When it comes to your credit report and credit score, what you don’t know can definitely hurt you! That’s because many lenders use a risk-based lending system. The better your credit score, the less you will pay to borrow money on everything from mortgage loans to credit cards. This could literally save you hundreds of dollars every month. Your credit score also serves as an indicator of your general financial health and is used as a screening tool when you apply for a job or want to rent an apartment.
How Your Score is Calculated
The most common scoring model looks at more than 20 factors in five categories.
- Bill payment history (35 percent of the score)- On-time payments are a plus, late payments, collections or bankruptcy are negatives.
- Outstanding debt (30 percent)- The total amount you owe to various creditors is evaluated, as well as the amount owed compared to the amount of credit you still have available on lines of credit and credit cards.
- Your history (15 percent)- The more years you’ve had credit, especially with the same creditors, the better you’ll do in this category.
- Types of credit (10 percent)- A variety of credit such as credit cards, installment loans, mortgages and auto loans show that you know how to manage your money.
- New credit applications (10 percent)- Many new credit applications in a short period of time may indicate financial distress, although the model compensates for people who are shopping for the best rate on a mortgage or car loan.
You may be surprised to know that these factors are NOT considered when calculating your credit score: Age, race, sex, job or length of employment at your job, income, education, marital status, past denial of credit, length of time at your current address, whether you own a home or rent.
Making a Favorable Impression with Your Credit Score
The first step is to take a realistic look at your credit score. A great place to start is by requesting a free copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com.
Here are things you can do to maximize your score:
- Incorrect information? Carefully review your report and report any inaccuracies to credit bureaus, then follow up to make sure they are corrected.
- Late payments? If you’ve had problems paying bills on time, get organized by setting up automatic payments or using an online bill payment system that will enable you to schedule recurring and future payments.
- High balances? Create a plan to pay down your balances, starting with the lowest balance credit card or loan first, and budget for the extra amount needed to pay down debts. Closing accounts will not bring your score up and may actually lower it because it will appear that you are closer to maxing out your available credit.
Get Your Finances Back on Track
Solutions from Patriot Federal
Whether your credit score is high, low or somewhere in between, it makes sense to review your current obligations to see where you may be able to save money.
- Refinance or Consolidate at a Lower Rate
Rates are at historical lows. Take a look at your current loan rates and compare them to today’s rates and chances are you’ll see where you can save money by refinancing. Patriot Federal can help by refinancing your home mortgage, home equity line of credit, auto loan, credit cards and more. Another option is to consolidate your debts into one low interest loan. Click here to see Patriot Federal’s current rates. Apply online or call 717-263-4444 or 301-766-7328 for a no-obligation loan quote.
- FREE Resources to Help You Manage Your Finances
BALANCE Financial Counseling
With BALANCE, confidential and FREE advice is available from certified financial counselors on debt management, credit counseling, home buyer education and more. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, click here.
Less than Perfect Credit? We Can Help
At Patriot Federal, we’ve put the credit union philosophy of “People helping People” into action. If you need money to fix up your home or buy a vehicle, but haven’t applied for a loan because of credit concerns, call or stop in to see us. We have helped many members who have less than perfect credit. We will treat you with respect and work to help find solutions that meet your needs.
Need to Establish or Re-Establish Your Credit? Patriot Federal offers secured loans and credit cards that utilize your Share Savings or Share Certificate account as collateral. It’s an excellent way to establish credit as your savings continue to earn dividends.