If a new house, car, or a loan for something else are in your near future, now is a good time to learn about ways to boost your credit score. Having a good credit score means you're likely to get a much better interest rate on your loan and sometimes more favorable terms depending on the type of loan you're looking to get.
Your credit score helps predict how likely you are to repay what you borrow in a timely fashion. It helps creditors decide whether you qualify to borrow money, how much you're approved to borrow, and at what interest rate. Read What is a FICO Credit Score and Why is it Important for more information on how your credit score is determined. As you might have heard, the higher your credit score the better chance you have to qualify for a loan or credit product. Although your credit score isn't the only factor, having a higher score can also help keep your interest rate low.
This is what can be the most frustrating to keep in mind, but as you read the tips below, remember that raising your score to 800 or higher will not happen overnight or even in a couple of months, which is why raising and keeping your score high is so important. That way, you're ready if you do need to borrow.
- Review your credit report every year
There are three main credit reporting agencies that collect your credit information and create your credit report — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Federal law requires credit reporting agencies to provide your credit report to you every 12 months for free if you ask. By looking at this report, you can make sure there are no mistakes that could impact your buying power and no signs of identity theft. To order your free credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Make your debt payments on time
Around 35% of your credit score is based on whether you pay your bills on time, every time. It's a simple step that could pay big dividends down the road.
- Don't use too much credit
Nearly one-third of your credit score is based on something called credit utilization. This is basically how much credit you have available to you compared to how much you've borrowed. For example, you have a credit utilization rate of 20% if you have charged $2,000 on your credit card and have a credit limit of $10,000. Aim to keep this credit utilization rate low by making payments to reduce your debt. You can also request that your credit limit be increased, but be sure you have the willpower to resist unnecessary spending before doing so. It's better to avoid going into more debt in the first place and paying down what you owe rather than trying to increase your credit score this way if you know you would be tempted to spend.
- Make sure you have a credit card
Using a credit card responsibly can improve your credit score and helps to build a positive payment history. Just make sure to not spend too much money using the credit card and to make payments on time (consider an auto-pay option). WaFd Bank offers credit cards with competitive rates, no annual fees*, and great rewards.
- Limit the number of credit inquiries
When you apply for a new loan or credit product, the lender will need to pull your credit report, and these inquiries may lower your credit score. If you are planning to get a new loan or open a new credit account, be careful about having your credit report pulled too many times. If shopping around for the best rates on a loan, try to submit your applications within a 14-to-30-day time period of each other. This ensures your credit score may not be impacted each time your credit history is pulled within that window, and if it is, a lending officer can see why this might have affected your score and may be more willing to work with you if needed.
WaFd Bank is Here to Help
Whether you're looking for ideas to help you better manage your money or applying for a credit card or loan, no question is too small for our friendly bankers. And, with WaFd Bank, you also have access to tools and services to help you manage your finances and get the most from your money. Visit us at your neighborhood branch, give us a call at 800-324-9375 , or check out our credit card* options to see what could work for you.
All loans subject to credit approval.
* 2% cash back can be earned for gas, grocery, and pharmacy purchases for Visa Signature® cardholders and 1% cash back earned for all qualified purchases for both Visa® and Visa Signature® cardholders. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply. Please refer to your Visa Guide to Benefits and Cardholder Agreement for details.