Getting Your Credit on the Right Track
Question: I’m unsure about how my credit score will impact my ability to get loans in the future. How can | get started repairing my credit and how long will it take to see
Answer: It’s true – a three-digit number can make or break you when it comes to buying a car or home or getting any other line of credit.
Your credit score is essentially your financial resume. It summarizes your credit risk for potential lenders, based on a snapshot of your credit report. The good news is, it’s not a fixed mark. There are a lot of ways to impact your credit score and improve your report. And doing so, sooner rather than later, could save you thousands of dollars in interest the next time you apply for a loan.
Know Your Score
The first place to start is to get a copy of your credit report to see a detailed breakdown of the debts and potential infractions that are affecting your score. There are three credit bureaus that maintain credit records:
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can access free services and a free copy of your credit report at govaloans.com/resources. You should not pay a fee for monitoring your credit.
Every lender has a slightly different requirement for credit scores, but here is the breakdown of ranges:
Ideally you want to be in the top two categories to get the best rates and have more opportunities to secure a loan. If you aren’t there yet, there are options.
Go Solo or Lean on a Credit Repair Agent
Credit repair is the process of fixing poor credit and depending on your profile, this process can be easily managed by an individual or may require outside help.
Repairing your own credit can be labor intensive and involves going through your credit history and disputing claims that may be irrelevant or inaccurate. It is doable on your own if you have the time and energy and if not, credit repair services charge about $100 per month to do the same thing.
That said, a legitimate credit repair company can help you remove inaccurate credit information from your report with the goal of increasing your credit score. Inaccuracies can occur when creditors report incorrect information to the credit bureau. While hiring a third party can be a good option for many, be aware of scams on the internet and ensure that you are working with a legitimate credit repair company.
Get a Game Plan
Whether you go about it on your own or work with
an outside party, it’s important to have a game plan. Loan consultants, like my team at GoVA Loans, can run simulators to determine what changes you can make to impact your score so that you have a personal plan of attack customized to your situation. This can help you decide what actions matter most, including disputing charges or consolidating debt to improve your credit card balances.
Even credit reports have mistakes. It’s important to determine what, if any, items can be disputed. Disputable items may include: recorded late payments, address and name inaccuracies, duplicate reporting of an item, or suspected fraud/identity theft.
Sample dispute letters can be found online and modified for your purposes. You can send these dispute letters to the credit reporting agencies with your request for correction/deletion.
It’s ideal to use certified mail for this kind of correspondence. Typically, disputes are processed within 30 days.
Keep Your Balances Under 50%
It’s important to keep your credit balances low, and avoid going over 50% of your limit. If you are currently over that threshold, you can look at consolidating credit cards or loans to get your credit utilization under 50% and generally use less of your credit lines.
You can also reach out to larger creditors on your report to come up with a payment schedule that helps you pay down any larger lines of credit in a reasonable timeframe and keep collection issues down.
30 Days Can Change A Lot
If you are worried about a less than ideal credit score but serious about improving your overall report, you are well positioned to make quick gains. Someone with a lower score can make gains quicker than someone with a strong credit history. By paying your bills on time, using less of your available credit and cleaning up any inaccuracies, you can make positive gains in as little as 30 days.
Still have questions? Our experts are here to serve you with free credit counseling to support you on your journey to improving credit. Contact us at email@example.com.