15 Tips to Rebuild Credit and Improve Scores
Credit can be a sore subject with many Americans. Rebuilding and increasing credit scores does not have to be a difficult task. Here are some quick tips that you can do yourself to start rebuilding your credit.
Millions of consumers have less than perfect credit and it can be frustrating. Credit has permeated our society and having low credit scores costs you money. Credit scores are the No. 1 determinant in a bank's decision to approve or decline credit. You may be approved for credit even though your scores are low but you will undoubtedly pay higher interest rates. The following are tips to begin rebuilding your credit:
(1) Authorized Buyer or Piggyback Credit. Becoming an authorized buyer also known as piggyback credit can be an instant way to boost your credit score. If you know someone who has a good credit history and score and is willing to add you to their account, this can immediately raise your credit score. There are companies that provide authorized buyer accounts for a fee. The credit card company will report to your credit files as well as the card holders'. The downfall of becoming an authorized buyer is that if the person ever becomes delinquent, it will also reflect on your credit report. However, if this happens, you can always dispute the account and the credit bureaus will have to remove it because an authorized buyer is not financially responsible for the account.
(2) Retain Old Credit. Maintaining older credit gives you a longer credit history. This is important because credit history constitutes 15% of your overall credit score.
(3) Apply for Easy Credit. There are many companies that do not require strict credit guidelines. These companies extend credit to consumers with little to no credit history and less than perfect credit. You may have to pay higher interests rates but if you pay on time and keep your balances to less than 30% of your available credit limit, you will build positive credit. Seek credit at your local appliance, furniture, jewelry and tire stores. In addition Radioshack, Fingerhut and Chevron Gas extend easy credit.
(4) Balance Transfer. Do not transfer all your balances to one low interest rate card. You may get many offers for the best credit cards with low and even zero percent interest rates, but if you transfer all of your balances to the one card then you run the risk of increasing your balance to limit ratio. A high balance to limit ratio lowers your credit scores. You should always maintain a balance less than thirty percent of your credit limit in order to have good scores. (Amount Owed is 30% of credit score)
(5) Decrease Your Credit Card Balance. Pay down your credit card and decrease your balance to thirty percent (30%) or less than your credit limit. Your credit score will increase. The great thing about this technique is that it works whether it is a $5000 limit credit card or a $500 limit credit card, your credit scores will instantly improve.
(6) Get a Credit Line Increase. In the alternative, if you do not have the cash on hand to pay down your credit card account, request a credit line increase but don't spend it! Many credit card issuers can increase your limit without running a credit report. Make sure you inquire before you request the credit line increase if you do not want to create inquiries.
(7) Get a Bank Loan Secured by a Savings Account. If you have at least $500 cash on hand obtain a savings account secured bank loan. Most banks and credit unions do not run credit reports when you apply for a secured loan. However, they do report these loans to the major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and Transunion. Bank loans rank high in credit scoring. But don't stop at just one secured loan. Once you obtain the first secured loan, take those funds, go to another bank and repeat the process. Now you have two bank loans that will report to the credit bureaus. Make sure these loans are small enough that you can handle making at least two payments per secured loan before the actual due dates. When the banks report to the credit bureaus they will show these payments and you will have established an excellent payment history within (30) days of obtaining the loans.
(8) Get a Secured Credit Card. Secured credit is a good option for those who cannot qualify for regular credit. Not only will you have the benefits of a regular credit card but you will also get an opportunity down the line to convert that secured credit card into a regular one. The same rules apply with a secured card in that you must pay your credit card bill on time and you should keep your balances low. When seeking secured credit make sure the bank reports to all three major credit card agencies, Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
(9) Limit Hard inquiries. Hard inquiries can take up to five (5) points off your credit score. Applying for new credit will lower your credit score. Keep inquiries at a minimum. Additionally, any company that pulls your credit report without your authorization is in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act which allows only authorized inquiries to appear on your credit report. According to FCRA rules you are entitled to $1,000 for each unauthorized hard inquiry. (New Credit Applications is 10% of your credit score)
(10) Know the Information reported by Credit Card Companies. Make sure your credit card companies report your limit and balance. Some may only report your balance and not your credit limit. Lenders who engage in this practice may actually be causing your credit score to be lower. The scoring system will plug in your highest balance as your credit limit and if you are currently at a high balance this can be detrimental to your scores. Capital One was notorious for this practice however; in August 2007, they changed their policy and will be reporting credit limits. This means many consumers who hold a Capital One credit card may see a boost in their credit scores.
(11) Pay Obligations by the Due Date. Pay your obligations by the due date. A late or missed payment can drop a good credit score by 100 points or more. It may not make sense but if you already have negative entries on your credit report adding more will not hurt you as much as if you don’t have any negative entries. Regardless, paying on time can raise your credit score. (Payment History is 35% of your credit score)
(12) Zero Balances may Hurt Your Credit Score. Strange but true. If you have many credit card accounts with zero balances your credit score may be lower. Credit scores can be raised by maintaining a small balance (at least $10) on your credit cards.
(13) Keep Balances to Thirty Percent (30%) of Credit Limit. Do not use over thirty percent (30%) of your available credit. Keep those balances low and your credit scores will rise. Definitely do not go over your credit limit. This hurts your credit score tremendously.
(14) Request a Deletion. If you pay a collection or settle a debt make sure you obtain a deletion and not a “paid collection” entry. This also applies to paying a debt directly to the creditor. Your creditors have the power to delete the entries they put on your credit report. A paid collection and an unpaid collection hold the same negative weight because it is still a collection entry. Your credit score will not improve once you pay a collection. Always request a deletion; in fact, some collection agencies have a “deletion fee”. Basically you pay an extra fee to have the item deleted. When you negotiate a deletion always get it in writing. This is your proof and once you have a deletion letter you do not have to wait for the creditor to submit a request for the item to be removed from your credit report. You can submit it directly to the credit bureaus and they will remove the item.
(15) Re-Aging to Improve Your Credit Scores. Re-Aging is a technique used by creditors to get rid of your past-due account. You are no longer delinquent and your account status changes to “current” which increases your credit score. Request Re-Aging from your creditors. Re-Aging is a quick and free method to raise your credit scores, it gives you a fresh start. Federal guidelines dictate how creditors can re-age accounts but essentially here is how it works:
• The borrower has to demonstrate renewed commitment and ability to pay the account on time.
• The account should be at least nine (9) months old.
• The borrower should have made at least three consecutive monthly minimum payments.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lisa Phillips is a marketing executive specializing in business expansion and development. Because many small business owners lack the personal and business credit necessary to grow and expand, she has developed a free website to aid consumers as well as entrepreneurs in rebuilding and taking control of their credit. www.rebuildcreditscores.com