Fact: Poor credit history and a bad credit score can have a serious impact on your life. No one wants bad credit but sometimes mistakes happen. Sometimes factors like medical bills, job loss and tragedy influence our financial profile in ways we never could have predicted. Bad credit can happen to anyone.
Factors that Damage Credit
First let’s clarify what can lower your credit score and damage your credit profile.
• Excessive Debt: If your credit cards are maxed and you have several loans, your debt profile is probably contributing to your low score
• Late Payments: The credit bureaus note any 30, 60, 90 & 120 day payment lates. It is essential that you pay your bills on time.
• Dormant Credit: A dormant credit card is an account that has infrequent or no use. In some cases, if an account has no activity for a period of time, issuers may close the account which revokes future charging privileges. Dormant accounts may not have additional debt but they also don’t help your credit score.
• Collections: If you fail to make a payment or pay off your account – the creditor may send your account to collections. This severely affects your score. Make sure to work closely with your mortgage or credit professional regarding paying off collections. Note: Collections on federal loans such as student loans will prevent you from getting financing from most (if not all) lenders.
Get Familiar with Your Credit History
It’s time to take charge of your credit profile and the first step to doing this is by getting familiar with your credit profile. You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from the following credit bureaus:
• Experian • TransUnion • Equifax
Please note that many of the advertised credit reporting companies will charge you fees. The law entitles you to a free credit report so use a site like annualcreditreport.com. You will notice that you the actual credit score is not included in the report. This is because credit scores differ between different kinds of financing. For example: a credit score for an auto loan might differ from a mortgage loan. The score is not really what’s important here. Review your credit report for any errors and misinformation. It is your job to ensure your credit report is correct.
Start Establishing & Using Your Credit Wisely
If you don’t have any or enough credit – it’s time to get some. Apply for a secured credit card (usually requires a deposit) that reports to the credit bureaus mentioned above. Don’t apply for too many cards at once as this can harm your score but make sure you are managing at least 3 cards.
Once you have your credit cards or with the cards you currently have – start using them wisely. You should use your card regularly and pay off all or most of your bill every month to start showing that you can effectively manage your finances.
This article with a harsh fact and now to end on another one: Repairing your credit takes time and discipline. Is it worth it? YES! Negative history will not go away overnight but you can do it and when you see that shining credit score at the end of the road, you’ll know just how powerful it really is. Good Luck!