10 Tips on Maintaining a Good Credit Score
Below is some great information for every consumer on first getting, and then maintaining a good credit score.
Monitor Your Credit Report
First, in order to know if you have a good credit score, enroll for an online credit monitoring system that alerts you if there are changes to your report and/or credit score. We suggest SmartCredit.
Use Credit Cards Like a Debit Card
For building and maintaining a good credit score treat your credit card like it’s a debit card. If you can’t afford to pay off a purchase at the end of every month don’t make that purchase. And, use cards with benefits (travel, points, etc.)
Credit Card Balances
If you have to maintain a balance on your credit cards make sure it is low relative to your limit. A good rule of thumb is under 30% of the limit. The credit reporting agencies all consider debt to limit ratios an impact factor in calculating a good credit score.
Use of Credit Cards
If you have credit cards use them periodically, even just once every few months. A dormant card reduces the impact on a good credit score.
Resist Department Store Cards
If you have major cards you don’t need a store card. They usually come with annual fees and high interest rates.
Resist Co-signing for Others
When you co-sign for another on any type of loan you give up control of credit history to another person. If that individual is late on a payment in can cost up to 60 points and affect your good credit score.
Expand Your Portfolio
Maintaining a good credit score requires more good credit. If you have just a secured credit card, apply for an unsecured card after 6 to 9 months. But don’t have more than 3 credit cards. It’s simply not necessary.
Keep Track of Automatic Payments
Payments that are automatically deducted every month from your checking account by giving a creditor your debit or credit card must be monitored. If your card expires they can quickly turn into late payments. Late payments can have a huge impact on your good credit score.
Note Annual Fees
If you have credit cards and other accounts with annual fees make sure you pay those fees promptly. Sometimes they go unnoticed and therefore, unpaid causing late payments and delinquencies.
Keep Inquiries to a Minimum
Hard inquiries can cost you points on your credit score. Keep inquiries from prospective creditors to a minimum. Be especially careful when purchasing a car. Some dealerships and car lots will have several finance companies run reports on you all on the same day.
If Your Credit Score is Below 640, Get Help
A credit score below 640 will not typically put you in a position to qualify for a mortgage. As well, it will cost you more in interest rates and deposits for credit cards, insurance, cable, cell phone, other utilities and more.