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7 Simple Tips And 5 Secrets to Increase Your Credit Score

In last weeks article I suggested that your credit score can greatly affect your real estate investment property’s cash flow. Today as a follow-up, we’ll go over 7 simple tips and 5 secrets to help increase your credit score.

Credit Score Graph

7 Simple Tricks:

1. Always, always, pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections can have serious consequences on your credit score. Your payment history is a major factor as it represents 35% of your credit score.

2. Do not apply for credit too frequently. This will decrease your credit score because this is a characteristic of high credit risk groups.

3. Keep your credit-card balances low. If you’re “maxed” out on your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively. A good rule of thumb I’ve heard several times is to keep your credit card balances at or below 25% of your credit limits.

4. Fix any mistakes you have with the major credit bureaus right away because it can take time and have significant impacts. This entails getting in touch with the lender to verify that the information is accurate. If the lender can’t confirm or doesn’t respond, then the information is removed from your credit report. Also, if you have paperwork proving that the information on your account is false, send it to the credit bureaus and keep copies of everything.

5. Hang on to your old card because the credit bureaus reward loyalty. 15% of your credit score is based on the length of your credit history, and that includes the age of your oldest account as well as the average age of all your accounts. In other words, lenders want customers who will stay around and not move their accounts to whoever has the lowest current introductory offer.

6.Don’t bother to close accounts that have had missed payments or have had collections. Open or closed, they will be part of your past credit history for some time.

7. Being self employed is not good for your credit rating, fortunately you can plan ahead (as described in the 5 Secrets section). Many lending institutions, especially banks, won’t even look at you if you’re self-employed. If you plan on being self-employed consider a corporation because you can be “employed” by the corporation, however please note that even with a corporation it generally takes at least 2-3 years of consistent income before most lending institutions are ready to talk to you again.

5 Secrets:

1. For credit cards that are “maxed” out or have balances above the 25% rule of thumb, and you have no way of reducing the balance, fortunately there are other means to bring their ratios to more preferred levels. Remember that although the rule of thumb is to have no more than 25% of the maximum balance on credit, it doesn’t state just how much that 25% amount is in real dollars. Therefore another option is to increase your maximum balance. So for example, if you have a $1000 credit card and you owe $500 on it (a 50% ratio), then if you increase the balance to $2000, your ratio is now a preferred 25%! Just remember not to use the card anymore otherwise you will lose that preferred ratio.

2. Every time you do request a loan and the lender pulls your credit report, it generally reduces your score by a few points. It is part of the credit score formula to handle people trying to apply for credit and loans to live beyond their means. As another general rule, keep your loan processes within two-week periods so that all of the credit report lookups are bundled together to appear as one single request (such as trying to achieve the best rate for a mortgage).

3. Avoid using credit card introductory offers if you can. They might help you in the short run financially, or get you out of difficult debt, but as a long term solution they will most likely hurt you. Lenders want to acquire customers that are loyal because there is a cost associated for each loan. They would rather lend money to someone who is very likely to stay than someone who has a very unlikely to stay and move their money over at the next good looking introductory offer.

4. If you have little or no credit score, a quick way to bring up your credit score is to acquire debt. If you don’t pay off any debt, then how can you show that you’re a good borrower? Acquire some debt and pay it off. I’ve seen too many people looking to get their first mortgage denied simply because they’ve never acquired any previous debt before. They’ve paid everything in cash and they’re very proud, which they should be! However, you still need to establish a track record before someone will loan you bigger amounts, such as a mortgage. You need to prove your trustworthiness. Buy a car with a loan, get a credit card, get a personal loan, and basically establish some track record. At a bare minimum, borrow at least a few times before you go looking for larger loans.

5. For those of you looking to be self-employed, it’s crucial that you get all the loans you’ll need for at least 3 years now, probably even longer. Once you become self-employed it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for several years, therefore be prepared. Now I’m not saying use it, all I’m saying is that you get it. Increase the maximum on your credit card, get that line of credit, etc. Prepare for inflation, for future needs, etc. To use the cliché, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure.

Related Article: A Lesser Known Secret Tip to Increase Your Credit Score



 
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Comments:

  •     natasha parkin
    · August 23rd, 2006  · 5:59 am  · Permalink

    Hi,
    I have tried to apply for a credit card this week as i turned 18 last saturday but i cannot seem to get one. i have gone online and checked my credit rating and it states that i have a bad credit rating. How do i sort this so that i can get a credit card?

  •     Steph
    · August 24th, 2006  · 5:25 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Natasha,

    The first thing I would personally do is use one of the services such as Equifax to get a credit report on yourself (there are other services but this is the first one that came to my mind). Check to see if there’s anything on your credit report that might be indicative of why you have bad credit. Did you forget to pay something in full in the past? Was there a late payment? Is there an error on your credit report? Has someone used your identity?

    Assuming that your credit report is ok, then I would assume it’s because you have no credit history. That is to say, no one knows if you’re a good borrower or not because you have nothing on record. In that case you might have to start with a secured credit card. This is almost like a bank card but it’s through the Visa/Mastercard network. All transactions will be secured by the money in your bank account, so it’s not really a credit card but it really does help to quickly build up your credit. These are generally offered by your bank.

    You can also look for store credit cards. Most of these are more lenient and let you start small. Make sure to pay them and on time. These will help build your history as a good borrower. Yes they might have interest rates, but again, if you pay them off in full and you’re only trying to build your credit history, you shouldn’t have to worry.

    The idea is that at 18 you generally have no credit history, so you need to start building it. Start small and build up. Within 2 years you should be able to really boost your credit if you do it right! That’s about what it took me to go from no credit to being able to get almost any loan with no collateral.

  •     Jenny
    · August 25th, 2006  · 10:33 pm  · Permalink

    Hello,

    I am in debt for 9622.00 at this point i tried to setlle with the credit card companies but they do not want to. Should i consolidate eventhough people say it is not good?

  •     Steph
    · August 25th, 2006  · 10:47 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Jenny,

    I honestly can’t give you any real advice with the little amount of information you’ve provided here… Why don’t they want to let you settle? Do you have other debt? What is your yearly income? Now I DO NOT want you to answer these questions here on a public forum, but what you might need to do is take a step back and analyze your full financial situation. Determine where you are exactly and go from there. There could be a number of reasons why they don’t want to settle, and most often it’s because you’re capable of making the payments. Remember at the end of the day, they want to make money and too don’t want to lose money. So they probably believe that you can make those payments.

    As for consolidating, it depends on how you do it. If you migrate all your loans into one larger one with lower interest and lower payments, that can be a good thing. Just remember not to go further in debt because you reduced your payments, which is what a lot of people do!!!

    If you do use a service to consolidate your loans, then please be careful. Don’t get me wrong, some services are great, but a lot of them have shady practices! You need to read the fine print, it’s up to you to be careful. I therefore generally suggest that you take the helms and try to go to a local bank and see if they can’t help you first with a consolidation loan.

    Again, without any more information, it’s very hard for me to give you any really meaningful advice because I only have a very small snippet of the whole picture!

  •     Laura
    · October 18th, 2006  · 7:38 pm  · Permalink

    Hi, I’m 23 and I’m just starting to worry about my credit. In the past I have made some mistakes that have ruined my credit and now I’m trying to figure out how to fix them. I’ve made many late payments on some accounts and I was sent to collections once. I just finished paying off the bill that was sent to collections but it still looks like I have pretty poor credit. i know I have an unpaid hospital bill for around $300 and i’m working on paying that off. Would opening a credit card hurt me or help me in any way at this point? Someone told me that if I got a credit card just for rent, say, and paid it off every month on time it could increase my credit score, is this true? If not, is there anything else I can do to help fix it?

  •     Steph
    · October 18th, 2006  · 9:10 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Laura,

    As you’ve probably noticed from the pie chart above, your credit score is calculated from a number of factors, including your ability to get new credit and your ability to pay your credit. Having outstanding debt that is past due is your biggest issue, get rid of that ASAP. Nobody likes to deal with people who have deliquent debt. Would you?

    If you think about it after that, who would you want to lend your money to? Someone who has a history of paying their debt in full and on time right? This is what they were suggesting by you getting a credit card to pay for your rent and paying it off every month. It’s to establish a history of proper payment.

    Now there’s nothing that says you can’t do both at the same time, the only thing though is that you’ll probably find it hard to get an unsecured credit card if you have deliquent debt, at least one that doesn’t have astronomical interest rates. This is why most people, when they start their credit building, will use secured credit cards. It helps to build up this history without costing you an arm and a leg in interest payments.

    It’s all about building up your score. Focus on where it’s most important (the biggest pieces of the pie chart) and where you’re weakest, and build from there.

  •     joyce
    · November 2nd, 2006  · 5:21 am  · Permalink

    Hi,
    I am a teacher in the process of purchasing a home. I filed chp 13 3 yrs ago and am now waiting for a discharge any day now, it has been paid in full. I have begun to rebuild my credit, I have several department,gas and bank cards, and my credit scores are 571,563 and 563. I need to boost the scores up to 580 in 30 days or less to qualify with my lender. I plan to pay off my cards as most of them are maxed out. What other tips would suggest for boosting fico scores ASAP? Thks.

  •     Steph
    · November 3rd, 2006  · 1:35 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Joyce,

    Firstly congratulations for getting out of chapter 13, I’m sure that wasn’t easy!

    In regards to your question, other than paying off your credit cards I don’t think there’s much you can do over a very short term like 30 days.

    You have to remember that the credit scoring system is designed in such a way to try to prevent people from gaming it, especially in the short-term, which is why many aspects of it take time. For example, your payment history is a major part of the score, this is not something that happens overnight.

