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Five Things to Boost your Creditworthiness in 2013

Written by Diane Moogalian on January 28, 2013 in Credit  |   27 comments

Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution or part of the holiday hangover, for many people, January involves a financial overhaul. Here are five fairly simple ways to impact your creditworthiness over the rest of the year that may, over time, also boost your credit score….

improve creditWhether it’s a New Year’s resolution or part of the holiday hangover, for many people, January involves a financial overhaul. Here are five fairly simple ways to impact your creditworthiness over the rest of the year that may, over time, also boost your credit score.

1. Pay your bills on time. Because payment history makes up about 35 percent of your credit history, paying your bills on time is very important. One delinquent payment that is just 30 days late will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Remember that paying your bill in full and on time is positive for your credit history and score.

2. Check your credit report regularly. Sometimes people who know they have had some problems in the past—maxed out a credit card, missed a payment or two, or failed to pay a bill that ultimately went to collections—are afraid to check their credit report until it becomes absolutely necessary. However, it’s important to check your credit report regularly, regardless of whether you think you have a score of 550 or 750, so you can see where you stand—what debts need to be paid down, if you have any collections that need to be paid off immediately, or if there is any inaccurate information on the report. You also want to make sure you haven’t been the victim of identity theft, which can destroy your credit.

3. Pay off debt. The debt-to-available-credit ratio is another important aspect of your credit history; it’s more positive to have a higher ratio of available credit to debt. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, and you’ve charged $8,000, potential creditors might be worried about how much additional debt you can take on and about your ability to pay that debt off on time. If you only have a few hundred dollars of debt, you’ll be seen as more likely to be someone who pays debts off quickly and handles credit responsibly.

4. Fix any errors. If you discover an error, whether an erroneous address or a bill marked unpaid that you’re sure you did pay, fix it immediately. A creditor may have missed reporting a payment or you may never have received an important bill that was eventually sent to a collections agency. Start by disputing the error with the credit reporting agency—it will work to resolve the error with you and the creditor. You can also contact the creditor to see if you can resolve the error with that company. Remember to get names and take detailed notes during these conversations so you can reference them later.

5. Consider new credit opportunities. Some people have lower credit scores because they have a very thin file, meaning they don’t have much credit or have a very short credit history. Building your credit history takes time, but you can build a more positive credit report if you open more lines of credit. While it is certainly not recommended to take on debt you don’t need, you may want to try opening a retail, gas, or low-interest credit card. Keep in mind that this credit card isn’t for buying things you can’t afford; it’s about building a positive credit history. Charge only small amounts that you can easily pay off at the end of the month.

27 comments

  1. jamie says:

    in jan 07 i have a late payment when will it be removed in 2013 or 2014?

  2. christine a crognale says:

    i was to get a free credit score and never did

  3. Mike G says:

    Hello,
    My question is related to credit type mix. I currently have several credit cards (revolving), a mortgage, student loans (installment) but nothing classed at other. Could you provide an example of a “other” credit type?

    Also,
    How much is credit mix weighted into the overall score? I am asking because my score is 770 curently but the score details tools on equifax.com says I have a poor credit type mix.

    Thanks,
    MG

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Mike, great question. Your credit report may include payment information on accounts such as credit cards, credit lines; retail department store accounts; installment loans, auto and student loans; finance company accounts, home equity and mortgage loans. Your credit score is based on a number of factors and payment history and available balance are the two biggest. Types of credit is important but it has a smaller impact on your score. Here’s more information on how your credit score is calculated. I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  4. Jennifer Keller says:

    I have an auto loan account that has been paid and closed since 2004. Yet it is still showing up on my Equifax credit report. I have disputed this item to Equifax only to have an update posted on my report which I assume is keeping the report on there even longer. Experian, and Transunion have removed the account from my report already. I have reported this problem to the Federal Trade Commission in which no response from the FTC was ever given to me.

    • r boz says:

      I wouldn’t worry about it , as long as it was paid as agreed with no late payments . This will show a long history of good credit .

  5. Helen T. says:

    Any inclusion of the value of equity in one’s home in Equifax’s calculation of one’s credit score ?

    What if one owns their home w/ clear title, any recognition (in the credit score) of the value easily ‘monetized’ via sale or 1st mortgage ?

  6. BJ says:

    I’ve recently checked my CR and a company has sent an account to collection even though the insurance company had paid them and they never sent a bill for the remaining $150.00. Now my CR shows $1900 in a collection account. I have filed a dispute with all three CRA but is there any way to speed the process up? I am trying to get approved for a loan and my score dropped significantly since this “collection” is so new on my CR. Does having the company call the CRAs help?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      BJ, oh no! That’s frustrating. If this was sent to a collections company in error, it would be up to that lender to report it as such. Has the debt since been paid in full? You could show the receipts and records to the original lender and the collections agencies or to the credit reporting agencies. The lender decides what is reported so if it is an error, they can remove it. If you want to file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies, here are tips on how to do that: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/how-to-dispute-credit-report-errors/ I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

      • BJ says:

        The debt was paid in full before they even reported it. At this point the collection agency has now notified the CRAs that it was invalid. I am keeping a close eye on my Score Watch to see my score go back up. I hope when something is reported as invalid and is removed that it is like it never happened.

        • EFX Moderator, EM says:

          BJ, It’s great that the collections agency has already notified the CRAs. You should keep all documentation about this to make sure your credit file is updated correctly.

