Building a solid credit score can go a long way toward achieving your financial goals, but it can get a bit confusing when it comes to establishing and improving your score.
According to a recent WSFS Bank study, 66% of Millennial and Gen Zers said they know how to improve their credit score, but building good credit was a goal that 36% of respondents felt was out of reach.
Your credit can impact you in a number of ways, and you’ll want to try to achieve a good (around 700) or excellent (above 800) score before major financial moves like applying for a loan or mortgage if possible.
Here are a few ways you can look to improve your score.
Pay Down High Interest Loans
It takes time to build your credit, and the credit cards and loans you qualify early in your financial journey are likely to come with higher interest rates as a result.
Your payment history is one of the key factors that impacts your credit score, so wherever possible, you’ll want to ensure you’re paying off any debt in full each cycle. On time payments can help improve your score and will also help you avoid incurring interest charges on any debt that rolls over.
If you find yourself with multiple lines of credit, focus on paying off the accounts with the highest interest rates first, as those will cost you the most in the long run if you allow the debt to grow.
Work on Your Debt to Credit Ratio
Your credit utilization is another key factor in determining your credit score, and you want to keep your debt to credit ratio below 30% to avoid negatively impacting your score.
While you want to have a nice mix of installment credit (car and personal loans) and revolving credit (credit cards), it’s important to only open lines of credit when needed. Opening too many accounts in a short period of time can bring down your score.
Closing credit cards can also impact your debt to credit ratio, so you’ll want to keep your accounts open when possible, even if just for a minor purchase every so often. You may also see your score dip a bit when you finish paying off a large loan for a car or mortgage, but with the right credit mix the decrease shouldn’t be too large.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report
While checking your credit report too frequently can negatively impact your score, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion are providing consumers a free weekly credit report until April 20, 2022, as a result of the pandemic.
Checking your report occasionally can help you identify any errors or even instances of fraud. If you find any mistakes on your report, it is important to dispute them with the credit bureaus.
Adverse items can stay on credit reports for years, so the sooner you can have any incorrect information amended, the better.
Unfortunately, there are also a lot of credit repair scams out there that will offer to have items negatively impacting your score removed from your report. It is vital to always do proper research before working with a company offering to help repair your credit to ensure they’re reputable and operate in compliance with the applicable laws.
As with all things financial, it is important to live within your means when it comes to credit. Racking up credit card bills or high interest loans is a fast way to dig yourself into a financial hole. Only open accounts that are needed and that you’re confident you can pay back.
And if you feel you need a bit more help when it comes to gaining comfort with various financial topics, work with your bank or financial institution, or search the variety of free resources available online to gain financial confidence.
Helping you boost your financial intelligence.
Read our financial resources from your friends at WSFS.