    You also have to look at it from the perspective of the person lending you money, they want guarantees that you’re stable and going to pay them back. If it was possible for you to greatly alter your credit score every month (at least positively), then it wouldn’t be useful to them, and they wouldn’t use it. They want a stable history of good payments. The keywords being “stable history”.

    And this is where sub-prime lenders come in. They’re willing to forget some past indiscretions in exchange for higher interest rates. This is how they balance the risk.

    In either case, other than what you suggested, I don’t know if it’s possible that you can positively alter your credit score that much within 30 days… If you can, I’d love to hear more about it!!!

  •     joyce
    · November 4th, 2006  · 10:19 am  · Permalink

    Hi,
    Thanks for responding to my previous inquiry. A couple of days ago,I obtained a copy of my scores from 3 of three bureaus; they were in the 597 range.
    Yet, when my lender obtained my scores about ten days ago, they were 577,563 and 563. He says there is a different scoring system when obtaining a home vs a car or credit card.
    How could the scores be so different? (about 25 pts) He uses Landsafe. Thank you for your help.

  •     joyce
    · November 4th, 2006  · 10:25 am  · Permalink

    Also, I purchased the RAISE YOUR CREDIT SCORE item advertised on this page and I was unable to download it despite installing the Adobe reader it required. I would like for you to email me this item, mail it by US mail , or offer a refund if you are affiliated with this product.
    Thanks.

  •     Steph
    · November 4th, 2006  · 2:23 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Joyce,

    Firstly, that’s great news that you were able to increase your credit score by so much in so short a time! Also, to let you know, different credit rating agencies have different scores. For example Equifax will have a different score than Landsafe. They’re usually in the same ballpark (within 25 points is not unreasonable). Also, each lender has their preference of which company they use, so although you may pass with one agency, if your lender doesn’t use them, unfortunately there’s nothing you can do.

    In regards to the products advertised on this site, unfortunately I’m not affiliated with them. They are ads provided from Google, and Google decides which ads to put on a specific webpage based on it’s content (and almost every time someone visits the site, the ads are different). I actually have no say as to which particular ads will be displayed, only that I wish to have Google provide me with ads. This advertising program is called Google Adsense. You can find more information about it here. You can also view their quick tour here.

  •     Victoria
    · January 11th, 2007  · 11:57 am  · Permalink

    Hi,

    Because of divorce, I filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It was discharged 6 months ago, how can I rebuild my credit? Also, do my rent payments to my landlord get reported? Thanks.

  •     Rich
    · January 11th, 2007  · 6:48 pm  · Permalink

    I filed for Chapter 7 almost 5 years ago, you will be able to slowly rebuild your credit score like I have. My score is now around 670.

    You need to wait until you get offers for credit cards in the mail. Those offers will be for low limit, higher rate and fee cards. I got my first revolving credit account through Household Finance after I filed…I believe about a year after.

    It will cost you more money to get money, but it will work out in the end. When you get the card use it a little…for gas here and there and make sure you pay it off every month. Never run balances on cards over 30% of the available limit.

    I don’t think rent helps, unless possibly you rent from some huge corporation that owns complexes like AMLI or something. It is interesting, renting didn’t help me, but I am willing to bet if I had not paid it would have hurt!

  •     Steph
    · January 11th, 2007  · 8:50 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Victoria,

    I think Rich worded it very well! It will take some time, and at first it will cost you more money to get money. That’s just part of the process, you have to re-establish yourself as a worthy lender. Just think about it if someone borrowed money from you and went bankrupt? Would you lend them money right back or would you want them to prove themselves first… The same is true with larger lenders.

    As for rents, they generally don’t help you unless you can pay it with a credit card, etc. A normal landlord will not report a payment has been made to the credit report bureau. However, if you do default on your rent, a landlord can eventually call a collection agency on you, and they will definitely report you. So it’s always in your best interest to always make sure you pay your balances due!

  •     Lauren
    · January 15th, 2007  · 11:09 am  · Permalink

    Hello,

    I made a few mistakes while in college and now I have horrible credit. My credit score is 600. However, it’s all paid off, I have no debt. No credit card company will approve me so I can’t build up my credit. How is it possible for my to improve my credit score?

  •     Steph
    · January 15th, 2007  · 9:16 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Lauren,

    The only way to start when no one wants to even give you a credit card is to get a “secured credit card”. This is basically the same as a bank card except that the transactions are processed through the visa/mastercard network, hence building up your credit.

    A “secured credit card” is a credit card which is generally linked directly to a bank account, and you can only use as much as is available within your bank account. So as I mentioned, it’s essentially a bank card through the visa/mastercard network.

    You’ll have to do this for a while, but you’ll find that you’ll eventually start to get credit card offers. Also, to speed up the process, you can generally get store credit cards before you can get credit cards from the major credit card companies (Visa, Mastercard, etc.).

  •     Mike
    · February 27th, 2007  · 4:37 pm  · Permalink

    Hi,

    I’m looking to improve my credit score to purchase a home/Condo. My credit is poor(583) I have three credit cards that have been paid off in the past couple of months should I have the accounts removed from my credit report? The problem is they are the oldest cards on my report. Can you remove a card from your report after you finish paying it off or wait for six years. Besides time how can I raise my score?

    Thanks,

  •     Steph
    · February 27th, 2007  · 11:25 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Mike,

    In regards to having the accounts “removed” from your credit report, unfortunately this is not something you can do. This is done by the credit bureaus. Otherwise as you can imagine, everyone would remove all their bad debt from their credit reports.

    Additionally, you generally don’t want to remove a credit card from your report if you can (assuming its in good standing). The more reliable you are the better. However, if the credit card has missed payments or defaults, then unfortunately there’s nothing you can do other than wait.

    As for improving your credit rating, the best you can do is as suggested in the list above. And as you suggested, time really does help.

    You really have to look at it from the lenders perspective. They only want to lend to reliable people who will pay them back, otherwise they’ll charge you more to borrow money (higher interest rates, etc. because a higher percentage of people will not pay). Would you lend your money to someone who has a history of consistently paying and on time or to someone who has a bad credit history? The same can be said for them.

    Hopefully it won’t take you too long to increase your credit rating. I can’t say for sure, but if you become a “good” borrower (pay in full and on time), then it might come a lot quicker than 6 years…

  •     Ty Hurd
    · March 21st, 2007  · 5:52 pm  · Permalink

    This is simply a GREAT resource for anyone looking for a loan, credit card, payday advance, credit report, and more. Great reference source…

  •     Sam Adams
    · April 25th, 2007  · 10:38 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph, thanks for the great resource. I’ve a question, what’s the highest credit score can one get?
    Thanks.

  •     Steph
    · April 29th, 2007  · 8:13 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Sam,

    Thanks!

    And for your question, I believe the highest score is 850. I’ve seen people talk about 900, but I don’t believe ever seeing that.

  •     Leo
    · June 18th, 2007  · 11:36 am  · Permalink

    Awesome article, thanks for putting it up! I have a question: after missing a couple of payments on two different cards (by no more than 30 days), I saw my score go from 760 to less than 600! Granted, I’m maxed on a couple of cards and can only afford the minimum.

    Besides making on-time payments, what else can I do to increase my score again? And can I realistically expect them to go back up within 6 months to a year?

  •     Steph
    · June 20th, 2007  · 9:15 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Leo,

    You’re welcome. In regards to your question, other than paying on time, probably the other biggest thing you can do in the short term based on your comments is reduce the balance on your loans/credit cards to below 25% (remember this can also be done by increasing the maximum amounts, just be careful not to spend this extra credit).

    As for how long it will take, I don’t know, it depends on how much you missed your payments by, what amount, etc. I would say a more realistic timeline is two years. It’s probably doable in one, but I would lean more towards at least two years.

  •     Ivan
    · July 13th, 2007  · 5:28 am  · Permalink

    Hi, I have a credit card with a limit of 300 dollars, Its my 1st credit card i’ve had, I almost have it maxed out at a 280 dollar balance. I know thats way over the 25% limit, but if I pay 3 times the minimum payment each month on time (which i can easily afford) would that do any good to my credit? or should i reduce the balance to 25% of my limit, and pay the minimum each month?

  •     Steph
    · July 14th, 2007  · 7:51 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ivan,

    I know it’s suggested that you keep a 25% balance, but I wouldn’t worry so much about your credit score if all you have is one credit card with a limit of $300 because it’s a small amount. At some point it the balances become less important than paying on time. In your case since the balance is so low, I would worry much more about paying on time than anything else.

  •     Ivan
    · July 15th, 2007  · 4:08 pm  · Permalink

    Great! Thanks so much for the info!

  •     Steph
    · July 18th, 2007  · 9:11 pm  · Permalink

    You’re welcome.

  •     Mike
    · July 20th, 2007  · 6:19 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph.

    Great resource! Thanks for the article.

    Here’s my situation… I was sent to collections back in 2001 for a small debt ($70) for a utilities bill I never paid. This actually came to my attention only several years later (2005) since nobody had contacted me about the collection. I decided not to initiate the contact myself and let it “expire”.

    The account now says “Closed” on my CR and the last update was in mid 2006. They actually noted KD (Key Derogatory) on that account for the last 3-4 reported months.

    My question is this… when does the counting begin for the 7 years that need to pass for a negative entry to expire? In my case, is it 7 years after the account was opened (2008) or after the account was closed (2013)?

    Also, since the account is closed, would paying that $70 help my credit scorte?

    Thank you for your help!

  •     Steph
    · July 22nd, 2007  · 3:10 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Mike,

    Firstly, paying your unpaid bill can’t hurt. That would be the very first thing I would do.

    The bad news is that because it wasn’t paid in the first place, paying it will not fully resolve your issue. It will still be considered late. However late is better than never paid!

