In the United States, a good credit score can be just as important as your social security number or money in your bank account. Your credit score is not just a number, it is an important factor of your financial health. In this article, we will discuss what is a good credit score, and some tips that can help you improve it.
Why is good credit important?
When you apply for a new credit card, your bank or lender will most likely check your credit score. If you have a good credit score, you may qualify for a lower interest rate, compared to someone who has a bad credit score. This can make a big difference in repayment costs over the length of the loan. For example, if you have a good credit score, you may qualify for a 12% yearly interest rate, while if you had a bad credit score, then you may only qualify for the 24% interest rate credit card. Mortgages and auto loans also factor in credit scores when it comes to giving you good or bad loan terms. Something that you may not have known is that even utility companies may check your credit score before giving you service. Another thing that you should keep in mind, is that landlords and employers may check your credit score before allowing you to lease their house or work at their company. This is why it is important to try and maintain a great credit score throughout your life.
What is a good and bad credit score?
One of the most popular methods that banks use to check a person’s credit score is searching up their FICO score. The FICO credit score is one of the most accurate representations of a person’s credit. Some factors that affect the FICO score are length of credit history, payment history, and total amount of debt. The lowest credit score a person can have is 300, while the highest is 850. You can use this information as an approximate reference, 300-580 is a poor credit score, 580-670 is fair, 670-740 is good, 740-800 is very good, and 800-850 is exceptional. This is a good estimation on where you might be in terms of your credit score rating.
What can I do to improve my credit score?
One of the biggest factors when it comes to improving your credit score is paying your bills on time and in full each month. If you have a credit card bill due on the 8th of the month, make sure that bill is paid on time consistently. Something that you can do is set up auto bill payments, this can help you make your payments on time each month just in case you forget to pay it. Another important factor when it comes to improving your credit score is to be aware of your current revolving utilization percentage. Revolving utilization has to do with the amount of credit you are given, compared to the amount that you actually use. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit card but only use $100, your revolving utilization percentage will be 10%. Try and keep your revolving utilization percentage under 30% if possible. If your revolving utilization percentage gets too high it may hurt your credit score, because you will be seen as a high risk borrower. The higher your debt is, the higher chance that you will default on your loan. One more thing you should keep in mind is the length of credit history can also affect your credit score. If you are a young person with a low credit score, try not to feel bad. With consistent on time payments your credit score will slowly begin to increase over time.
What are some things that may hurt my credit score?
Your credit score is very important and should not be taken lightly. One thing that can dramatically hurt your credit score is co-signing a credit card for a family member or friend. If this person pays on time then there should be no problem. The problems start to begin when the person you cosigned for starts paying their bills late, or stops paying their bills altogether. This is a situation that happens all the time, and you should be careful getting yourself into a bad dilemma. Think carefully before you decide to cosign a credit card for anyone, if they don’t pay, then it will be your credit score that will suffer. Another thing that may hurt your credit score is applying for too many credit cards in a short amount of time. Each time you apply for a credit card, the lender has to “pull” your credit, which may lead to a lower credit score in the short term. Over time if you don’t apply for too many credit cards, your credit score will slowly increase again. Another thing that many people don’t know is that there are sometimes mistakes on your credit report. It is important to double check your credit report every few months or so to verify the report is correct. Sometimes there may be mistakes that pop up on your credit report and these mistakes must be fixed as soon as possible. Don’t ignore these mistakes because they can really hurt your overall credit score.
Picture Credit: Crello