Improve Your Credit Score – 5 Easy Steps

We all want or could use a great credit score. So much of our lives revolve around credit or the lack thereof. Just yesterday a potential client called because an old apartment complex was reporting that he breached his lease, when he believes he did not, leading to denials of credit by other apartment managers. As a bankruptcy lawyer helping families resolve debt issues in and out of bankruptcy, I see these types of cases all the time. Car payments and mortgage payments are driven by how good are scores are. The cost of credit for those with poor credit scores can be devastating preventing folks from building up savings and getting ahead.

Well, the steps below are a good starting point for getting and keeping a great credit score. It takes hard work and sacrifice, but the potential cost of not getting it done is too high. Just ask anyone paying 24% on a car note or 11% on a mortgage. Failure to act on these steps is just as stupid taking your hard earned paycheck and throwing it out the window. Enough preaching…Let’s get to it.

  1. Stay on top of your credit score.

As we all know, this is the biggest factor in determining whether you get a loan and what interest rate you receive.  Banks and credit companies such as Discover and Wells Fargo have offered free credit scores. You can also search online for other sources, but be careful not to get locked into costly monthly payments.

  1. Read your Free Credit Reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.

First, the reports are free from annualcreditreport.com. You can get your report instantaneously to print or download as a pdf. All others can get reports via regular mail. Why are not doing it? Check the report for errors. You might be in the 5% of consumers that a 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found had errors that could impact their ability to get credit or paying higher interest rates. Translation: Errors cost you money. So go fix them. I am pulling my free credit reports now!

  1. Get Caught Up on Debt.

Delinquency is a red flag for your creditors. Set up a payment plan to bring your debt current. Often I hear from clients who are looking to buy a home and have to set up a payment plan on years-old judgments that they had ignored. This delays the time they can begin to even look for homes because potential lenders want a letter indicating the loan is being paid before a pre-approval is issued. Secondly, realtors want that pre-approval letter before showing you homes because they don’t want to waste time with folks who want the mcmansion but can only get approved for a one-bedroom. Get started now so you can do whatever you want later.

  1. Lower you Debt…Duh!

I know this is easier said than done. I know how hard it is because a law school education costs as much as a mortgage nowadays, so I know your pain. But, if we want that score to move up we have to keep hitting that debt as much as we can.  Experts suggest even the smallest actions now will pay big dividends later. Commit to a plan. Seek help. Consumer Credit Counseling Services is a good resource. I would avoid most debt settlement companies that charge exorbitant fees. I have seen too many folks who have paid hundreds of dollars per month to some of these companies in management fees without tangible results. Read the fine print.

  1. Limit Inquires on your Credit.

Experts say that too many inquiries on your credit could hurt your credit score. While not inquiries are the same. Some may negatively impact you. Don’t apply for every credit card out there right before you start shopping for a home.

Parting words

Like a good wine or cigar, good credit takes time to build. Take action today and reap the rewards for years to come. All it takes is one step a time. Good luck on your journey to a killer credit score!