    In terms of what really constitutes the last 7 years, that’s a very good question. And to be honest, I’m not entirely sure myself. But if I had to guess, I would say the last 7 years would be from the day the account was closed rather than opened. You have to remember that people who use this service are trying to see if you’re credit worthy, so it’s to their advantage to report the most possible recent information as possible.

  •     Trush
    · July 26th, 2007  · 6:18 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,
    I came across this website its a good source of information on credit scores etc. I have a question for you i am having one credit card of 500$ which is my first card(since 1&half years 12.30% APR)& i am having other card of 6000$(1 month & 11.50% APR) which is my most recent card,1 store card of $500 since my credit is improving i started getting offers now with lower rates do you think i can go with one more credit card which is tempting me as it is more cash back rewards..and lower APR(8.9%). I have never missed any kindaa payments in my credit history of 1 and half years…and i do have one car loan as well of debt 1900$. Can i go ahead with the new credit card which is giving me good offer..Thanks for your help in advance….

  •     Steph
    · July 28th, 2007  · 2:30 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Trush,

    This is a very personal choice and it depends on what you want to accomplish. One thing you might want to consider is calling your current credit card company and asking for a rebate. That often produces interesting results.

    As well, be careful of “introductory rates” which can drastically change within a few months. Or hidden fees. As long as you research the credit cards, know what you’re doing, and just make sure you’re not using your credit cards as a way of spending money you don’t have.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t be overly concerned either way for your credit score in comparison to what the credit card companies offer you (again assuming you’re not using your credit cards to spend beyond your means).

  •     Ivan
    · August 1st, 2007  · 4:02 pm  · Permalink

    Hi. I have a credit card, I would like to know if paying your credit card bill weeks ahead of time is a good or bad idea? Or if there is a best time to pay your credit card bill before its due date? Does it matter at all?

    Thanks

  •     Stephane Grenier
    · August 2nd, 2007  · 7:17 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ivan,

    Paying your credit cards ahead of time is never a bad idea. The question is, as you said, is there any advantage to you to paying ahead? Other than reducing your chances of accidentaly making a late payment, my understanding is that credit cards companies just want to make sure you pay on time.

    If you actually look at your credit report, it doesn’t really show if you’re payments are early, it only shows if they’re late and by how much. I also can’t really see any credit card company notifying credit rating companies of early payments. What’s in it for them…

  •     Ivan
    · August 3rd, 2007  · 2:06 am  · Permalink

    Great! You’re absolutely right! Thanks so much!

  •     Steph
    · August 4th, 2007  · 4:58 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ivan,

    It’s great to hear it helped you. And best of luck with the future!

  •     Ann
    · August 6th, 2007  · 4:58 pm  · Permalink

    Hi

    I appreciate the information you provide. I was wondering.. I have deferred college loans. Some of them report as transfers and others as deferment. Do loan holders look down upon deferred payments or transfers?

  •     Steph
    · August 8th, 2007  · 8:38 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ann,

    You’re welcome. And in regards to your question, I honestly don’t know how deferred student loans will affect your credit rating…

    If you find out, please let me know (as well as the source of where and how you found out). Although I’ve already paid all my student loans off, I’d be interested to know nonetheless.

  •     Eric B
    · August 13th, 2007  · 3:37 pm  · Permalink

    I was about to get an apartment with my girl friend but it seems her college who she worked out a payment plan with and is making payments toward keeps putting her key derogatory regardless. Is that legal? It certainly is not ethical. She has worked hard to get all of her credit card debts squared away and is making payments but her score is dropping lower and lower.

    Can we dispute this and win?

  •     Steph
    · August 13th, 2007  · 8:51 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Eric,

    To be honest, without knowing the details of your case I can’t tell you yes or no. You probably want to contact them again and figure out why they are doing this? Perhaps there’s something else going on? Maybe something was missed somewhere in the paperwork. The bigger the entity the more it’s about filing the correct paperwork (dotting all your i’s and crossing all your t’s). It’s possible that a piece of paperwork within their own process was done incorrectly…

    If contacting them doesn’t solve it, you might want to contact a local professional (such as a lawyer, etc.) to see what they can do to help you out. At the very least they could tell you the full extend of your options are for your local area.

  •     Karen Bozeman
    · August 30th, 2007  · 10:20 am  · Permalink

    I have pulled my credit report and would like to clear up some outstanding medical bills, but on the report it doesn’t say who they are, just that they are medical. How can I get this information?

  •     Steph
    · September 3rd, 2007  · 2:08 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Karen,

    The first thing you can do is contact the company who gave you your credit report and get a more detailed secondary report. Most of these companies will offer more information, but it will cost you more than the basic credit reports.

  •     Jeannette
    · September 6th, 2007  · 10:18 am  · Permalink

    Recently we applied for a mortgage loan, due to sub-prime mortgage mess, we had approval and then overnight the bank went belly-up. Our credit score was 574. We then tried looking for other banks to get approved but every-time our credit was pulled it was decreased by 5point within 2wks time credit went from 574 to 554! We told the banks we have a credit report indicating 574 in 1st wk of July and that we thought that all credit report will be considered as one when your trying to get a mortgage, not so…
    So the next step is to payoff all the debt we have in credit report.. We have applied for automatic payment to be deducted from our bank account to all our credit cards. During 2003, my fiance consolidated all his debt and close all his credit card account. Which I believed hurt him than actually help him.
    We are planning to take one month and pay off all the bad/charge off debt.My question is, how long after paying the debt, will our credit increase? Will increase our credit score monthly an if so how much? We are hoping that by end of 2008, we at least can have a credit score of 650 to qualify for mortgage.
    Thank you

  •     Steph
    · September 9th, 2007  · 11:09 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Jeanette,

    Yes it’s unfortunate, but every time you someone does a credit check for a mortgage (or almost any other loan) it will cost you about 5 points. This is to avoid people fraudulently using their credit to quickly make a lot of loans which they can’t possibly pay back. The good news on that side is that those little 5 points quickly bounce back.

    As for how fast will payments affect your score, that’s hard to say. You have to remember that most of these formulas are kept very secretive to avoid fraud. That being said, if you pay off all your credit card debt it can’t but help. However if you have payments that were in behind, it may take longer. Without having a full financial picture, it’s hard to tell…

    Just look at it as though you were the lender. You’d want to make sure the person you lend money to is going to pay you back. If they have recent reports of missed payments, especially if it’s a lot of missed payments, and so on, odds are you wouldn’t be first in line to lend them money. The same is true for banks. But if they’ve payed off all their loans and look like they’re back on track, odds go up (as does your credit rating).

    At the end of the day it’s good to think of it from the other person’s lenders perspective. The more appealing you make yourself as a borrower, the higher your credit rating and the more likely you are to get loans and mortgages.

  •     Rob
    · September 15th, 2007  · 2:33 am  · Permalink

    First, very informative information, thank you! Now my question: I am going to refinance my house in almost exactly a year. My wife and I have okay credit (660-690) but would like to raise it to at least 720 before we refinance for obvious reasons. We intend on paying our credit card balances down to almost zero. We are thinking of opening a credit card with Home Depot for some discount and rebate purposes; if we do that do you think that our score will decrease or increase 12 months from now? We plan to pay our bill on time and keep the balance as low as possible. What are your thoughts about this? Let me know if I’m not being clear enough. Thank you in advance for your advice.

  •     Steph
    · September 17th, 2007  · 10:10 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Rob,

    You’re welcome. It’s good to hear you’ve found it informative.

    In regards to your question, I can’t honestly accurately predict because it depends on the specifics of your full credit report and history. There’s just not enough information. In addition to this, anyone who says they can predict to that degree of accuracy with just this information is probably not being fully truthful to you.

    For example there can be as much as a 25-50 point discrepancy between different credit rating agencies. In addition to this, it depends on your full history. The algorithm is too complex to determine to within as little as 30 points of accuracy. Especially without the full details which I would never ask you to share here on a public forum.

    Nonetheless, if you continue on your current path, keeping all your balances under 25% of their max, avoiding getting too much credit (for example there is also a total cap as a percentage of your income you can borrow), etc., then you should do well.

    Although I can’t say for sure that it will or won’t hit 720 or higher, what I can say is that you’re heading in the right direction.

  •     Zsazsa Gardea
    · September 25th, 2007  · 4:55 pm  · Permalink

    Hi, My credit score was pretty bad last feburary, but I paid everything off onvce I saw how much debt I owed still. It was old medical bills and such. I’ve paid everything off that was on my credit report right away. Now since its been a whie, Im wondering how my score is.Do I now need to send in the recipts that I recieved that shows I paid off the individual accounts? Or will that automatically be reported to the credit bureaus?

  •     Steph
    · September 29th, 2007  · 1:56 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Zsazsa,

    You don’t need to send in anything. Everything is automatically done for you by the credit bureaus. If you had to send in items to them, I doubt anyone would send in anything negative ;)

    If you want to know how you’re doing, the easiest and quickest way is to get a credit report from one of the major credit bureaus. That will give you a good idea (they vary slightly, but they’re all in the same ballpark).

  •     Rich
    · October 10th, 2007  · 2:05 pm  · Permalink

    Great answers, and very kind approach. Those of us with credit problems are used to the opposite, and I say thank you! My score is horrible, about 583. Post divorce, I just didn’t do very well about paying bills for a bit. I have done much better in the last year or so, and my report shows steady payments on all my accounts with two exceptions. These exceptions are from a bank that I (and my ex) had two credit cards with. They became my responsibility in the divorce. After they became very delinquent (all my fault) I did reach a settlement with a collection company, and paid a lump sum. It was supposed to be for both cards. Later, the bank sued me on one. I got a lawyer and denied their claims. They finally abandoned the suit, but now they still try and collect, and still show their version of the accounts on my reports. My income has greatly increased, and I have much optimism about my ability to pay off my debts soon. But, this is going to be a big hurdle for me, if I try and buy a home, etc. Any thoughts at all would be appreciated. Thanks again!

