How to Dramatically Increase Your Credit Score

Published: 14th May 2007
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Everyone is concerned about their credit score, and they certainly should be! Our lives are controlled and run by our credit scores. Nobody said it was fair but that's the way it is. We have these powerful credit gods that sit up high on their thrones and tell us what our credit score is and what we can or can't qualify for and if we will get a high or low interest rate.



Whoever said life was fair didn't have to worry about his credit score! Why do we stress out when someone has to run our credit report to see if we qualify? Why do we worry that we're not going to qualify for the loan we need? And why don't they ever want to explain to us the reasons our credit score isn't high enough to qualify - why not? Why does our credit score have to be such a mystery?



People ask me everyday, "how is my credit score determined, and what can I do to raise my score?"



All creditors (creditors being the companies you pay bills to), report to the three big credit bureaus at the beginning of every month. Transunion, Experian & Equifax are the three credit bureaus who control all your credit data and determine your credit score.



Your score will change for the better or worse depending upon what you've done in the last 30 days. If you learn how to manage your credit then your scores will go up and stay high month after month.



Unfortunately, the reverse is also true - and very damaging.



If you don't learn how to manage your credit, your scores can drop 30, 40, even 50 points in a month and you will never know why! Even if you've never been late with any payment ...ever, unless you know how to manage your credit your scores can go down each month.



So, here are 4 simple steps you can do to manage & raise your credit scores and keep them high. Believe me, they are simple, and I guarantee they work.



1. Try to keep all your credit card debt to less than 50%, or at about 50% of the credit limit. Example: if you have a $10,000 credit limit, then keep what you owe under $5000.

This shows that you have credit available and that you're not maxed out on your credit limit.



2. Don't close credit cards that you've had for several years just because you received a new card with a lower Interest rate.



If you have had a credit card for 5 years (60 months) and it has a credit limit of $4500, then you have had 5 years of reporting to the 3 bureaus each month on that credit card. 5 years of hard work where you've made your payment on time (hopefully) and that makes a huge impact on your credit score. So, let's say that this month you get a lower interest credit card in the mail and you want to transfer your balance to the new one. OK, that's fine, but by all means, don't close the one you've had for 5 years and don't max out the new credit card limit with the balance transfer - this will make your credit score go DOWN, I promise you that!



3. Don't go out and apply for new credit all over town! Especially if you are about to look for a new mortgage.



If you're going to apply for a new credit card and want to shop around and let every company that you find run your credit report, your credit scores are going to go into a tailspin, and fast.



The same principal applies if you're shopping for a car. Get your credit report before you go looking for a car and take it with you. Then the car dealers you go to won't have to run your credit report - wow, that makes sense, eh?



Be very selective about who you let run your credit report. Remember - no one can run your credit without your permission and they can't run your credit unless you give them your social security number. Be careful of your credit and protect it like your bank account.



4. Don't pay off old collections or judgments! Wait a minute - your telling me not to pay off what I owe - why is that?



If you have collection companies calling you week after week telling you their going to report you to the credit bureau and that you need to pay this old bill you have - believe me, you've already been reported to the credit bureaus and your credit score has already been affected.



If the collection or judgment is over 3 years old, be very careful how you go about paying it if you're going to pay it at all. A 3-year old collection doesn't have near the same impact as if it just happened last month. Your credit score has had 3 years of new reporting since this collection was reported. If you pay off a collection, it will report again against the collection and your score will go down.



The better strategy is this: try to negotiate a settlement with the creditor and make sure they agree to the settlement terms. Sometimes you can even get a creditor to agree to remove it from your report - this takes some real friendly talk though, so don't lose your temper when talking to a collection company; just be polite, you'll get further.



Oh, and before I forget, if you have some rude collection agency calling you and making you a nervous wreck, you can tell the creditor not to call you again! They must follow laws about harassing consumers.



Here's an example. Try to follow me on this ...let's imagine you have 4 credit cards with $7500, $4500, $8500 and $11000 in credit limits on them. That would give you a total credit limit (not debt) of $31,500...are you with me so far?



OK, so, if you owed the full $7500 on one and the full $4500 on another, and had zero balance on the other 2, you'd owe $12,000 out of a possible $31,500 of credit debt.



But...here's the problem. You're "maxed out" on 2 of the credit cards and owe zero on the other 2 cards. This could make your credit scores go down....that's not good credit management. It's better to spread the $12,000 onto the 4 credit cards, say $3000, $2000, $3000, and $4000. Then you don't owe more than 50% on any of them and your credit scores will go up! Amazing, isn't it?



If you follow these simple steps on a regular monthly basis, and learn how to manage your credit, then your credit scores will go up and you'll be happy. I realize there may be times when you can't follow the steps, but it you can go back to the steps, and then you'll be OK. May the credit gods be with you!



About the Author: Robbie Hopcraft is an experienced mortgage broker, living in Key West, Florida. You can learn more about his expertise at http://www.robbiehopcraft.com and http://www.myloanapproved.com.




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