Six Tips To Help You Raise Your Credit Score
  A credit score is a three-digit number with the capacity to improve or derail our entire financial wellbeing. A high credit score can help you get lower interest rates and more perks, whereas a low score can prevent you from purchasing a car, renting an apartment, and living your life.  Here are six tips to help you improve your credit score today.     Pay Your Bills On Time    This tip is a no brainer! Paying your bills on time is crucial to maintaining and even improving your credit score. Payment history comprises 35% of your credit score, making it a significant chunk of your report. Continually paying bills on time shows the credit card company that you’re reliable. If you’re just beginning to build your credit, messing up one payment could hurt you in the future and prevent you from successfully applying for new credit cards.   According to Experian, a missed payment could stay on your report for up to seven years. That’s a long time for someone just starting out.  The best way to ensure you pay on time is by setting up reminders on your phone. Many credit card companies even offer auto-pay options which allow you to link a bank account so you never miss a payment.     Debt Consolidation    Paying off the debts you have is crucial to improving your credit score. Debt consolidation, the process of moving all your debts into one loan is one of the best ways to do this. While this will cause an initial drop, your score will improve as you pay off your loan. It might also help you get a lower interest rate which can help you pay off the loan quicker.     Don’t Max Out Your Card   Remember the 30% rule? This is important in preventing a credit score drop. Experts suggest using only 30% or less of your credit limit per month to maintain a good, very good or excellent standing. Even if you don’t go over your credit limit completely, spending more than 30% of your available credit line makes you look risky to the lender. These drops are typically only temporary and spending less the next month can help improve your score.     Keep Card Applications to a Minimum    With so many credit card options with unique perks and cashback options, it might seem tempting to apply for a new credit card. However, applying for too many credit cards can actually significantly affect your credit score. Whenever you apply for a card, the company will pull a hard credit inquiry, which showcases your entire credit history, including payments, loans, and debt. Every time a company pulls a report, it could cost you a couple of points. Nonetheless, applying to too many cards within a few months, although it may help improve your credit mix, looks risky to lenders. WalletHub recommends applying for a credit card only once a year.     Keep Unused Cards   Even if you have a credit card you rarely use, keeping it open can actually benefit you in the long run. Credit mix -- how many accounts you have open -- accounts for about 10% of your FICO score. Unless the card costs you money, it’s smart to keep the card open because when you close an account you reduce the amount of available credit you have and the percent that you use. This could potentially lower your score, even if you are spending the same as before. Moreover, when you close an account you lose your credit history which can be crucial if you close a card you’ve had for more than 10 years. The longer the credit history, the better you look to your lenders.     Check Your Reports    Credit card companies occasionally make mistakes, so it might be smart to regularly take a look. According to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re allowed a free copy of your credit report once a year from each of the three major bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can access this free credit report by visiting annualcreditreport.com or by filling out a form and sending it by mail.   You can also receive a free credit report if a company denied you a credit card, insurance or even employment. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can ask for the report within 60 days of receiving your notice. If you find an issue with your credit report you can file a dispute. This will typically require you to send a letter in writing explaining the inaccuracy, and the company will typically have 30 days to investigate. FTC has some tips and even a sample dispute letter on its website.     Keep in mind that there’s no easy fix to a bad credit score. While missed payments, hard credit inquiries, and card cancellations can negatively affect your score, following these tips will help over time. Patience is key!     Resources:   https://www.debt.org/credit/improving-your-score/   https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/improving-credit/improve-credit-score/   https://wallethub.com/answers/cc/how-often-should-you-apply-for-a-credit-card-2140660693/#:~:text=WalletHub%2C%20Financial%20Company&text=It's%20best%20to%20apply%20for,will%20hurt%20your%20credit%20score.   https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0151-disputing-errors-credit-reports
How to Get a Perfect Credit Score
