Improving Your Credit Score on Your Own
by Jill Barnes
It is important to have a credit history in your own name, not jointly. It's also important to pay all credit charges on time and in the full amount.
How to get a credit history
Get an utility bill in your name or:
Get a low interest credit card that you pay off immediately (monthly). Beware to use it very cautiously for the purpose to gain a good credit history. Do not use it for miscellaneous purchases or impulse buying.
When closing out credit cards or bank accounts, it is a good idea to keep the oldest account open, with a zero balance, as it holds more value on your credit report that newer accounts.
Credit Utilization Ratio is how much available credit your have versus your debt.
How to Find Out Credit Score/Credit Report
It is important to know your credit score and what has been happening on your credit history. Your credit report tells perspective employers, insurance companies, credit institutions, landlords etc. all about your finances – it’s important.
One free source for annual credit reports that is government guaranteed. You can get a free credit report annually from the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion : www.annualcreditreport.com
Suggestion – request one report every four months, from a different bureau, that way you can keep track of any identity theft etc. year round. i.e. Experian in January, Equifax in May, TransUnion in September.
Credit score (aka FICO) is not free. But once hooked into Equifax, Experian, TransUnion you can request if from them for $10-$15.
Credit Counselling Services
Use only non-profit credit counseling services. i.e. Consumer Credit Counselling Service or find one in your area through National Foundation for Credit Counselling at www.nfcc.org
Beware: Do not use a for-profit company.
Video: ABC News – Foreclosure: Face the Issue Headon
A MUST: Pay off the credit card balance each month - i.e. Do not carry a balance.
For existing credit cards
1. Finding the best interest rate: www.bankrate.com
2. Call you credit card company and speak to someone to request a lower interest rate and no annual charge. Note: a lot of times interest rates are increase automatically via a computer, so talking to a person can get it reduced.
3. If you have to make a late payment, call the credit card company and request a waiver of the late fee. They will usually allow one a year without showing it on your credit history.
4. PAY THEM OFF. While there are two schools of thought (see below) be disciplined and pay them off ASAP.
1. School A:
a). Pay off the smallest first to create discipline and a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, continue to make minimum payments on other cards.
b) Tackle the next smallest outstanding balance and continue with the ‘snowball’ effect until you are credit card debt-free.
2. School B
Pay off the card with the highest interest rate first.