  •     Steph
    · October 12th, 2007  · 9:13 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Rich,

    Unfortunately in your case you’re stuck between a hard place and a rock. On the one hand you can try to clear up this amount which will take time and affect you financially. Maybe it will prevent you from buying a house. Maybe it will increase your interest rates on all your new loans, including your mortgage. This is unfortunate but it is costing you more than just the amount (the extra interest you have to pay).

    As an alternative, you can decide to pay the amount, or reach a settlement again. I know this isn’t fair, but it might be worth it. Without knowing the details and the amounts, I can’t tell for sure. You’ll have to personally do the calculations of how much it’s worth to get rid of that from your financial records. Depending on what you come out with, you may be ahead just paying it, even if it’s unfair…

    There may be alternative options, but without more details these are the only options I can come up with. Yes I agree it’s not fair, especially if you agreed to a settlement, but it might be worth just paying it if it costs you more. Only you know for sure.

  •     Karen
    · November 7th, 2007  · 5:10 pm  · Permalink

    Is it better to pay the collection agency for a bill or the oringinal creditor? My husband has a bill listed on his credit report once form the original creditor and twice from a collection agency which is a duplicate. I also had a bill that was paid two years ago and I called the collection agency and asked why they keep reporting it when its been paid. I was told they will continue to report it for another two years. I understand that what originally goes in the credit bureau will stay there for seven years even after it is paid, but how is it that a collection agency is allowed to continue to report a bill that has been paid.

  •     Steph
    · November 9th, 2007  · 6:15 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Karen,

    If your bill has been moved to a collection agency, then you should generally be dealing with them.

    A collection agency basically buys bad debt from companies for pennies on the dollars in the hopes of collecting more than they paid.

    It’s a win-win scenario because the company gets some money, which is more than none. And the collection agencies are generally able to collect more than what they paid for rights to the debt.

    That being said, I’m not sure what you mean by reporting. If you didn’t pay the bill on time, it will show up on your credit report as late. You can’t just erase that by paying it later. If that we true, then you could just postpone paying all your bills until the end of the year, pay them all at once, and your credit rating wouldn’t be affected after the payment date. That’s not good for anyone. So even though you paid the amount, if you paid it late, it will stay on your credit report as a late payment.

    It’s possible that I’m not fully understanding what you mean by reporting a bill that hasn’t been paid. If there is a record on your statement of an unpaid bill and you have paid it, then you should be able to change it to a paid in arrears status…

  •     Karen
    · November 15th, 2007  · 4:24 pm  · Permalink

    I have several accts listed that are over 7 yrs old that have been paid in full with postive payment record with no late payments. If I request these to be removed will this increase my credit scores or make no difference?

  •     Steph
    · November 18th, 2007  · 6:47 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Karen,

    I don’t quite understand… Why would you want to remove a history of accounts that are positive? People who lend you money want to see a positive history of on time payments.

    The only time you should ever want to erase your history is if it’s negative. A positive history is good.

    Without knowing all the details I can only guess, but I would assume that removing positive elements in your history may actually reduce your credit score! The more positive items you have in your history the better.

  •     Ashley
    · November 26th, 2007  · 12:30 am  · Permalink

    Hello! Great advice here. I’m still fairly young and have a few questions on my credit. My credit score was a 645 last year but because of medical bills I didn’t pay and I’m over the 25% on my credit cards it’s now a 583. I just got a new job and am looking to purchase a condo. How bad is a 583 credit score in the eyes of a lender? Is there a chance I won’t get pre-qualified or able to get a mortgage at all? I’ve never missed a payment on either of my cards, do they take that into account, or just the score? Thanks so much for any help!

  •     Steph
    · November 28th, 2007  · 1:03 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ashley,

    Thank you!

    In regards to your question, that’s something I can’t answer. Right now as the mortgage market is tightening, the qualifications are also changing. The best advice I can give you is to apply for pre-approval.

    Also you have to realize it’s not just a matter of getting a mortgage or not, it’s at what interest rate. With a score under 600, I suspect that if you are able to get a mortgage, it will be at a much higher interest rate. The interest rate is what might make it unfordable. You have to balance this.

    As for never missing a payment on your credit card, yes everything is taken into account. However what usually stands out are missing payments. One missed payment is worse than a years worth of on-time payments. Think of it from the other side. When you’re working, you expect your employer to pay you on time. You too have obligations based on that revenue. People who loan you money are in the same boat. They too have obligations due that need to be paid with the money you owe them.

    That being said, the best advice I can offer you is to try. However with a score under 600 it will be very difficult. And if you get a mortgage I fear the interest rate may be very high and unappealing…

  •     Erin
    · December 29th, 2007  · 1:55 pm  · Permalink

    Steph,
    I have been looking all over the place for advice on something. I have a $3500.00 collection account on my credit. It was for an apartment I lived in 5 years ago with a roomate. She was on the lease and i was only an occupant. I never signed the lease. I have a copy of it. I have worked with the collection agency and they said that they won’t remove it but they will mark it as a disputed item and if i want it removed i will have to go to court. I don’t understand why I would have to take them to court if i never signed the lease. I contacted one credit bureo and disputed the item but they didn’t seem very helpful and told me not to send them the copies of the lease that i have. please help I am trying to purchase my first home and this is the only negitive item on my report.

  •     Steph
    · December 29th, 2007  · 8:56 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Erin,

    To be honest without the detailed specifics (not just the lease agreement but the local area laws) there’s no way for me to know why the collection agency is contacting you. By what you’ve said it doesn’t make sense, but they must have some legal reason or other… Doesn’t mean it’s right.

    I have a feeling that you will have to seek legal advice. It may or may not go to court, but a lawyer will be able to figure out exactly what’s happening and give you several options to deal with this.

    I’m truly sorry to hear about your situation and I hope you can get it rectified sooner than later.

  •     james
    · February 2nd, 2008  · 12:32 am  · Permalink

    I am trying to rebuild my credit, and for starters I wanted to know, what would be better, using one line of credit (i.e. credit card only) or multiple lines of credit such as loans ,a few credit cards etc…money isn’t a worry for me at this point, i wouldn’t mind paying some heavy interest if it brings my score up..

    thing is I have been named in a will, and will be receiving 5 figures of cash from the estate, but I can’t even get a credit card?!?@? must I take the money out of the estate and stick it in my bank, or is there something i can do to show them the money, so it can help my credit. Otherwise Im about to invest it with a company that will manage the money for me…

  •     Steph
    · February 4th, 2008  · 9:46 pm  · Permalink

    Hi James,

    Like anything, what lenders are looking for is a history of good debt repayment. This doesn’t mean you need to pay a high interest to get a good credit score. It means you need to establish a history, and this takes time.

    Because you can’t get a straight credit card, you may need to look at a secured credit card. It’s the same as a credit card, but it’s backed by the money in your bank account. In essence, it’s almost like you prepay your credit versus the other way around. It’s more like and ATM card than a credit card, but it works really well.

    It’s not ideal, and it takes time. But you need to establish a history. These things just take time. You can only expedite them so much…

  •     FollowSteph.com - A Lesser Known Secret Tip to Increase Your Credit Score
    · February 18th, 2008  · 11:49 am  · Permalink

    [...] Related Article: 7 Simple Tips And 5 Secrets to Increase Your Credit Score [...]

  •     Benjamin
    · March 12th, 2008  · 10:44 pm  · Permalink

    I have decided to purchase a home with some money i have saved up through the years and have a credit score of 735. However, i have a maxed out credit card. I called the bank and had them increase the credit limit, which they did for a substantial amount, but now i am being told that that wasnt a smart thing to do. My gross monthly income is $2800, and my credit card now has a credit limit of $12K. before it was maxed out at $4k. The mortgage broker is going to start processing the loan within the month and the closing date is set for June 1st. Did i just do myself under by having that limit increased?

  •     Steph
    · March 13th, 2008  · 12:04 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Benjamin,

    I don’t think you did yourself under. In actuality it’s better to have a lower balance as a percentage of the limit on a credit card, well below the max which yours is. And with your credit score of 735, I can’t imagine you not getting a mortgage… If anything I believe you’ve helped yourself.

  •     Shawn
    · March 17th, 2008  · 12:32 am  · Permalink

    After recovering from a divorce a year ago, I have made a conscious effort to work on my credit score. I have a credit score currently of 612. I also currently have two credit card accounts (both I’ve had for a year). I have just paid off both in full. Beyond that, my only debt is a car loan which I am paying on time as agreed. I’m figuring since it has not been more than 30 days, that I have yet to see the positive effect of my full payments. As for my past, I have already cleaned off most of the bad stuff from my past history. I still have one charge off for a car loan, and two credit cards that were paid off and closed, and the rest will take another 2 years to fall off reporting. I do realize that all the negative history has had the same effect on my score. My score has been hovering back and fourth between 598 and 612 for the past 6 months. One thing I wasn’t aware that would’ve actually helped me is to keep my balances down to 25% of the cards limit (I was always at around 75%, but always paid as agreed). I would probably have a higher score today had I kept my balances low. I started from a 547 and went up to 623 last year, now I’m at 612. My goal is to get my score up to 670 or higher in about 45 days. Given all the information I have provided, how can I do this?

  •     Steph
    · March 17th, 2008  · 4:14 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Shawn,

    First, congratulations on increasing your credit score! It’s always a great thing to see.

    As for increasing your credit score by that amount in 45 days, I don’t know that it’s possible… A lot of your score is determined from your history, which takes time.

