My FICO Score

How To Boost My FICO Score

Improving My FICO Score is what you should focus on. It’s a seemingly complex issue which can take months to show results—and particularly with bad credit profiles—sometimes years. That being said, there are many ways you can use to repair your credit and boost your credit score. Many of these methods are easy to incorporate into your financial lifestyle and can be fruitful in helping you obtain loans or credit cards to fund your future.

 

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During some point in your life, you will need to borrow money to assist in purchasing a car or a mortgage for a home. No matter what you are investing in, your credit score will be the ultimate determining factor as to whether you can obtain favorable interest rates, and oftentimes, even get approved. Besides low rates, a solid credit score will give you access to more immediate cash and provide you with a higher quality of life. Credit scores can affect auto insurance rates and even the possibility for employment!

Below, we explore several methods one can use to achieve a higher, cleaner credit profile and solutions you can immediately implement to boost your FICO credit score. But what is a FICO score anyway, and why does it matter?

 

 

FICO Scoring Explained

Whenever you apply for credit, potential lenders will want to gauge how likely you are to pay your bills on time—essentially, it’s risk determination. Most creditors use the FICO score to assess applicants, manage accounts and come up with rates for each individual. A FICO score is a three-digit number which ranges from 300 to 850 (or 900 for certain industry-specific scoring models). These scores are affected greatly by your credit reports, or statements generated by consumer credit reporting bureaus which list  your credit activity and details. They are used by lenders in determining how risky of a buyer you are.

 

FICO, or Fair Isaac Corporation, introduced the first credit score in 1981. This company holds a reputation as one of the most time-tested credit rating companies in the U.S. FICO now reaches across various industries, each containing various relative scoring models and credit products. As such, while most people think of a FICO score as a single credit score, this can actually refer to one of many scores. This can fall into one of two major categories:

 

  • Base FICO scores (the most widely used)
  • Industry-specific FICO scores (tailored to certain products such as credit cards or auto loans)

 

FICO primarily creates three versions of its base scoring model to work with the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and Transunion. There are various editions of each model, designed to improve upon the last version with more predictive and reliable scoring methods. The more recent version of this model is FICO Score 9, but some other lenders may use FICO Score 8 or older (which they are allowed to).

 

Why are FICO Scores Important?

FICO scores are used by almost all lenders, credit card providers, and insurance companies to ascertain your creditworthiness. The higher your scores, the more likely you are able to land better rates and terms on loans and get approved for large purchases. Some lenders may even require a threshold minimum credit score you must have before being approved. If you get approved with a lower score, it can end up getting you worse credit terms with higher payback amounts.

 

What affects your FICO Score?

FICO scores depend on the information from your credit report, which can be broken down into a few different weighted categories which can lower or raise your score. Here are the five major categories, with their percentage value of the overall score:

Payment history (35%): Paying your bills on time is one of the most important factors which can affect your credit score. Payment history includes on-time and missed or late payments on credit accounts and public records such as bankruptcies.

Amounts owed (30%): How much you owe on an account, such as an installment loan or credit card, along with the portion of available credit being utilized accounts for about a third of your score.

Length of credit history (15%): The age of your accounts (including the age of your oldest and newest accounts) and the average age of all your accounts make up 15% of your score. This also includes how long it’s been since you last used an account.

Credit mix (10%): Credit mix refers to how diverse a palette of credit lines you have. this includes the account types (such as mortgages, credit cards and retail loans).

New Credit (10%): New credit inquiries and recently opened accounts affect about a tenth of your overall score.

 

How To Fix Your Credit History in 5 Steps

As with navigating anything in life, it’s helpful to have a roadmap to understand the terrain you are embarking into before jumping in. As such, we’ve provided a comprehensive guide below to help you understand the key factors behind what affects your FICO credit score and what you can do to boost your score!

  1. Check Your Credit Reports for Errors or Inaccuracies

The first step towards repairing your credit score is to obtain proper copies of your credit report. Two free and easy ways are by going to AnnualCreditReport.com, which provides a free yearly copy of your report (without your score) or by going to CreditKarma.com, a site which gives you a closely estimated score alongside major details in your report. Keep in mind that this isn’t a score determined by the FICO scoring model, just a moderately accurate score.

