Why Does My Credit Score Matter

Your credit score is made up of three numbers, serving as an indicator of your financial man and woman looking at laptophistory, wellness and responsibility. These three little numbers can spell the difference between approval and rejection for a mortgage, a job, a rental unit and so much more.

We have outlined how your credit score is calculated, why it matters and steps you can take to improve your score.

How is my credit score calculated?

There are three major credit bureaus in the U.S.: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Each one collects and shares information about your credit usage with potential lenders and financial institutions. Most lenders use this information along with the FICO scoring model to calculate your credit worthiness. Some lenders use the VantageScore model instead of FICO.

While there are several slight differences between the FICO and the VantageScore formulas, both scoring models look at the following factors when calculating your score:

  • The age of your credit. How long have you had your oldest credit card? When was your first loan? An older credit history generally boosts your score.
    The timeliness of your bill payments. Are you paying all of your monthly bills on time? Chronic late payments, particularly loan and credit card payments, can drastically reduce your score.
  • The ratio of your outstanding debt to available credit. The VantageScore formula views consumers with a lot of available credit as a liability, while the FICO formula considers this a point in your favor.
  • The diversity of your credit. Lenders want to see that you have and have had several kinds of open credit. For example, you may be paying down an auto loan, a student loan and using three credit cards.
  • The trajectory of your debt. Are you accumulating new debt each month, or slowly working toward paying down every dollar you owe?
  • Your credit card usage. Financial experts recommend having several open credit cards to help boost your credit score, but this only works if you actually use the cards and pay off your bills each month. It doesn’t help much to have the cards sitting in your wallet.

How does my credit score affect my life? 

Your credit score serves as a gauge for your financial wellness to anybody who is looking to get a better idea of how responsible you are with your financial commitments.

Here are just some ways your credit score can affect your day-to-day life:

  • Loan eligibility. This is easily the most common use for your credit score. Lenders check your score to determine whether you will be eligible for a loan.
  • The larger the loan, the stricter the requirements. A poor credit score can hold you back from buying a house, a car, or getting a personal loan at .
  • Interest rates on loans. Here too, your credit score plays a large role in your financial reality. A higher score can get you a lower interest rate on your loan, and a poor score can mean paying thousands of extra dollars in interest over the life of the loan.
  • Employment. A study by the Society for Human Resources Management found that 47 percent of employers look at the credit scores of potential employees as part of the hiring process.
  • Renting. Many landlords run credit checks on new tenants before signing a lease agreement. A poor credit score can prevent you from landing that dream apartment or it can prompt your landlord to demand you make a higher deposit before moving in.
  • Insurance coverage. Most insurers will check your credit before agreeing to provide you with coverage. Consumer Reports writes that a lower score can mean paying hundreds of dollars more for auto coverage each year.

How to improve your credit score

If you’re planning on taking out a large loan in the near future, applying for a new job, renting a new unit or you just want to improve your score, follow these steps:

  • Pay your bills on time. If you have the income to cover it but find getting things paid on time to be a challenge, consider using automatic payments.
  • Pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards. Your credit score takes the trajectory of your debt into account. By paying more than just the minimum payment on your credit cards, you can show you’re working on paying down your debt and help improve your score.
  • Pay your credit card bills before they’re due. If you can, it’s best to pay your credit card bills early. This way, more of your money will go toward paying down your outstanding balance instead of interest.
  • Find out if you have any outstanding medical bills. You may have an unpaid medical bill you’ve forgotten about. These can significantly drag down your credit score, so be sure to settle any outstanding medical bills as quickly as possible.
  • Consider debt consolidation. If you’re paying interest on multiple outstanding debts each month, you may benefit from paying off your debt through a new credit card that offers an introductory interest-free period, or from taking out a [personal/unsecured] loan at . This way, you’ll only have one low-interest or interest-free payment to make each month. (Note: If you’ll be applying for a large loan within the next few months, it’s better not to open any new cards.)

It’s crucial that you make the effort to improve and maintain your credit score. It’s more than just a number; it will impact your financial wellness for years to come.  For a free copy of your credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com to get reports from each of the major credit bureaus.

Your Turn: How do you keep your credit score high? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/resources/why-does-my-credit-score-matter/
https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/mortgages/articles/how-does-your-credit-score-affect-your-mortgage-rates/
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/vantagescore-fico-score-the-difference/
https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-credit-315391

The Dos And Don’ts Of Credit Repair


If you’ve recently been rejected from a credit application of any kind, you may be poor creditlooking at a poor credit score for any number of reasons. You might have been late with your credit card payments, have an outstanding judgment against you or have even been frauded or victimized by identity theft.