    As well, you have to remember that credit scoring agency’s are trying to prevent people from gaming the system, otherwise you can imagine the chaos. The credit meltdown we’re experiencing today would be much worse!

    But getting back to your case, I think that trying to increase your credit score by 60 points over 45 days is a very aggressive goal, especially since you’ve been playing catchup. I don’t know if that’s even possible. I suspect your history is having the biggest impact on your score, which means that you have to continue what you’re doing and wait.

    Remember that people who loan you money want a positive history. Think about it from your perspective. Imagine that someone who’s been borrowing from you doesn’t have the best track record, but over the last year they’ve been cleaning up. Is that enough for you to lend them money or do you want to wait a little more to see if they’ll continue paying on time? You probably want to hold off a bit to make sure it’s not just a short-term effort to get more money from you before they lapse. That’s all their doing. And this is why it’s harder to increase your score very quickly over the short term beyond what you’ve done.

  •     sara
    · April 5th, 2008  · 4:53 pm  · Permalink

    Hi,

    Does asking for a credit line increase affect your credit in a negative way? Thanks

  •     Steph
    · April 6th, 2008  · 11:53 am  · Permalink

    Hi Sara,

    Asking for a line of credit will generally decrease your credit score by a few points as the financial institution is going to perform a credit check against you. A few points is nothing to worry about, unless you ask a dozen institutions, in which a few points becomes close to 30-40 points.

    A few points are removed for each credit check to prevent someone from trying to manipulate the system by trying to get a large number of loans at once.

  •     Victoria
    · April 8th, 2008  · 10:45 am  · Permalink

    Steph,

    I need some advice…should I pay off my student loans and continue renting for another year or take that money and put it towards a down payment on a house and continue to make monthly payments on my student loans? I am in the process of being pre-qualified for a house…My credit score is around 660 and am getting a decent rate. I’d appreciate your input. Thanks.

  •     Steph
    · April 10th, 2008  · 1:42 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Victoria,

    I’d love to offer some advice, but without the full details I’m afraid that in your case it wouldn’t be valuable. It really depends on your situation, especially your cashflow, how much of a down you can make, and where you think the real estate market is going…

    For example, if you use it for a down payment on a house and continue to make payments on your loan, that means your cash flow needs to cover two payments rather than one. This is a financially weaker position to be in, unless you have a really strong cash flow.

    As well, if you think the market is dropping, then it might be to your advantage to wait. As well, depending on the size of your down payment, you could potentially put yourself in a negative equity position on your mortgage.

    This is why I’m afraid I can’t give you any real concrete advice without the details. Not that I’m asking, yours is a particularly more detailed decision that needs to be made.

  •     Christy
    · April 15th, 2008  · 12:14 pm  · Permalink

    I read this part about the Lesser Known Secret Tip.

    “…. It basically goes that for a creditor to list you as delinquent on your credit report they must be able to provide you with the original paperwork….If it’s lost, then by stipulation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act your defaulted obligation cannot be listed on your credit report.”

    How do I do this? Would it be a dispute with the credit bureau or with the collection agency? Who would I file the dispute with? Thank you, in advance for your help.

  •     Steph
    · April 15th, 2008  · 9:24 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Christy,

    This tip from my other post is one that I was made aware of by the Business Week article I linked to. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it’s one that I’ve never had the opportunity to use and therefore can’t really help you in those details…

    If you do find out, would you mind letting me know. It would be great to be able to post a follow-up article with the details of how to do this for everyone else. Especially from someone who’s had first hand experience! Please don’t be shy to contact me afterwards.

  •     Juan
    · June 2nd, 2008  · 7:37 pm  · Permalink

    Hi there
    I have a debit card from my bank, and am always used to pay everything for the las 4 years ,never cash, but in the cashier always asked if it is DEBIT or CREDIT ,and am alwasy respond CREDIT,that help to my credit score?same people saying “The card is not really help”
    thansk.

  •     Stephane Grenier
    · June 4th, 2008  · 1:46 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Juan,

    I’m sorry Juan, but are you using your debit or credit card? Using a debit card doesn’t really help, it’s a straight out transaction.

    Using a credit card on the other hand does help. It shows that you can manage credit. Of course you always have to be careful not to overuse it and get yourself caught up in debt.

  •     Shawn
    · June 4th, 2008  · 1:56 pm  · Permalink

    Here’s the first surprise: “Debit or credit?” is actually an unfair, misleading question. There is no such thing as a debit card that’s used as a credit card. When you hand over a debit card, you are engaging in a debit transaction no matter how you answer. When clerks ask this question, they are really asking you to pick one of two ways they can process your debit – a PIN (personal identification number) based transaction or as a signature-based transaction. One costs the merchant a little more and one takes a little longer to hit your checking account, but fundamentally a debit transaction is a debit transaction.

  •     Steph
    · June 4th, 2008  · 10:05 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Shawn,

    You hit the question dead on! There are secured credit cards but that’s not the same as a debit card. Using a debit card does not help your credit rating, which many people confuse. You have to be careful for that.

  •     Juan
    · June 4th, 2008  · 10:24 pm  · Permalink

    Thanks so much for the information!!!

  •     Shawn
    · June 5th, 2008  · 10:23 am  · Permalink

    Thanks but i don’t want to take full credit for the answer. I attempted to copy and paste the URL where I got the information, but it seems like this forum understandably does not allow for posting links. So I just pasted the paragraph from that page. I too was very interested in that answer. Glad to be of assistance.

    And since I’m speaking, I would like to share my own success story and some information on my steadily improving credit scores. I started from 545 on the Equifax last year in 2007 around this time. Since then I have established 3 new credit lines with the sole purpose of improving my credit score.

    I paid off or settled at least $2,500 in debt, leaving only a car note which I’m paying on time monthly. I have not been late on anything. I only use 4% to 10% of my credit limits on any of the three cards I currently have which I’ll mention later. I also got a lot of bad stuff off of my credit by simply challenging it. And the bad stuff that is left (one line item) – I just got a call from that company yesterday, in response to a Goodwill letter I had recently sent. That balance had been zero for some time now and so it is likely they will remove the late pay from reports.

    At this moment my credit scores are EQ:645 TU:685 ES:676. I just got my third card from WAMU with a credit limit of $2,000. I only wanted this card to boost my credit score since my other cards had low limits of $300(BOA once secured, now new credit line extended) and $500(HSBC oops they just increased to $650), which all those creditors had initially refused to raise. With my balances being low and sometimes being completely paid off monthly on these cards with modest limits, this has continued to have a good effect on my history obviously. Even still with today’s gas prices and the economy, I’m finding myself pulling out a card more often than I would like. But I refuse to go deep into debt, as my balances never go over $100 on each of these cards.

    EQ:645 TU:685 ES:676 does not reflect the possible effects of my good will letter, and does not affect the new credit utilization versus credit limit ratio. Remember I went from a total credit card limit of $800 to $2950 and I now only owe a total $168.00 on all three cards. I say all this to say that once everything is reflected in my three reports, I’m hoping to reach in the 700′s on all my reports. That has been my entire goal for the past 13 months. This is strictly to position myself for a home purchase at the best interest rate I could get. Considering the market and my new 700 plus scores, I’m expecting to have some serious negotiating room for a home loan. Once I achieve my desired credit scores, I’m going to rip up at least two of my cards and use the lowest interest rate. All accounts will remain open

    I came from a divorce two years ago where I had hit rock bottom along with my scores, with debt collectors calling me daily. But today I speak to you hopefully from a inspirational position. By the end of this year I’ll be re-married and in a new home. I would definitely encourage you all to use some if not all the practices I did for overcoming debt. Pay down your credit card debt, Keep low balances, dispute what you can within reason certain line items on your report, try a good will letter if the balance is zero, pay on time every time, use a service that allows you to track any changes in your credit scores, use the credit cards to build good credit history, not live off of – and when you’re finished leave those accounts open with zero balances. Credit card companies are using you and your debt, so it’s only fitting that you use them. And check out two documentaries also with the following names: “Maxed Out” and “In Debt We Trust”.

    I’ll be back here to post the new scores and share info again. Take care and God Bless!

  •     Steph
    · June 8th, 2008  · 2:53 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Shawn,

    In regard to your comment “But today I speak to you hopefully from a inspirational position.”, that’s an understatement if I ever saw one!!! It’s not hopefully, you ‘re story IS, and I do repeat with capitals, IS inspirational!

    You’ve definitely proven what’s possible. How to go from virtually no credit to good credit in a small amount of time! I can only wish you the best of luck. And thank you for sharing your story. It’s very inspirational!

    And for those of you who don’t understand why Shawn is pushing so hard to increase his credit score, I’ve written a couple of related articles about this in the past:

    How Your Fico Score Can Greatly Affect Your Cash flow
    How interest rates can drastically affect real estate prices

    Shawn is doing this for very good reasons! He’s positioning himself to be in a very strong financial position. Increasing his FICO score as he’s doing is going to decrease his monthly payments by hundreds of dollars each month! As much as $500+/month. And it will allow him to lock it in at a lower interest rate for a very long time.

    Again Shawn, thank you for sharing your very inspirational story.

  •     Ben
    · June 9th, 2008  · 1:27 am  · Permalink

    I am trying to apply to an apartment and have already been denied to one because of my credit. Is there a way around this other than finding an apartment who doesn’t check credit? Thank you for your help!

  •     Ben
    · June 9th, 2008  · 1:29 am  · Permalink

    I know it may sound funny, but I am about $7 dollar over the limit on my credit card ($700 limit). If I pay that off, say $100 on my next payment and start to pay my credit card on time, will help my credit score right away??? Or does it take time?