After receiving your credit report from all three major bureaus, it’s crucial to read through and check the reports for accuracy. An FTC study found that one in four consumers found errors hidden on their reports which could affect their score. This means error reporting is quite common. After locating an error, contact the bureaus directly and then the lender to verify the information and get the inaccuracy removed. This alone could quickly boost your score.

 

  1. Pay Your Bills on Time

Remember—derogatory marks like missed or late payments can adversely affect your score. If you can remove it, do everything possible to do so! Your payment history is the most important factor considered in scoring. As a result, the damage from not paying your accounts on time and even suffering a late payment can stay on your report for up to seven years. If you are regularly making payments, it assures lenders that you are responsible with your money. Late payments can signify financial troubles and high risk.

One good practice is rather than making monthly minimum payments, try to pay off slightly more than the base amount required. If you have trouble making minimum payments, set up automatic withdrawals from each credit account so you don’t risk missing a payment. If you can, pay off your cards in full on a monthly basis—this is widely considered the best approach. Note that while delinquent payments aren’t the best, they fade over time. The longer you pay your bills on time after a late/missed payment, the more your FICO score will increase.

 

  1. Lower Your Credit Utilization

Credit utilization, or the balance of debt to available credit, accounts for a third of your FICO score’s calculation. This can be easier to clean up than payment history but requires financial discipline. Generally, the lower your utilization, the better a candidate you are for lenders as they see you haven’t been over-extended and can properly manage your credit. The rule of thumb is to not go above 30% credit utilization in total—however, the lower the utilization, the better. According to FICO, those with a FICO 8 score of 785 or higher had an average credit utilization rate of 7%.

Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit accounts, as high debt levels can negatively affect your score. Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise scores; these are what comprises your credit history and this can damage your score. Also don’t open new accounts to increase available credit—this approach will also backfire and damage your credit report. Another way to quickly lower utilization is by requesting for a credit limit increase. This isn’t guaranteed as you must be approved, but if you have a solid payment track record and good credit score, this could help. Don’t do this if you have a bad habit of spending, though!

 

  1. Manage Collections Accounts

If you have unpaid accounts which have been sent to collections, this can severely damage your credit score. This essentially means a big issue with a lender, which needs to be sorted out. While unpaid collections accounts can be quite complex, there is one major method towards solving this problem. Request a debt verification letter before paying off the lender who claims to owe you money. This is because it’s common for banks to sell your loans to other banks or lenders who will buy it for pennies on the dollar. If you pay without asking for verification, you could possibly pay the wrong lender!

 

  1. Optimize Your Account Age, Credit Mix, and Inquiries

The final components of your score include the age of your accounts, the spread and variety of credit accounts, and the number of new inquiries on your report. As your accounts mature, you’ll receive credit score bumps. Having established accounts for longer shows you have maintained your credit for a while, and are a better borrower. Don’t resort to opening accounts as a credit repair solution—just monitor and be mindful of the open accounts you have. This is especially important if you plan to have a large investment or purchase, such as a mortgage or auto loan coming soon. Having a good mix of credit accounts is favorable. As such, if needed, try submitting utility payments to build your credit history. The only downside to this is that Experian is the only bureau that accepts utility payments in your report.

Your credit score and credit report are defining pieces of information in your financial life. They can determine your future success and ability to grow. Be sure to follow these practices to help build your credit and repair your FICO score, and watch as the possibilities grow! If you require further help with managing credit reports or boosting your credit score, feel free to reach out to us at TyeStyle Credit Solutions—one of Atlanta’s most trusted credit repair and management companies!

 

➤ Need Funding or Building Your Business Credit? Click Here
➤ Need to Boost Your Credit Score? Click Here
➤ Connect with us on Facebook: TyeStyle Credit Solutions LLC
➤ Follow The Credit Lady on Instagram: @TyeStyleCreditLady

*Connect with us on Facebook: TyeStyle Credit Solutions LLC
*Follow The Credit Lady on Instagram: @TyeStyleCreditLady

 

 

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