2016 is here and many of us are looking for ways to become more financially savvy, pay off debts and improve our overall financial positions. One of the most important things you should do to keep a pulse on your financial health is to keep tabs on your credit score. It’s an integral part of almost every major purchase you will make in your life, so let’s work on keeping it spotless!
Here’s a list of 10 things you can do to give your credit score a boost in 2016!
#1 Check your credit report
Whether you’re building, maintaining or looking to improve your credit score, keeping a pulse on your credit report is an essential first step to the process.
At the minimum, you should aim to check your credit report twice a year.
You’ll get visibility into how lenders see you, if there’s any issues you should try and fix, and it can also quickly alert you to identity theft!
#2 Pay off your debt
This is a no-brainer, but it’s very important for various reasons. First of all, paying off debt will reduce interest payments and will allow you to keep more money in your pocket. But more than that, paying down debt will improve your debt service ratio.
This ratio basically shows the credit bureaus what percentage of the credit you have access to and what is being used. Lower percentages look good, whereas higher percentages can negatively impact your credit score.
Paying off your debt is a critical first step in improving your overall credit score.
#3 Setup payment reminders
One of the most important questions lenders ask when considering you for credit is whether or not you make your payments on time. Missed or late payments heavily factor into your credit score and can really hurt you if you consistently miss or make late payments.
An easy way to keep track of your payments that are due is to set up payment reminders for yourself.
Find a calendar application that can send you notifications and book an appointment date for when you’d like to make payments to each card, on a monthly basis. Google Calendar is a great option for this.
#4 Maintain accounts in your own name
Ensure that any services or products you use have you listed as the account holder. This will allow the payment history to be associated to you.
For example, if your parents bought you a cell phone plan in their name for your 18th birthday, and you’ve been the one making the payments, you will not be benefiting from your great payment history.
Instead, make sure to add your name as the account holder. You’re making the payments, you might as well get the credit for it.
#5 Pay on time!
Make sure to make payments every month in order to maintain your credit standing.
If you’ve stumbled in the past and have missed a payment, showing consistent on-time payments will allow you to look like less of a risk to potential creditors.
Staying on top of your payments and making payments on time is essential to maintaining/improving your credit score.
#6 Dispute errors
If you have any inaccurate information listed on your credit report, you can reach out the creditor and request to have the inaccurate information removed.
There’s no guarantee that they will help you out and there is no obligation on their part to do so. The way to approach this is to make sure that the issue has been resolved on your end.
From there, reach out to them and provide an explanation for why things went the way they did.
Be kind and sincere when reaching out to them and hope for the best! It also helps if you’ve been making payments to them on time since the negative incident.
#7 Settle debts with collections agencies
Collection items reported by collection agencies could seriously impact your credit score. Pay them.
One suggestion is to make an agreement with them that if you pay off debt you owe. Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report but the collection agencies will update the credit bureaus with your payments. The collection items as well as your payment history will remain visible for seven years.
With that said, it’s in your best interest to pay off any collection agencies as soon as possible, so that you don’t delay having it eventually removed from your credit report.
#8 Have patience
If you follow these steps, you’ll have a good chance at improving your credit score, but it won’t increase overnight.
Stay consistent with your payments, keep your balances low and be the type of person you would be comfortable lending money to.
After some time you will naturally reap the benefits of an improved credit score.
All the best!