  •     Steph
    · June 12th, 2008  · 9:26 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Ben,

    In regards to getting around a credit check, that all depends on your landlords. Some people perform credit checks, others don’t. As an alternative, some landlords will allow tenants to move in if they pre-pay their rents (although this is much rarer because it can still take a long time to evict a bad tenant). Others might even be willing to increase the rent to cover the additional risks. In other words you might need to be willing to negotiate your rent in a creative way.

    As for improving your credit, these things take time. Otherwise many people would be gaming the system. For example, many lending checks will assume that your credit card is maxed out, because you could potentially max out your credit cards 5 minutes after you leave the building.

    Or what if I went to the bank a week before I wanted to get a mortgage, payed off all my credit cards (maybe with the help of friends), etc., and then got the mortgage. The week after I got my mortgage I could just re-max out my credit cards to pay back my friends. In this case the company/bank lending you the mortgage money is at a much higher risk.

    Therefore the credit report bureaus intentionally delay the effects of payments. It’s for these very reasons. People want a history of on-time payments.

    Another way to think about it, what if someone was borrowing the money from you? You’d probably want a consistent history of on-time payments. You’d probably want to wait and see if they can pay the next payment before borrowing to them. Sometimes it really helps to think about from the lender’s perspective…

    I understand it doesn’t make it easier for you, which is unfortunate, but that’s the way the system works.

  •     Sammy
    · June 21st, 2008  · 11:05 am  · Permalink

    I am a college student, only 20 years old. My current credit score is in the 670s. I have a couple of student loans, 1 car loan, and a credit card ($3,000) with my husband. We have never paid anything late and have always paid more than the minimum payments. We expect to be buying a house in approximately 2 years. I know I have only been able to establish credit for a short while, but if I keep this up, would it be reasonable to think I could be in the upper 700s in 2 years from now?

  •     Nikki
    · June 25th, 2008  · 5:58 pm  · Permalink

    Hi,

    Due to circumstances revolving around an ex husband, we filed bankruptcy before our divorce 3 years ago. Since then, I paid off my car, obtained a credit card which I use 4-5 times per month and pay off in full before each statement date and have saved a significant amount which I put into short term CD’s whenever I find a good interest rate. My credit score for one reporting agency (the other 2 tend to be lower) is now 733. I’m continually trying to improve my credit score as my boyfriend and I will soon be obtaining a loan to build a house and was considering applying for a gas rebate credit card. Will that hurt or help my credit? And are there other things you could suggest for me to further improve my score?

    Thank you so much for your help,

    Nikki

  •     Steph
    · June 25th, 2008  · 8:59 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Sammy,

    It’s impossible to accurately predict the future, but I have to say I would be amazed if you’re credit score wasn’t in the 700′s within 2 years assuming the same behavior.

    That being said, climbing up the credit score scale gets exponentially harder!!! Going from 500 to 600 is not extremely difficult, but going from 700 to 750 is much much harder.

    After a certain point, especially in your case, you’re history becomes important because you have very little history. I suspect that adding two years will make a bigger difference then for most people.

    As for getting in the high 700′s, its definitely possible. I know it’s not exactly the answer you were looking for, but the best I can say is that it’s possible. Just getting to the 700′s will give you a big advantage when it comes to getting a mortgage!

  •     Steph
    · June 25th, 2008  · 9:03 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Nikki,

    Without knowing the details of the gas card, I can’t say with any certainty, but I suspect that it shouldn’t. That’s of course assuming you use it wisely and consistently pay it off in full.

    As for improving your score, you’re doing everything right. Keep up the good work. Getting a score in the 700′s within 3 years of a bankruptcy is very commendable, so my hats off to you! I believe that now it’s mainly continuing to show your good intentions and building yourself a reputable history paying on time.

  •     Barb
    · July 10th, 2008  · 2:26 pm  · Permalink

    I have gotten a lot of revolving credit to pay this credit card off with another one. The cards that I haven’t used in years still show up on my report. Would it look bad if I go through and cancel all but the few I do use?
    Thanks!

  •     Steph
    · July 13th, 2008  · 4:18 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Barb,

    I can’t really answer that one without knowing much more details on your history and your financial goals.

    However that being said, remember that most lenders just want to see a consistent and on-time payment history. The better your credit history reflects this, the better your credit score will be.

    As well, most companies will assume that any credit cards you have can be maxed out tomorow, so if you apply for a loan they will assume they’re maxed out right now, even if there’s no current balance. This is to protect them.

    So in essence, these are somewhat conflicting goals. One is to show a good credit history by having the ability to manage debt, the other is to have no debt. Which is why it’s hard to answer your specific question without much more detailed information about your goals and past.

    Therefore the best advice I can give you is decide where you want to go, and work your way there.

  •     Michele
    · July 18th, 2008  · 3:33 pm  · Permalink

    Hello, I’m in a bit of dilemma here, I have an experian credit score of 589, a Equifax credit score of 558, and a transunion score of 528. Terrible credit I know. I made the mistake 3 years ago of obtaining 11 credit cards, 7 of which where store credit cards, and 4 were mastercards/visa’s. I know I know I went credit card happy, I’ve heard it everywhere I know I made a huge mistake I was 18 and I was excited to get all these credit approvals and go out and spend money I didn’t have. I paid 9 of those credit cards off and closed the accounts, all I have left is just 2, 7 of which were store cards, and 2 where visa’s. One credit card I have left is from 11/06 and it’s a $1000 limit, I got it down to $400. The next one is a $750 limit, I only got that down to $600, I know way over the %25 limit. I am working on paying them off, but staying within the %25 mark. I know the 9 accounts that I closed hurts my credit, but I didn’t want to have 9 revolving open accounts, it will hurt me either way. By the way, I made all 11 credit cards on time, possibly 5-6 times I was late, I know that also hurts it but by how much?
    Just wondering when the approximate time my credit score will go up if I get the two credit cards under a %25 mark? Even though I have closed 9 accounts on record which hurts my score now?

  •     Steph
    · July 19th, 2008  · 4:47 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Michele,

    There’s nothing I’d love more than to be able to tell you when, but unfortunately I can’t. There’s just not enough information in your comment… And your credit score depends on more than just credit card balances.

    But have no fear, you are on the RIGHT TRACK!!! You will get there. Congratulations for correcting your path, most people never get that far! You owe yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work to get back on track. Congratulations! You didn’t wait until it was too late to resolve your situation.

    Getting back to your score, I suspect that it’s slowly crawling back up each month. It will never jump up quickly, that’s just not how it works. But with time, it will slowly climb. Keep up the good work!

  •     Juan
    · July 29th, 2008  · 9:03 pm  · Permalink

    I try once to get a lease car ,but no good result,now
    I fixed my credit report ,and I would like to get
    a new car, my question is ,if i try again and the result still No, this 2nd try will be down my credit score?

  •     Steph
    · August 2nd, 2008  · 10:48 am  · Permalink

    Hi Juan,

    The way it works is that every time you do a credit check, you lose a few points. This is to prevent someone from abusing the system and trying to get a ton of loans at the same time.

    And as a rule of thumb, a few points will generally not make the difference between getting and not getting a loan/lease.

  •     Loretta
    · August 20th, 2008  · 3:16 pm  · Permalink

    hi,
    I just got a credit card and i really want to improve my credit score with it, do i have to pay off all my balance at once every time that i use the card or should i always leave a remain balance at the card?, what is the best way to do it?

  •     Steph
    · August 23rd, 2008  · 3:17 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Loretta,

    There is some debate as to whether or keeping a balance is a good thing. My personally view is that you have to remember creditors want to history of paying your loans, and paying them on time.

  •     Juan
    · January 21st, 2009  · 2:56 am  · Permalink

    i try to buy a house this year, i dont have any debt, my credit is not bad ,do you think is good moment to buy?

  •     Steph
    · January 21st, 2009  · 1:34 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Juan,

    I can’t answer this for you since it depends on so many things.

    That being said, my personal opinion is that there is no good or bad time to buy. Instead what you have to do is look at the specific property you’re looking to buy. Is it a good deal?

    It’s the same as looking at buying anything. For example let’s look at buying DVD’s for a movie rental store and renting the movies. You could buy a DVD for $100, $40, $30, $20, $10, or even less than $5. The key is when does the DVD become a good deal for you. I

    f you can rent the DVD at $5/day and you know for sure you can rent it out every day for at least a month, then you’ll make a profit at any of these price points. Of course the cheaper you can get it for the better.

    However if all you can rent it for is $1/day and you’ll probably only rent it once a week, well then you can’t afford to pay $100 for the DVD because you’d lose money.

    The other thing to remember is that if you did buy it for $100 and you could only rent it for $1/day once a week, you probably won’t be able to sell that DVD later to someone else for $100 because they won’t be able to make a profit. They’d probably only want to pay $5-$20 tops.

    But in real estate it’s even more complicated, different areas have different normal rental prices and rental rates. For example you will probably more to rent a DVD in New York city than in Fargo, North Dakota.

    To sum up, there is no good or bad time to buy a house overall. There’s only a good or bad time to buy a house for you in your specific situation. You have to ask yourself, will the house I want to buy work numbers wise.

  •     Wayne
    · February 19th, 2009  · 5:45 am  · Permalink

    Hello there, i checked my credit score recently and i must admit it wasn’t very good. around 500 on equifax, which fits in the “good” range. But I’ve heard that it isn’t actually good on forums which is confusing me.

    | do have two credit cards which are basically maxed out. I’m owing 2k, but I’m clearing them next month as i have a large amount of money coming in.

    Am i being realistic in saying this will this improve my credit score to around 550-600?, Then if i handle my accounts well over the next 12 months i can see it raising to 600-650?

