Article by Wane Workman – Branch Manager at Academy Mortgage – www.academymortgage.com/waneworkman
While this article provides some basic information about improving your credit score, Academy Mortgage and its employees do not provide credit repair or credit counseling services. You should seek independent information and advice before taking any course of action. Additional resources are listed at the bottom of this article.
WHERE CAN I GET MY CREDIT REPORT?
Three credit bureaus produce reports: Experian, Equifax and Transunion. You can receive one free credit report annually at www.annualcreditreport.com and a free credit score, report, monitoring and other information at www.creditkarma.com. Credit monitoring services are available for a fee at www.myfico.com.
HOW IS A CREDIT SCORE CALCULATED?
Credit scores are typically calculated using the following criteria:
- 35% – payment history: Your consistency in making on-time payments.
- 30% – total amount owed: Includes the ratio of what you owe to your available credit amount.
- 15% – length of credit history: How long you have been using credit.
- 10% – new credit accounts and inquiries: Accounts you have recently opened and creditor inquiries.
- 10% – types of credit in use: Includes credit cards, installment loans, mortgages and others.
HOW CAN I IMPROVE MY CREDIT SCORE
There are a few things you can do to improve your credit score including paying bills on time consistently. This is probably the most important factor as late payments can have a major negative impact on a score. Another important factor is to keep balances low on credit cards and revolving lines of credit. A good rule of thumb is to keep these balances below 50% of the available amount. Another thing to keep in mind is to only apply for and open new accounts as they are needed. Do not open new credit accounts just to have them. A final item to keep in mind is to pay off debt rather than moving it around and do not close unused cards as that will increase your debt to available debt ratio which can have an adverse effect on your score.
Generally speaking, as Experian notes, the length of time to repair your credit depends on the seriousness of the reasons for a lower score. Usually, you can dispute errors and old negatives with the credit bureaus by contacting them directly.