How To Improve Your Credit Score

Madeleine Jones
October 23, 2013

1.         Check Your Credit Report Annually.

Recent reports have found that nearly half of all Americans do not know their credit score.  The first step to improving your credit score is actually knowing your credit score.  Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from Trans Union, Equifax and Experian each year.  This report can be obtained from annualcreditreport.com.  There are also numerous other websites that will charge you a minimal fee to obtain your credit report.  It is important to check your credit report at least annually so you can ensure all information on your report is accurate and also to catch any potential fraud which may show up on your credit report.

2.         Make Payments On Time.

This is fairly obvious, but in the day-to-day grind of working, caring for children, maintaining relationships and whatever else it is you may have to do we are a busy society.  With that, it can be easy to misplace or forget about a bill.  When you forget to pay a bill on time, you usually find out on your next bill when you have a late fee and interest charges.  While these additional payments are annoying and inconvenient, the real detriment to missing payments is the harm it will due to your credit score.  A few 30 or 60 day late payments can drop you out of the top tier of credit resulting in higher interest rates or denial of credit.  Your payment history accounts for nearly 35% of your credit score and is thus important to maintaining or building a high credit score.

3.         Pay Off Debt.

Paying off debt takes discipline and many times lifestyle changes which are often difficult to make.  The total dollar amount of outstanding loans you have accounts for approximately 30% of your credit score.  Your total loan balances can be decreased by a disciplined approach to minimize large balances on credit cards and other high interest loans.  With many credit card rates at 14 – 20%, any payments over the minimum balance can greatly speed up the rate at which you pay off these cards.  For example if you have a credit card with a $10,000 balance and an annual percentage rate (APR) of 14% and you pay $233 a month, it will take you approximately 5 years to pay off the credit card.  The interest you will pay will exceed $3,961.  Now if you bump your payments to $333 a month, it cuts the amount of time to pay off the debt to approximately 3 years and drops the interest you will pay to $2,384.

If you have questions about your credit, contact Cogburn Law Offices at 702-384-3616 or visit our website at cogburnlaw.com. We can help.