    Thank you for your time.

    kind regards, Wayne

  •     Steph
    · February 19th, 2009  · 3:53 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Wayne,

    The thing to remember is that the credit scores are built to avoid people gaming them. Which means there are some mechanisms to slow down the increases in your credit score for lump sum payments. Otherwise too many people would just make a large payment on their credit cards (maybe borrow money from a friend for a month), get an additional loan based on their new score, and then pull out right away (to possibly repay their friend).

    Without knowing the details of your case I can only guess. But in addition to having your credit card balances in check, they want to make sure you have a good history of paying on time. Which means if you’ve missed several payments and then pay your credit card in full, you’ll still have a bad credit score. Remember, it’s a combination of things, and your history is a big part of the score.

    That being said, if you pay off your balance in full, I can’t see it jumping by 50-100 points overnight. It will take some time. Again they’re just trying to prevent people from gaming the system. But if you keep the balances very low and pay everything on time, you can definitely expect to see positive results on your credit score within a year. I don’t know if it will climb to over 650, but it should go up from 500.

  •     Randy
    · March 29th, 2009  · 9:25 pm  · Permalink

    Hi -

    I noticed that my 3 credit reports show me as being self-employed, which is accurate for most of my life. However, last August (08), I was hired by the Department of Homeland Security and work for Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly INS).

    Would my credit scores go up at all if I wrote the bureaus and furnished proof of my government employment?

    Thanks!

  •     Steph
    · March 31st, 2009  · 1:49 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Randy,

    It’s possible, but not guaranteed. This is where it gets a bit complicated, and without knowing exactly how the calculations are done, we can’t know for sure.

    But more than that, I think it will matter more for your lender than your credit score. Some lenders will not lend to people who are self-employed, whereas others aren’t so specific.

    Let me give you an example. When I was buying my first house many years ago, I was a contractor (employed by my corporation). I was making good money and I had a good credit score but I still couldn’t get a mortgage with the interest rate I wanted (the rates they were able to offer me weren’t reasonable in my opinion). They said that although I had 2 years of continual income, on-going contracts, etc. (aka stability) they wanted at least 5 years. And even then they seemed hesitant.

    Then I decided to get a “job”. My salary was cut by 45%. Within a day I was able to get the mortgage with my employment contract. That’s while making 45% less!!! Not only that, I had only started the employment contract for 1 day, so there was no stability. I was able to get an fantastic interest rate, and I do mean a fantastic interest rate, even compared to today’s rates it would be respectable.

    In both cases my credit score was the same within a very small variation. The only difference was the employment. But remember, I had only started a day earlier, so my employment wasn’t yet on my credit report (there was no way it could affect my credit score). The lender cared more about the employment than the effects it could have had on my loan. Which is why I say, it really depends on your lender.

    Epilogue: It wasn’t that long after that I terminated the employment and went back to contracting. The money just wasn’t comparable and I had already gotten my mortgage. What’s interesting is that the lender only cares about your sheet today. Tomorrow can be completely different.

    Just one final word of warning, if you’re going to get a mortgage, make sure you can refinance it when it comes due (unlike many people struggling today with 5 year refinancing on 100+% mortgages). For example, in my case I knew I would eventually be going back to consulting (and then starting my business) so I needed to make sure I wouldn’t need to refinance soon and hence took a fixed rate mortgage locked for the term of the whole mortgage. In other words I would never have to refinance.

  •     Randy
    · April 14th, 2009  · 6:42 pm  · Permalink

    Hello Steph -

    Thanks for your quick reply to my previous question about telling the credit bureaus that I’m no longer self-employed.

    Here’s another question (actually two) if you don’t mind. My mortgage was sold to another company around December of 08. The new servicer has no intention of servicing my loan and wants to sell it off ASAP. They initially told me that they don’t even send out payment coupons or statements.

    I do realize that they are bound by law to honor the original loan terms, and I have been sending in payments each month to the new lender. They have been trying to “push” me into a loan that I’m not sure I like. I suspect that this loan is going to work out anyways. I’ve been calling and e-mailing my account rep about the status, and other items and he is not returning my calls now for over a week, and I know he’s at work.

    Question 1: What should I do about this, if anything? Should I be concerned about not receiving any communication?

    2. This new lender does not report to the Credit Bureaus. I looked at my 3 credit reports recently, and they list the original lender and say that the loan has been transferred. The monthly payment record stops in January of 2009 and does not reflect any payments I have made since. Is this hurting my score, and is there a way to get my mortgage payments added to my history if it is hurting my score?

    Thanks!

  •     Steph
    · April 15th, 2009  · 3:12 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Randy,

    Question 1:

    I would always be concerned about not receiving any communication for anything, not just for a mortgage, but for anything at all.

    As you said though, the reality is that they are bound by law to honor the original term, however they’ve express their intention to have you change loans. This is where it gets complicated when companies buy/sell loans and mortgages. And without knowing specifics, it’s really hard for me to even suggest anything. My guess is that since you’re not interested in moving your mortgage, the guy just doesn’t want to spend any time on you because he’s being paid by some kind of commission system. It isn’t right but unfortunately it happens.

    In any case, you should prepare for the worse. Prepare some options in case they don’t want to refinance you when it comes time.

    Question 2:

    I don’t believe lenders are required by law to report your payments (I’d have to confirm to be 100% sure), which means that if they don’t, there’s not much more you can do other than ask them nicely. They just might not be setup for it.

    As for hurting your score, that’s a tough question that I can’t answer without knowing the details. For example if you have a score of 500 versus 700, if you have a good/bad payment history, etc., it will have a different impacts. What I would suggest is that it’s not hurting so much as not improving it. You want a steady history of payments, which you’re not getting here. But I don’t know that there’s much you can do about it…

    The thing to watch out for is if it will hurt you when refinancing. Without knowing who the new lender is, it’s hard for me to know what they’re doing it. But if they aren’t as reputable, they could also be not reporting your history payment to limit your refinancing options… In other words I would definitely investigate more on what’s going on and look at all your options. And not just loans from them, but from other lenders. I’m a bit leery based on what your describing…

  •     Shawn
    · May 7th, 2009  · 7:42 pm  · Permalink

    Hi everyone, been a while since I’ve been back here. Last I was here I had a 560 credit score and was asking how to boost my credit score with the goal of buying a house. Well now I own a new home. (patting myself on the back). And the credit score is in the 650 to 690 range.

    My new goal is to discontiue usage of all my credit cards having achieved my goal. Of course I will be leaving the accounts open (until the banks get mad enough to close them). Right now I have two cards (Visa owing $1,800 and MS owing $700) I’m going to pay off totally as soon as I get my tax refund. My question is will I get a higher score paying them by spreading payments out let’s say for example over a 4 – 6 month period of time, or will I arrive at the same score just paying them off in one shot with one big payment. Yes – again I’m using the banks instead allowing the banks to use me. And I do relaize they would be making interest off me for those 4 – 6 months, and that may be the cost for a higher score. I just want to know the best way to get the highest credit scores before I stop using credit cards all together.

    My fiancee and I have decided we will no longer utilize credit cards any more. We were only using them to build our credit scores higher so that we could purchase a home. We have decided to save more of our money and establish our own independent line of credit so to speak, so that we’ll borrow our own money we’ve saved and then replace it immediatley there after.

  •     Steph
    · May 7th, 2009  · 8:05 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Shawn,

    First congrats on improving your credit score and buying your house!!! That’s great news! And a big accomplishment! Congrats!

    In regards to credit score, you may want to continue using your credit card, just make sure you pay it off each month so you don’t have to pay interest (and don’t fall into the same trap). Lenders want to see an active (and on time) payment history rather than no history.

    So instead of paying it off over several months, I would suggest paying it off all at once. Then continue using your credit card where you pay it off in full each month (even if it’s just $20/month, that’s better than nothing). This should give you a better score than completely stopping from using it.

  •     Shawn
    · May 8th, 2009  · 10:40 am  · Permalink

    Make sense to me. I’ll keep it down to $20.00 a month and continue to use it.

  •     Minnie Robak
    · May 22nd, 2009  · 11:01 am  · Permalink

    Hello,

    I am 17 and I am thinking of getting a phone plan for me and my boyfriend. However, the company said that I do not have enough credit to pay for the phone. I do not have a credit card, just debit card. What should I do to help the situation with out getting a credit card? Note: My boyfriend is the same to me – no credit card and no credit point.

  •     Steph
    · May 22nd, 2009  · 2:20 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Minnie,

    The phone company basically just want to see a history where you’ve borrowed money and paid it back on time. If you only have a debit card, you’ve never done that. For this you either need to get a credit card or a loan from a financial institution (a lender that will put the loan record on your credit report – not from your parents, etc.).

    You’ll also encounter this too if you go to buy a car or a home. Almost no one will lend you a car (at least not at a reasonable rate) if it’s your first loan. You need to pre-establish a history of on-time payments.

    Credit cards are good for this. The only downside is that too many people fall into the trap and acquire undo debt. If you want to avoid this, you can also use a secured credit card, which is pretty much the same as a debit card but through the credit card company (the funds are taken directly from your bank account and you can only spend as much as you have in your bank account – again it’s pretty much the same as a debit card it’s just that instead of interact, etc. the payment is going through Visa/Mastercard/etc.). I don’t believe it’s as effective as a full fledged credit card for your credit rating, but it’s a good way to start building a credit history.

