Looking to Improve Your Credit Score?
It’s a number that tells the story of your credit history and can greatly affect your ability to obtain a loan or a credit card. Ranging between 300 and 850, a credit score is used as the indicator of how financially stable a person is. Those on the low end of the range often have a damaged credit history as a result of simple factors including a history of late or missed payments, too-high credit utilization rates and continuous, revolving debt.
Suffolk Federal offers the following tips for improving a person’s credit score:
- Review your credit score regularly through free credit monitoring sites such as Credit Karma.
- Request a copy of your credit report from all three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) once per year so you can analyze what is presented. Dispute any errors as soon as you notice them.
- Understand your credit use ratio. Aim to use less than 30% of the total credit available to you.
- Pay down any debt – even if you missed a payment in the past. Bring all old payments current as soon as possible.
- Set up an automatic payment schedule to avoid unnecessary late fees.
- Diversify your credit. Having a mix of cards and ensuring to pay each off by the due date every month can help prove to lenders you are responsible.
- Ask for a credit limit increase on cards which will lower your overall credit utilization rate provided you stay within your spending means.
- Don’t close unused cards which have a zero-annual fee. This can lessen your credit history.
- Keep in mind that while income is separate from a credit score, your credit score will still determine whether you are approved for a loan and at what interest rate.
- Aim to build an emergency fund with three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside for any unexpected emergencies to ensure you can continue to make timely payments.
- Plan and protect your future through strategic financial counseling. Suffolk Federal offers free unlimited access to counseling services to its members through GreenPath, a financial counseling program that has been serving families for more than 50 years. To learn more, go to https://www.suffolkfcu.org/enewsletter/take-first-step-financial-wellness/
- Make sure to increase your financial knowledge. Suffolk Federal also offers a Financial Empowerment: Online Workshop which enables individuals of all levels to develop strong financial skill-sets to successfully take control of and manage their finances in an effective manner. To learn more about Suffolk Federal’s financial literacy programs, visit suffolkfcu.org/financial-literacy-program today.
Once you begin an effective program to gain control of your credit score, it may take a few months before you see an increase in the score. Remember to be proactive and take control. Being informed, utilizing the tools available and making positive credit decisions on an ongoing basis will help you to effectively manage your financial footing and place you back in a positive light.