Improve Your Credit Score
Credit scores only consider the info in your credit profile. They do not take into account income, savings, amount of down payment, or personal factors like sex ethnicity, nationality or marital status. Fair Isaac invented FICO specifically to exclude demographic factors like these. Credit scoring was developed to assess a borrower’s willingness to repay the loan while specifically excluding any other irrelevant factors.
A Score that Really Matters: The Credit Score
Before deciding on what terms they will offer you a mortgage loan, lenders must discover two things about you: whether youcan repay the loan, and how committed you are to repaythe loan. To assess your ability to repay, they look at your income and debt ratio. To assess your willingness to repay, they use your credit score.
Fair Isaac and Company calculated the first FICO score to assess creditworthiness. We’ve written a lot more on FICO here.
Past delinquencies, derogatory payment behavior, current debt level, length of credit history, types of credit and number of inquiries are all considered in credit scoring. Your score comes from both the good and the bad of your credit report. Late payments lower your credit score, but consistently making future payments on time will raise your score.
For the agencies to calculate a credit score, you must have an active credit account with six months of payment history. This history ensures that there is enough information in your credit to calculate a score. If you don’t meet the minimum criteria for getting a score, you might need to work on a credit history before you apply for a mortgage.
How Can you Improve Your Credit Score?
It’s virtually impossible to change your score in the time between when most people decide to buy a home or refinance their mortgage and when they apply. So the short answer is, you really can’t “on the spot.” But there are strategies you can live with to make sure when you apply for a loan your score is as high as possible.
Make sure that the information each of the three credit reporting bureaus has on you is consistent and up to date. Order a copy of your credit report about once a year, and dispute any inaccuracies.
Note: Theoretically, if a series of credit reports is requested on your behalf during a limited amount of time, your score goes down until time passes without any inquiries. Changes in the law though have made “consumer-originating” credit report requests not count so much. Also, a series of requests in relation to getting a mortgage or car loan is not treated the same as a number of credit card requests in a limited time. This is because the credit bureaus, and lenders, realize that people request their own credit reports to keep up with what’s on them, and smart consumers shop around for the best mortgage and car loans.
- Unsolicited credit card solicitations in the mail don’t count against your credit report, so don’t worry.
- The two main components of your credit score are your payment history and the amounts you owe. Bankruptcy filings and foreclosures, which can stay on your credit report for as long as 10 years, can significantly lower your score. It’s never a good idea to take on more credit than you can handle.
- Late payments work against you. It’s extremely important to pay bills on time, even if it’s only the monthly payment.
- Don’t “max out” your credit lines. Since the size of the balance on your open accounts is a factor, lower balances are better.
- It’s said that by carefully managing your credit, it’s possible to add as much as 50 points per year to your score.