FICO scores calculated by software creator Fair Isaac Corp. are used by major credit reporting agencies to gauge credit risk. The scores range from 300 to 850; the lower the score, the higher the interest rate on your loan. Over a 30-year mortgage, even a percentage point can translate into thousands of dollars.
Here are a few ways to improve your credit score:
▪ Set up recurring calendar reminders to pay your bills on time. Late bills not only incur late fees, but can hurt your credit, too.
▪ Start establishing good credit by applying for a secured credit card. Use a savings account to fund your credit card and pay it off monthly. While high interest credit cards are not ideal, if paid on time they can help improve your credit rating. Websites such as creditcards.com and bankrate.com can help determine the best card for you.
▪ Pick the right financial institution. Credit unions are member owned, are typically more forgiving and offer great rates on all types of credit, including mortgages and car loans.
▪ Know what is on your credit report. Use sites such as CreditKarma.com to monitor your credit.
▪ Face the music. If you’re overdue, call the company and request a payment plan. You don’t want collection agencies pursuing you.