  7. Lebadiva says:

    Credit score dropped a couple of points even though I have reduced mu revolving debt from 80% to 65% and everything else remained the same for the 3 months; no late payments, and one inquiries (looking to refi my mortgage). How is this possible

  8. Lisa says:

    I wanted to know if online credit granted to me and pre-approved credit from magazines that I get in the mail are reported to the three credit bureaus? And is this a good way to rebuild my credit score?

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Lisa, great question. It’s up to the lenders if they report information to the credit reporting agencies and it’s up to them which CRAs they report to. You can also give them a call and find out if they report info before you sign up. Building a positive credit history is a good way to reestablish your credit. Here are more tips on improving your creditworthiness. I hope this helps.

  9. retracsemaj says:

    Tip 3 “pay off debt” should contain more nuance.

    Why? I think it’s inaccurate to report “snapshots” of credit balances (i.e. account balance at the time the credit card company supplied it to the credit reporting accounting). One can always pay off the balance of their cards and never carry a balance that would result in paying interest. However if charges are made around the time the billing cycle closes then one is penalized in a credit report snapshot. This is the case, even though that recent purchase falls in the next billing cycle. Many people choose to spend using a credit card and then pay off their entire balances through direct payments from their checking accounts. Think about it – so many people don’t carry cash anymore. How many people use mileage and other reward cards and pay off the entire balances each cycle?

    As a credit card users, one meets the terms of the credit agreement if the bill is paid in full. The “snapshot” approach to credit reporting would require one to make a payment on the date the billing cycle closes to report a zero balance. Additionally, one would have to stop using the card around the date the cycle closes to ensure pending transactions are not reported.

    So Tip 3 should add that when one applies for credit or a loan, one should stop using your credit cards the month before your credit is run by the prospective creditor.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      That’s a good point. It’s hard to know when your credit report will be updated by an existing lender or when it will be pulled by a prospective lender. It could be helpful to maintain a balance-to-limit ratio under 30% at all times in that case. If that’s not possible, your advice of paying down debt within 30 days of doing a credit inquiry could certainly help. Here are some more tips on how reducing your debt could improve your credit report: blog.equifax.com/credit/debt-reduction-why-paying-down-your-credit-card-debt-helps-your-credit-score/ I hope this helps and thanks for posting.

  10. danielle says:

    My 30 year credit history has taken a huge hit recently as a result of a pending divorce. Home went into foreclosure but never completed. Judgements filed for marital debt and subsequent bankruptcy on my part. (18 yr stay at home mom, unable to cover debt left to me). Now starting over credit wise. I have checked my credit and it seems as though because of the bankruptcy, my history has “disappeared”. Does bankruptcy wipe out the good and bad credit? Do I lose all of my years of good/great credit as a result of the bankruptcy? Am I truly starting fresh as though I were 18 again? My credit score has also plummeted, which I assumed would happen. Generally, how long does it take to get a credit score back up to a good level? Should my score go back up to a good level in a year? Does it take 3-5 years? I am paying my bills on time each month, but am wondering if I should take out a low limit card for gas or something that can be paid off monthly, just to “recreate” a credit history. Also, should I put an note/explanation on my credit report as to the reason behind the bankruptcy (divorce) or just explain it to creditors as I go along, if asked? Lots of questions, sorry. But looking to get back in the good credit standing.

    • EFX Moderator, EM says:

      Danielle, I’m really sorry to hear about your situation. It sounds like a lot is going on, but I’m glad to hear you’re focused on making a positive impact. Repairing your credit will take time, and it’s hard to say how long it will take, but here are some tips on how to get started: http://blog.equifax.com/credit/improve-your-credit-score-and-creditworthiness/

      You have the right idea with “recreating” a credit history, but it’s really more like reestablishing your creditworthiness. You have demonstrated positive credit behavior in the past, but you’ve hit a bump in the road and lenders want to see that it was a temporary mishap, not a pattern. Any explanation you can provide could give context to the negative items on your credit report.

      I wish you the best of luck. Please come back and let us know how you’re progressing. We’d love to hear tips you learn along the way. Thanks for posting.

  11. karen says:

    I was hoping you could clear up the credit issues when a spouse dies. I just lost my husband of 36 years. I had to close his credit cards as he was the primary on the card. My name was as a user on 7 of our cards. I also have some of my own cards. I have noticed though that some of the closures still hit my credit report on my equifax account. I think is is very unfair when closisng the cards is a requirement by federal law.

  12. william s says:

    how long does a bankruptcy stay on my credit report?…….and do I have to initiate its’ removal or does Equifax do it for me? thanks.

    • EFX Moderator, KB says:

      William S, good question. There are set time frames for how long negative information remains on a credit report, including bankruptcy. Click here for information on how long bankruptcy remains on a credit report.

  13. r boz says:

    what is the point value of an inquiry and do they fade in point value over time , for instance if you have 20 inquiries and if each inquiry drops your score by 5 point s is that 100 points or do they use a scale variation ?

  14. LEM says:

    What about a unsecured tax lien? Never got the notice to pay on a boat tax until I got a notice about a lien being filed. Paid it immediately it was 169.00. How will this affect my score?

  15. Anonymous says:

    inquiries are scaled based upon the information in your credit report

  16. laura says:

    What does the credit score mean?


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