Whatever the cause of the fall in your score, you’re probably looking for ways to get it back on track. Tread carefully! There are lots of dishonest opportunists looking to make a quick buck off your pressing need. Don’t become the next victim of a credit repair scam. In fact, there’s nothing a credit repair company can do for you that you can’t do yourself.

This probably has you wondering how to untangle the legitimate steps you should be taking now from the pointless and costly actions. Look no further! Our handy guide of credit repair dos and don’ts will help get you on the road to improving your credit score.

Do: Determine your actual credit score

If a recent credit application of yours has been denied, don’t take it at face value – find out why it happened. The three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – are each required to provide you with a complimentary copy of your credit report once a year, upon request. To order yours, visit annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228.

If you’ve already requested a report from each of the agencies in the last 12 months, you can still get one free of charge; you are entitled to a free report whenever a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance or employment. To qualify, just request a report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action.

Do: Review your report and dispute any errors

Once you receive your report, review it for inaccuracies. If you spot any fraudulent purchases or erroneous information, you’ll need to dispute them in writing. In your letter, identify every item you are disputing and the reasoning behind your claim. Include copies of documents that support your stance and ask that the errors be removed or corrected. It’s best to send your letter by certified mail so you can ensure the credit reporting company actually received it if that is necessary. Also, keep a personal copy of your letter and all supporting documents for your own records.

You’ll also need to dispute the charge with your actual creditor, taking the same steps you did above.

Don’t: Expect any quick fixes

Anxious as you may be to improve your score, know that there is no “quick fix” for creditworthiness. Enhancing your score takes time, lots of hard work and creating and sticking to a realistic debt repayment plan.

If your credit score is poor, you may be bombarded with promotional material from credit repair companies that promise to increase your score by 100 points in less than a month. If you think these claims sound too good to be true, you’re absolutely right. There are some legitimate credit repair companies out there, but as mentioned, there’s nothing they can do for you that you can’t do on your own – and without paying their hefty fee.

Do: Take steps toward fixing your credit

If you’ve determined that your credit report is accurate, you’ll want to take a careful look at the habits that may be leading to your unfavorable score.

Are you timely with your credit card payments? If you’re consistently late, consider setting up an automatic bill-pay system so you never forget to make a payment. Are you making headway on your debt? If you’re paying your bills on time but your debt is not going anywhere, it’s time to rethink your spending habits. Don’t shop with credit cards; use only debit or cash. Look for ways to trim your expenses, like couponing wherever possible, planning dinner menus around sale items, and finding cost-free ways to relax instead of blowing money at a restaurant or on retail therapy.

Are your monthly bills unmanageable? If you can’t make it through the month and still meet all of your minimum payments, your debt may need an overhaul. Consider debt consolidation, in which your debt is transferred to one low-interest account, or a balance transfer to a card that has an interest-free period. Be aware, though, that lots of open credit is not considered favorable by creditors; close as many accounts as you open – but leave your oldest one open as it shows a longer period of credibility.

Also, no card is interest-free forever. When the introductory period ends, you may be hit with higher than usual interest rates. Alternatively, you can contact your creditors and work out a more reasonable payment plan.

If these options don’t sound feasible, try finding ways to increase your income instead, using all extra cash exclusively for paying down your debt.

Don’t: Expect to see any changes immediately

Don’t fret if you’ve made strides toward fixing your credit and haven’t yet seen an increase in your score. Creditors will only report to the credit reporting agencies on a periodic basis, usually once a month. It may take upward of 30 days or more for your account to be updated and your score to improve.

Do: Ask us for help

Here at Destinations Credit Union, we’re all about helping you manage your finances. If you’re in financial trouble of any kind, we can help! Look into our credit counseling services and assistance with creating and sticking to a budget. [We even offer debt consolidation loans, providing you with the opportunity to transfer your debt to one low-interest loan, making the prospect of paying down your debt a lot more manageable.]

Your Turn: Have you drastically improved your credit score? What was your secret weapon? Share your success and best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.credit.com/credit-repair/

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0058-credit-repair-how-help-yourself
http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/improving-credit/credit-repair/

Changes In The VantageScore System

The VantageScore system is getting an overhaul. Many people wonder what kind ofa1522-credit2breport changes are being made and how will this affect the way their score is calculated.

