credit score

Boost Your Credit Score in 2011: Part Two

by The Queen on February 17, 2011

in Credit

Is your credit score as high as you’d like? If it is a work in progress, we are here to help. We are continuing our Boost Your Credit Series. In this monthly series, we provide you easy tips for improving your credit. To kick things off, last month you just had to get your credit report and score. Now that you have your report in hand, it’s time to get to work. This month we will tackle your credit utilization ratio.

What is a credit utilization ratio?

Your credit utilization ratio is simply the amount of money you owe compared to the amount of total credit you have. For example if you owe $5,000 and your total credit limits are $10,000 then your credit utilization ratio is equal to 50%. The closer you are to your limits, the higher your ratio will be.

How much of an impact does my ratio have on my overall score?

Your credit utilization score which represents the amounts you owe affects 30% of your credit score. This is the second most important factor in your overall score. It is also the easiest and fastest way you can improve your score. 

 

What is a good ratio?

Unlike your overall credit score where higher is better, with your credit utilization ratio lower is better. Credit experts generally agree that ratios should ideally be under 35 percent. And studies have shown that those with the best credit have ratios under 20%.

How can I improve my ratio?

There are two ways to improve your credit utilization ratio, either pay off debt or increase your limits. Each method has its own pros and cons.

How do I pay off debt to improve my ratio?

You can’t simply just pay more on all your accounts and expect to have a dramatic impact on your ratio. You have to be strategic. You should aim to pay off the balances on the cards and accounts with the lowest limits. For example if you pay an extra $200 on an account with a $10,000 limit, that doesn’t have a big impact. However, if you pay an extra $200 on an account with an $800 limit, you have dramatically decreased your utilization ratio for that card. You will find store credit cards are generally the ones with the lower limits and general credit cards like Visa and MasterCard have the higher limits. So start paying down the store cards first.

After I pay off cards, should I close my account?

It feels great to pay off a debt and be rid of it. Many want to get ultimate closure and actually close their paid off accounts. This may be good for your soul but not for your ratio. When you close the account, you lose your 0% ratio which is the best ratio to have.

What about increasing my credit limit to improve my ratio?

Another way to improve your ratio is to increase your limit. So instead of owing $2,000 on a $3,000 limit and having a 66% ratio, you can increase your limit to $4,000 and drop your ratio to 50%. This sounds like a good tactic but most people end up charging even more and their ratio goes back to where they started and now owe more. And in this day and age, credit companies are very reluctant to give out more credit. So the best way to improve your ratio is to simply pay down debt.

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Boost Your Credit Score in 2011: Part One

by The Queen on January 27, 2011

in Credit

A new year is upon us. The celebrating and fun parties are over. It’s now time to get serious with New Year’s resolutions. We are kicking off a monthly series called Boost Your Credit Score in 2011. Every month we will feature one technique for improving your score. We break it down into easy to follow steps and give you a month to complete each.

Let’s get started!

The Importance of Good Credit

Your credit report is becoming more influential in your financial life. In the past, getting a loan was the only reason for pulling your credit report. But that’s not the case anymore. Your credit report may be pulled for car insurance and even employers are now asking to see your credit history.

What is Good Credit?

Credit scores range from 350 to 850 in the FICO system. A score of 680 is fair, 720 is good and 780 and above is great.

Get Your Credit Reports for Free

Everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of the three credit agencies. To receive your free credit report, simply go to www.annualcreditreport.com Go and check your reports today. This is the first step in the process.

Pay for your FICO Credit Score

You can get your credit reports for free, but you have to pay for your credit score. Don’t bother paying for Experian or TransUnion’s score, just pay for the credit score offered by Equifax. Equifax offers a true FICO score. This is the score we will focus on throughout the series.

Simple Task for January

Your task for January is to simply review your credit report. Nearly 80% of credit reports have some kind of error, ranging from a misspelled name to strings of late payments. Errors with payments and loans can impact your credit score, so you want to fix those ASAP.

How to Correct Credit Report Errors

Each credit report comes with directions on how to dispute an item on the report. You can do it online or via phone. If there are any mistakes with your identity such as your name, date of birth, etc you should call the credit agency. If there are mistakes with your payment history or collection agency accounts you should first call that specific financial institution or collection agency.

Take Good Notes

Fixing errors can take time and patience. This is when you need to take good notes. Write down who you spoke with and what the resolution or next step is. Follow up to make sure it was corrected. After the financial institution makes their correction, contact the credit agency to make sure they receive the correction.

Complete this step and come back in February

Next month we will tackle your credit utilization ratio which has the biggest impact on your score.

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