  Getting a perfect credit score is no easy feat. It takes time, energy, commitment, and you’ll need to practice good payment and spending habits. However, getting an 850 credit score isn’t impossible. Here are five tips to help you hack a perfect score.   What is a Perfect Score? Before taking a deep dive into the perfect credit score, it’s important to understand the credit score basics. According to FICO, the average credit score in the second quarter of 2019 was 703 and roughly 58% of Americans have a credit score at or above that range. Credit scores can vary from a 300 to 850, creating different thresholds for what’s considered a reliable customer.   - Excellent: 800 to 850 - Very Good: 740 to 799 - Good: 670 to 739 - Fair: 580 to 669 - Poor: 300 to 579   Why is a Perfect or Excellent Score Important?   Getting a perfect score will definitely give you bragging rights, but any score over 800 will also give you the same benefits. Having a score in the 800 range means you’re more likely to get approved for a credit card or a loan. This is because the lender will see you as a responsible credit holder because you pay bills on time and make good money decisions. You’ll also get access to lower interest rates which are crucial in helping repay loans -- even a 2% difference could mean several thousand dollars. Ultimately, the lower the interest rate, the easier it will be to repay your loan in the long term, plus you’ll save money.   Another benefit of an 800-plus credit score is that you’ll likely qualify for better credit cards with perks and rewards programs. Even having a score over 700 and good credit habits could help you qualify for cards like the American Express Platinum Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards card, which offer a range of benefits including airport lounge access. In general, most cards for credit holders in this range offer rewards like airline miles and greater percent cashback rewards on dining, entertainment, and even travel. Keep in mind that no specific score is guaranteed approval, but having a score over an 800 will definitely help.     How Do I Attain a Perfect Credit Score?   Maintain a Long Credit History Credit history is one of the most crucial components to maintaining and attaining a perfect credit score. The length of your credit history also accounts for about 15% of your score. Maintaining a long and reliable credit history is perhaps the easiest way to obtain a perfect score, but it does take time, especially if you’re fresh out of college and just building credit. Most users in the 800 range have a credit history spanning roughly 25 years. According to data from the second quarter of 2019, those over the age of 60 had the highest credit score -- a 749 -- on average, compared to 20-29-year-olds who had a 662 on average.   Make Payments on Time In addition to credit history, payment history, which accounts for 35% of your entire score, is also crucial. A missed payment is one of the most common causes of a credit score drop, and according to Experian, one missed payment can stay on your report for up to seven years. Making payments on time shows the credit card company that you’re a responsible borrower. According to Credit.com, a late payment could lead to a 90 to 110 point drop if you have a score of 780 or higher. The greater your score, the bigger the hit, which is why it’s important to set reminders and practice good payment habits.   Lower your Credit Utilization Credit utilization -- or how much of your available credit you use per month -- is another important component of a perfect score. Experts suggest using less than 30% of your credit limit to maintain a good, very good, or excellent score. However, if you want a perfect score or at least one over 800, most users use less than 10% a month. According to FICO, users with a perfect score use 7% or less of their credit limit on average. Using less of your credit limit is certainly easier with a higher credit line. However, this will increase depending on your income and good credit history.   Apply For a New Card Sparingly To obtain a perfect score, you’ll need to have multiple credit card accounts, but these accounts should be opened sparingly. Credit mix, or how many accounts you have open, accounts for about 10% of your FICO score.  Opening multiple accounts within a short time frame will result in a credit drop from multiple inquiries and will also make you look desperate and risky to the lender. Most companies suggest waiting between six months to a year to apply to a new credit card. According to FICO, those with an 850 carried about 6.4 cards on average in comparison to the average of 3.8 credit cards in 2019.   Keep Debt Low According to FICO, most cardholders with perfect scores owed on average $3,025, compared to the national average of $6,445. Keeping your debt low, shows that you have good credit management habits and that you’re worth the risk.   A Perfect Score Isn’t Everything Keep in mind that scores change. While you may end up with an 850 in October, a big-spending trip for the holiday season could lead to a decrease in December. It’s also important to note that you don’t necessarily need a perfect score to get low-interest rates, better loans, and stellar credit card rewards programs. According to FICO, in April 2017 a little under 21% of credit scores were in the 800 range. Once you’re in that excellent range, above 800,  you’ll already qualify for the best loan rates, mortgage rates, and rewards cards. Getting an 850 isn’t the end-all and be-all, so don’t stress over perfection!  If you’re interested in learning more about what factors into your credit score, check out this article on credit scores and credit limits from Vola Finance.       Resources: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/highest-credit-score#:~:text=The%20way%20people%20get%20perfect,rarely%20open%20a%20new%20account. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/tips-for-lowering-credit-utilization https://www.novacredit.com/resources/how-long-to-wait-to-apply-for-credit-card-after-being-denied/ https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/perfect-scores-who-has-them-and-what-do-they-have-in-common/ https://upgradedpoints.com/amex-platinum-card-requirements-credit-score https://www.cnbc.com/select/average-fico-score-hits-record-high-703/
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