Credit reports are used to help determine whether or not a lender decides to offer you a loan and how much you may pay for it. They can also even be used to determine the cost of your insurance and if you can get a new apartment or job. In other words, credit reports and the information in them are very important.
Determining Your Score
Generally, the most significant factor in determining your credit score is whether you repay your loans on time, which is why it is extremely important to pay your bills on or before their due date. The type of credit accounts you have and how long you have had your current accounts open also can impact your score.
Another important factor in determining your credit score is the amount of recent credit inquiries you have. These inquiries are requests of your credit report by lenders in response to applications for new credit. In other words, the more credit cards or loans you apply for, the more inquiries you will have, which can negatively impact your score.
Improving Your Score
The most important thing you can do to improve your credit score is pay your bills on time. No matter your credit history, you can improve your score by making future payments as agreed. This not only improve your score over time, but it will also increase access to credit in the future.
You should also try to minimize how much you owe in relation to your credit limit. Just because you’re approved for a $5,000 line of credit, doesn’t mean you should immediately go out and spend $5,000. When accounts are paid in full, don’t automatically close them. This reduces the ratio of credit used to credit available.
Once a year, you can pull a copy of your credit report free of charge from the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or Equifax.com
Experian: 1-888-397-3742 or Experian.com
TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800 or Transunion.com
Contrary to popular belief, pulling your own credit report or score does not hurt it. It is considered a ‘soft inquiry’ and is not an inquiry about a new line of credit (hard inquiry). When you have received your report, you can check to see if there are any inaccuracies in it. If there are, you may be unnecessarily being penalized. Make sure you take the proper steps to have inaccuracies removed.
Improving your credit score can take time. Don’t expect to see improvements after one on-time payment, especially if you have a history of late or missed payments. However, over time, this small but necessary change will begin to have a positive impact on your score.