The difference between good credit and poor credit can mean thousands of dollars in interest savings when the time comes to being approved for a mortgage, or even when applying for other kinds of loans such as an auto loan.
Higher credit scores, such as those 760 and above, can earn you lower interest rates and put you in a situation where there are more loan choices available. The opposite can be true for cardholders with scores lower than 620 as they will usually end up in the “subprime” category. Not only will the interest rates be higher, but there may be fewer loan options as well.
If you want to improve your credit score, now’s the time to make it a New Year’s resolution. These four can help get you started.
1. Resolve to monitor your credit rating:First and foremost, get a free copy of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. You should check your reports from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months. This has the added benefit of ensuring that all of the information on your credit report is correct and up to date.
2. Resolve to start building credit:If you don’t have credit or if your credit history is short, consider getting a secured credit card that reports monthly to all three credit bureaus. A secured credit card is backed up by a security deposit which serves as collateral for the credit line. By actively using a secured card for purchases and making on-time payments, you can quickly build a credit history. One of the options, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, doesn’t require a credit check or even a checking account to apply.
3. Resolve to make all payments on time:Your payment history has more impact on your credit score than any other single factor. Make sure you don’t miss any payments on your credit accounts, or on your medical and utility bills. For easier management, set up calendar reminders on your phone or set up automatic payments through your credit card online banking.
4. Resolve to keep your credit card debt below 30%When you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month, keep an eye on your credit card balance. Ideally, the balance that you owe should not exceed 30% of your credit limit at any time.
Resolving to build a better credit history can turn out to be one of the most financially beneficial decisions you could make over time. Taking the first step, such as getting a secured credit card, can jumpstart your credit and help you lay the foundation for a solid financial future for years to come.