Credit scores are a lot more important today than they ever were in the past. Having a low credit score means higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans and credit cards. Potential employers, landlords, cell phone providers and insurers also frequently check the credit history of applicants.
You can find a temporary fix by comparing secured credit cards at MoneySupermarket, but keep in mind that rescuing a low credit score is a lot like losing weight. It’s going to take some time and effort.
Check Your Credit Report
Start your resuscitation efforts by requesting a copy of your credit report and checking it for errors. Make sure all of your personal information is up to date and correct.
Look at each item in your report and make sure all of the accounts are actually yours and the balance it says you owe for each account is accurate. If you find any errors, dispute the items with the reporting credit bureaus.
Negative items, including late payments and collections accounts, stay on your report for seven years from the date that you first fell behind. Bankruptcies can stay on your report for up to ten years. Tax liens and judgments stay on your report indefinitely unless you pay them off in full.
Pay Down Your Debt
Your debt-to-available credit ratio makes up 30% of your credit score. To reduce this ratio, you must start paying off your debts while avoiding charging any more purchases.
Using your credit report, make a list that includes all of your accounts along with the interest each line of credit charges. Create a payment plan where you focus on paying off the credit account with the highest interest first.
Keep in mind that you still need to make the minimum monthly payments on all of your other accounts. Once the first account is paid in full, start focusing on the account with the next highest interest rate.
Improve Your Payment History
Payment history contributes 35% to your credit score calculation. Unfortunately, problems such as late or missed payments are not easily fixed. If your payment reaches your creditor just one day late, it will negatively affect your credit score.
Late and missed payments won’t haunt you forever. Start reviving your credit score by making all of your payments on time. Set up payment reminders or enroll in automatic payment programs to help you with this task.
If your payment due date is inconvenient for you, call the creditor and ask them to change the date. Most creditors will be happy to work with your schedule.
Limit Credit Inquiries
Every time a potential creditor checks your credit history, your record suffers a little ding. A lot of little dings add up to a great big dent, however. A good rule of thumb is to only open new lines of credit when it is absolutely necessary.
Don’t Close Older Accounts
You might be tempted to close your credit accounts once you pay them off. Don’t do it. Part of your credit score is calculated by the length of your credit history.
Closing older, unused accounts only reduces your debt-to-available credit ratio, which will in turn lower your credit score.