The VantageScore, which dictates the way credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion and Equifax — determine your credit score, is going through a shake-up this fall. The company is looking deeper into specific circumstances and what they say about your financial responsibility.

Having a favorable credit score comes into play when you need to qualify for financing on a new car, if you’re opening a new credit card, or you want to take out a loan. In each of these scenarios, your credit score is the most important deciding factor for your approval, and will also influence your terms and interest rates.

It’s important to note that the new system will not impact mortgage loans. This is because few mortgage lenders use VantageScore; most use FICO scores to verify eligibility.

The changes will affect the credit scores of many people, though, for better or for worse. It’s wise to learn all you can about these changes so you can make the necessary adjustments to your credit behavior.

Lucky for you, we’ve made it easy! We’ve broken the changes down into the three main areas they impact, and then we’ve simplified it by telling you what these changes mean for you.

Read on to learn all about it!

1.) Trended data and trajectories

What it means:

Under the modified system, VantageScore won’t just check if you’re meeting your minimum monthly payments; it will consider trended data, too. This means the company will analyze the trajectory of your debts on a month-to-month basis. They want to know the direction in which your finances are going. Are you gradually paying down debt, or are you scraping by with the minimum payments as your balance slowly grows?

What it means for you:

In the past, your score wasn’t affected by growing debt as long as you were making the minimum payments on your cards. Now, if you’re careful about making the monthly payment but your balance is increasing each month, your credit score will take a hit.

Conversely, if you’re working toward actually paying down your debt, your score will likely get a boost. If you don’t fall into this category, it’s time to get serious about doing away with your debt for good. Even small steps toward this goal will be recognized and rewarded.

2.) Large credit lines

What it means:

Having lots of available credit was once considered a mark of good credit. After all, if the companies deemed you responsible enough to merit all that credit, it’s gotta be a good thing, right? Well, not anymore.

With the new system in place, VantageScore will mark a borrower negatively for having excessively large credit card limits. The theory behind this rationale is simple: lots of open credit means the borrower can quickly rack up a huge bill.

What it means for you:

If you enjoy an excellent credit score, you likely have a large line of credit available and will be negatively impacted by this change unless you take action. This change also upends the old advice that the more credit cards you have open, the better. The rationalization behind that maxim was to build your available credit, and thus, improve your score. With the modified system, though, the opposite is true.

Let’s say Bob has $4,000 in credit card debt with a $40,000 limit across several cards. He’s only using 10% of his available credit. In the past, this would net him a higher credit score. Bill, on the other hand, has $1,500 in debt out of an $8,000 limit. In the past, this modest credit limit would lower his score.

With the new changes in place, the realities are shifting. Bob, who has a lot more available credit, will likely score lower than Bill, who only has $6,500 available to borrow.

Aside from those who enjoy prime credit scores and have several open cards, this change will also affect people who enjoy playing the credit card rewards-and-points game.

Whichever category you fall into, it’s best to use less than 30% of your available credit. Also, if you have a large credit line open across several cards, consider closing some of your cards to lower that number. Finally, if you’re thinking of opening a new card in the near future, ask for a smaller credit limit over a larger one.

3.) Medical debt, tax liens and civil judgments

What it means:

Medical debt, tax liens and civil judgments will no longer be factors at play when determining your credit score. These elements are being removed with the rationale that they often harm a credit score prematurely and are later proven erroneous. Civil judgments and tax liens are often inaccurate, and can significantly lower one’s score before the error is corrected. Similarly, medical debt can hurt credit scores before insurance can reimburse the borrower for the payments.

What it means for you:

If you’ve had any of the above dragging down your credit score, you have cause to celebrate. In fact, you might even see a jump of as much as 20 points to your score! On the flip side, if you have negative marks from things like delinquencies and debts that have gone to collection agencies, this new rule won’t help you much.

If you are looking for a way to track your credit score for free, take a look at WalletHub.*

*Please note: WalletHub gives you TransUnion and VantageScore credit scores.  Not all lenders use TransUnion, so your score when you apply for a loan may be different.

Your Turn: Do you think the new system encourages responsible use of credit? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2017/04/19/credit-score-changes-2017/  
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/19/major-changes-coming-to-how-your-credit-score-is-calculated.html   
https://amp-usatoday-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/amp.usatoday.com/story/100653342/   
http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/24/changes-coming-in-the-fall-to-how-major-credit-score-is-calculated/
https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/changes-might-raise-your-credit-score/
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/vantagescore-fico-score-the-difference/
https://thepointsguy.com/2017/04/changes-credit-score-calculations/