Your credit score is an extremely important number that can affect your ability to make a major purchase or investment. The higher your credit score, the better, or more creditworthy you are perceived to be by lenders. This will result in lower interest rates and more purchasing options for you. To learn more about what a credit score is and how it can affect you financially click here. If you think your credit score could be better, learn how to improve your credit score by following these steps:
- Pay off debt- When improving your credit score, it is extremely important to first pay off the debt you currently have. This means stop using ANY AND ALL credit cards. Then review your credit report to see which open accounts have the highest interest rates and tackle paying them down first. Putting together a payment plan that budgets paying off your highest interest accounts while maintaining minimum payments on your current open accounts will get you out of debt quicker while increasing your credit score over time.
- Don’t be a habitual borrower- In order to permanently improve your financial situation, it is important to change your spending habits. If you always reach for your credit card when shopping then STOP; this is the source of the problem. Take a moment to think “can I truly afford this” and “do I truly need this?” Permanently staying out of debt may mean changing your lifestyle, but at the end of the day it will improve your financial situation and your emotional well-being.
- Make your payments on time- Making your payments on time and continuing to make them on time will dramatically increase your credit score, allowing you to avoid inquires on your credit report. If writing down when bills are due has not worked for you in the past, have someone close to you remind you when you have an upcoming payment due. In addition, if you have someone else paying your bills, make sure to check-in with them frequently to see if they are paying your bills on time. Creditors don’t care if missing a payment wasn’t your fault; they only care that the bill wasn’t paid.
- Set-up a budget and stick to it- Create a monthly budget that lays out how much money you have available after bills and expenses. Then ONLY buy what you can afford! Live your life as if you don’t have credit cards even if you do. It may seem extremely basic, but it’s 100% effective in increasing your credit score and to helping you stay out of debt.
- Be careful of inquiries- Every time your credit score is pulled, or you open a new credit card, your credit score takes a hit. To minimize these effects, only pull your credit score when it is absolutely necessary, and if it needs to get pulled multiple times, for example when car or furniture shopping, try to do it all in one day to avoid multiples hits against your credit. In addition, don’t open credit cards that you don’t need just to increase your available credit. This approach can backfire and actually lower your credit score.
Maintaining a high credit score and staying out of debt may mean that you need to make some major lifestyle changes. Past mistakes can affect your credit score for years to come, and might end up affecting your ability to buy that “dream house” down the line. Maintaining good credit is important to do on a consistent basis and will allow you to make major purchases without worrying about being denied or getting a high rate.
Consistently monitoring your credit report will help you to locate and eliminate problems early on before they have a major effect on your financial status. Once a year you are entitled to a free credit report from EACH of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion); so take advantage of this free service and make sure you know where you financially stand. To learn more about what a credit score is and how it can affect you financially click here.
†We offer personal loans from $1,000 to $25,000, with loans terms from 12 to 60 months. Minimum and maximum amounts dependent on an applicant’s state of residence and the underwriting of the loan. Loans between $1,500 and $15,000 may be funded online. Loans greater than $15,000 or less than $1,500 are funded through our branch network. Specific interest rates and fees are determined as permitted under applicable state law and depend upon loan amount, term, and the applicant’s ability to meet our credit criteria, including, but not limited to, credit history, income, debt payment obligations, and other factors such as availability of collateral. Not all rates and loan amounts are available in all states. Additional fees may apply to some loan offers; some state required and/or permitted fees may be treated as prepaid finance charges. Any such charges shall be in addition to the loan amount requested and/or approved and shall be fully disclosed to the applicant on his/her loan agreement. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rates or larger loan amounts, which may require a first lien on a motor vehicle not more than ten years old titled in the applicant’s name with valid insurance. Our loan by phone and online closing process requires a compatible mobile or computer device on which you can access your email and electronic documents. Not all loan types are eligible for loan by phone or online loan closing.
To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. As a result, under our customer identification program, we must ask for your name, street address, mailing address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver's license or other identifying documents.
*The process uses a “soft” credit inquiry to determine whether a loan offer is available, which does not impact your credit score. If you continue with the application process online and accept a loan offer, or are referred to a branch and continue your application there, we will pull your credit report and credit score again using a “hard” credit inquiry. This “hard” credit inquiry may impact your credit score.