variety of accounts.  

That is why upon getting a mortgage loan after having credit for ten years, you will usually see a big jump in your credit score.  The mortgage added a missing account reflecting variety.  This is called a Credit Mix, and it makes up 10% of your credit score.  While small, having a mix of loans with revolving debt helps to increase this percentage.  

Your credit mix tells a lender or creditor that you are a responsible human being that can handle all varieties of debt efficiently.   It also reflects your financial responsibility. 

 

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4.  Limit New Credit Inquiries

Did you know when you enquire about a new loan, this has a temporary negative effect on your credit score? If you are shopping around for lower rates, several inquiries may be pulled, causing a decline in your credit score that could last up to six months. "Several hard inquiries in a short period of time can add up to serious credit score damage." according to Credit.com.

 

Now that you are aware of this check with the lender before they pull an inquiry to determine if it is a hard or soft inquiry. A soft inquiry will not impact your credit score. If you need a hard inquiry pulled, apply for new credit accounts that you need.

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5.  Choose a Card that Matches Your Spending Habits

You've seen the commercials. From points to rewards, financial institutions have an aggressive war going on to obtain the most consumers. They entice you by "rewarding" you. 

 

Are all reward cards bad? Not necessarily. If you are the type of consumer who is responsible and pays off their debt every month while maintaining a low utilization rate, then consider a rewards card. Because if you use your credit card often for fuel purchases or dining to maximize your points, then find a card that matches your spending habits. 

Some things to consider before getting a Rewards Credit Card is how much is the annual fee and if it can be waived. If the points and rewards exceed the yearly fee and cannot be waived, then it may be worthwhile to obtain it.

If you are new to the Points and Rewards program, then I highly recommend you check out ThePointsGuy blog on "Best Advice for Someone Just Starting Out With Points and Miles" because the author highlights several critical points from doing your homework first before rushing to get a card as well as consider the possibilities of being able to transfer your points.

 

You would hate it if you accumulated thousands of points only to find out later these points cannot move to another card after the initial cards raise its interest rate on you.

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6.  Address Errors on Credit Report

The three credit bureaus have created a joint company, Central Source LLC, which operates the website, AnnualCreditReport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action. This website is the only Federally authorized source for free credit reports. They are deemed by Federal law, Fair Credit Reporting Act, to provide you one credit report for free once a year, not your credit score.  

However, this is your opportunity to address mistakes and errors in your report, which will impact your credit score. Sometimes charges are put on your credit report from utility firms or medical bills that were paid, yet, never removed. You can easily see a 5 to 15 point increase by eliminating these mistakes.  

 

To address the errors, you have a few options:

  • Call: 1-877-322-8228

  • Write: PO Box 206392, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

 

After addressing the discrepancies with them, call your creditor, lender, or provider and notify them of the error. All are legally required to investigate and correct inaccuracies on your credit report.

 

If you prefer doing this in writing, the Federal Trade Commission has a sample Dispute Letter drafted for you. Just change the information to what applies to you and then mail it off. 

7.  Monitor Your Credit Report

Don't be confused about the differences between Credit Reports and Credit Scores.  While the two are linked, a credit report is a compiled history from the three credit reporting agencies, and a credit score is an assigned value ranging from 300 to 850 deeming how you manage credit.

It is essential to review your credit report because its not just creditors who can see your score but is a key way to starting improving your credit score. 

 

Lenders, insurance companies, government agencies, and potential employers may have the ability to see your credit report because Federal law has granted them the right to check before conducting business with you.

 
When monitoring your credit report, it is best to watch all three credit bureaus as each has its methodology and reporting.   One report may contain an error while the other two do not.  Different lenders pull from various agencies, and one minor error not found can result in being disapproved for a future loan and possibly a lower score than on the others.

8.  Safeguard Your 750 Score

You've worked hard to raise and increase your credit score.  Now you must protect it at all costs so it can continue climbing.
Set up automatic payments if you haven't already. 

 

One late payment has the potential to knock down your credit score by as much as 100 points-Ouch!  Life happens, and you get distracted with work and family.  One minor slip can set you back.

Watch your utilization ratio.  As we mentioned earlier, this accounts for 30% of your score, and you can keep your ratio low by paying off your cards once to twice per month.

Finally, make it a habit of checking your credit report a few times per year.  You can obtain one from AnnualCreditReport.com/requestReport/landingPage.action, and most financial institutions allow credit monitoring if you bank with them.  A simple review every several months helps you to safely monitor for mistakes while being able to address any errors sooner than later.

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