  •     SUSAN
    · October 4th, 2009  · 10:56 pm  · Permalink

    HELLO, EVERYTHING I HAVE READ SO FAR HAS REALLY BEEN HELPFUL, BUT 8 OUT OF THE 12 ITEMS ON MY REPORT ARE MEDICAL BILLS DATING BACK TO 2003 WHEN I HAD BREAT CANCER, LOST MY JOB AND HAD NO INSURANCE. IT HAS TAKEN EVERYTHING I HAVE TO PAY MY EVERYDAY BILLS. I AM NOW INTERESTED IN BUYING A HOUSE AND LOOKING INTO A USDA LOAN BUT WORRY I WON’T QUALIFY BECAUSE I HAVE NOT PAID ON THESE BILLS IN A LONG TIME AND MY CREDIT IS ONLY 525 MIDDLE SCORE. CAN YOU GIVE ME ANY ADVICE ???? THANKS

  •     felecia
    · October 17th, 2009  · 7:32 am  · Permalink

    After a lifetime of being financially irresponsible, I have managed to increase my credit score from 450 to 683 in 32 months by never paying anything else late [lots of previous 30-60-90 day baddies before this period], opening a secured credit card with orchard [$500] which has a zero balance because i rarely use it, getting a paypal buyer credit account which i use sparingly and pay in full every month, and a Bank of America 9% car loan which I plan to refinance after making 12 on time payments. I had also co-signed a mortgage with my son which he also regularly paid late [like mother like son-- I am now teaching my son what I've learned about credit worthiness]. I was able to get my son to refinance his mortgage in his name only so that it would stop dinging my credit because my own late mortgage payments were doing a lot of dinging on their own–

    I now would like to get my score up to 720 so that I can get a good interest rate on a home mortgage after I sell my current home. I applied for a Bank of America credit card and received a letter stating that I could not qualify for an unsecured card because of past delinquencies but that they would issue me a secured credit card. I am considering a $2000 secured credit card with Bank of America but would like to know how much of an impact you think a $2000 secured credit line will have on my credit score. Also should I consider increasing the secured Orchard credit card from $500 to $750 or perhaps $1000.

    I’m trying to establish as a good customer with Bank of America because I’ve read that they may convert my secured card to an unsecured card in 12 months which Orchard will never do.

  •     Randy
    · October 18th, 2009  · 1:27 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph -

    I know you stress the importance of removing incorrect data from credit reports. I have a rather unique situation that might be beyond the scope of this blog, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

    I was recently denied by an underwriter in re-financing my home due to a default/foreclosure on my mortgage in 2008. I’m told I need to wait until 3 years have passed (FHA). My credit scores are actually not that bad and I did qualify for a decent rate before this default was noticed. I had erroneously thought a default was not the same a foreclosure, and since our home was not sold at auction, I thought we we’re alright.

    In any event, a unique thought came to mind to possibly remove this default from the credit bureaus and others. We filed chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2005 and did surrender our property, although we stayed in it and made “voluntary” payments.

    All former mortgage holders have been paid off and reported to the Register of Deeds in a normal manner -”satisfied in full”. My relative bought the first mortgage and that is all that is left. I wondered if I could send my bankruptcy documents to the bureaus that and argue that the default is recorded in error since the property was surrendered in 2005?

    Any ideas or suggestions you have are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  •     Steph
    · October 25th, 2009  · 5:31 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Susan,

    Unfortunately it may be difficult for you to get a mortgage. Although I understand there were reasons for your financial troubles, the credit score doesn’t take these into consideration.

    The best advice I can give you is to continue paying your bills on time and continue trying to build up your credit.

    You may also want to talk to a mortgage broker, they may have some more interesting financing options for you. Just be careful you don’t get caught buying more house than you can afford, like a lot of people in the market today. Buying is not always the best choice, sometimes renting is a better option…

  •     Steph
    · October 25th, 2009  · 5:35 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Felecia,

    Congratulations on improving your financial health!! It will go a long way.

    Based on what you’ve described you’re doing a fantastic job of improving your credit. I don’t know that there’s any more you can do. You’re on the right path.

    All that’s left is time. And this is often the hardest part. Lenders don’t just want to see a short burst of good payment history, they want to see a consistent payment history. Imagine if it was you lending money out. Would you favor someone who’s been paying on time for 10 years or someone who has a bad history of paying on time up until a few years ago? You’d probably favor the person with the better history.

    Which means you just have to continue on your current path. It will take time, but it will be worth it.

    Congratulations!

  •     Steph
    · October 25th, 2009  · 5:39 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Randy,

    To be honest, I don’t know. This is actually beyond the scope of this, or any blog. It’s all in the details. Which means that anyone telling you an answer probably doesn’t really know.

    That is to say, someone would really have to look into your situation and see exactly what happened, what the paperwork was, etc.

    As well, anytime you don’t make your payments because you no longer can, whether it’s a default, a bankruptcy, etc., it will still show up on your credit score. Lenders want to know when you failed to complete your payments.

  •     T M
    · February 5th, 2010  · 12:51 pm  · Permalink

    Question:
    My husband and I are relocating for his new job, hes already started the job. We own our home and have no debt.
    The problem is, while my credit scores range from 720-730 his is 500-583.

    He had medical bills in 2003 that went into collections in 2004 (that we thought insurance had paid), but in 2004 we paid them off completly. They all show paid with 0 balance.

    We havent been late on any payments with our store credit cards..
    Weve had our mortgage since 2004 with never a missed or late payment. Our cars are paid off through monthly payments from 2005-2007.

    But we cant get a new mortgage because of his credit score. I am wondering why his score would be so low when we dont have any debt?

  •     Steph
    · February 5th, 2010  · 1:07 pm  · Permalink

    Hi T M,

    Have you requested to have a credit report? Always look at your credit report because there may be some mistakes, omissions, etc. Although we like to believe the credit reporting system is perfect, just like everyone else they do make mistakes from time to time. The good news is that if there’s a mistake, it can be fixed!

    Other than that, it really depends on what you mean by went into collections. Depending on your situation, it may take some time to show a history of proper payments, which you’re absolutely doing! Keep up the great work!

    So to re-iterate, I’d first get a report to verify that everything is accurate, that there are no blatant errors, etc. If everything looks as it should, then it’s probably just a matter of time depending on how bad it was in 2003-2004. Each year will get better and better.

    The other thing to note is that you’re also trying to get a mortgage in a difficult financial time, so everything is going to be much much harder. A few years ago he probably could’ve gotten the mortgage by himself. Today you need an almost perfect financial history, guaranteed income, etc. Lenders are being extremely rigid right now.

  •     T M
    · February 5th, 2010  · 1:15 pm  · Permalink

    Thank you for your fast reply :)

    We check our credit reports every month just to make sure there is nothing on there.

    The debt we paid off was just around $1000.00, and the collector was a local collection agency.

    Our current mortgage lender told me they dont look at mortgage payments to determine if we can get a new loan. I would have thought that that would have been the biggest thing they would look at.

    Also, another question if I may,
    My daughter is almost 18 and leaving for college in the fall. Should I add her to one of my store credit cards (like kohls) to help her start to establish her own credit?

  •     Steph
    · February 11th, 2010  · 5:23 pm  · Permalink

    You’re welcome. I apologize for taking so long to respond to this one, I had an email notice and someone it fell below the fold, so I didn’t notice it again until today.

    In any case, getting back to your situation, it is odd that he has such a low score based on what you’re describing. I would therefore recommend talking to a local expert and going over your credit reports in detail. Maybe they can find something specific that you’re missing (because to be honest, without seeing it I can only speculate at best).

    As for your daughter, it really depends on how you add it. If it’s just a name with no financial responsibility, then it might not really help. She’s probably better off get a secured credit card, which is in essence the same as an ATM card but where each transaction is done through the Visa/Mastercard network. You cannot borrow on these cards, you can only use up as much money as you have in your account.

  •     No credit, Ok Job - Page 2 - 8th Generation Honda Civic Forum
    · April 8th, 2010  · 7:27 pm  · Permalink

    [...] are two links (good read) on how to build a good credit: FollowSteph.com – 7 Simple Tips And 5 Secrets to Increase Your Credit Score Credit for the College Student | BlogCadre Other than those, I recommend to have only one card. [...]

  •     Shan
    · June 1st, 2010  · 9:37 am  · Permalink

    Hello,

    I have been working on my credit score for about a year now. When I first started I was at about 401. Now I’m at 527. I noticed that every month if I worked on the balance of my cards and decreased them my score would change by about 15-20pts. Now I feel like my score isn’t moving. I have a few bad debts and went into to settlement with all of these accounts. When the change reflected on my credir report. it decreased my score even though the accounts were settled. I plan to bring the account balance on the one card I have back down to 0, the limit is only 500. Any other suggestions for how I can increase my score since I can’t apply for any cards. Also the accounts on my report aer approaching 7yrs, will they fall off my credit report, or does the time start over from the date I settled?

  •     Steph
    · June 7th, 2010  · 6:58 am  · Permalink

    Hi Shan,

    Please do understand that a lot of your credit score is based on your history. 15% is your credit history and 35% is your payment history. In other words about half of your credit score is based on your history.

    The reason for this is to prevent people from quickly fixing their credit only to get back into the same problem, or worse, within a short time. Anyone can do a quick fix to their history, and that’s why the lenders want more.

    Another way to think of it is imagining it’s your own money you’re lending out. Would you prefer to lend to someone who has had problems paying back and only just recently started to fix their situation or would you prefer to lend to someone with a good and long history of paying you back? Odds are you’d prefer the second because the first person hasn’t yet established a reputation of consistently paying you back.

    In essence you’re the second person. You’ve done an amazing job of getting your credit score on track, it’s just that you don’t have the best history. So lenders are careful, which is why it’s harder to increase your credit score. You basically have to establish a history of properly paying back all your loans. As you do this, your score will increase more and more.

    Again, back to our example, if someone with a not so good history paid you back for a bit, would you go ahead and lend them a bigger amount? Probably not, you’d want to increase it a little bit at a time. This is exactly what your credit score is doing. It’s easy to gain some trust, but it’s hard to gain further and further trust as the numbers get bigger and bigger.

  •     Thomas
    · July 29th, 2010  · 10:02 am  · Permalink

    Hello,
    I have always tried to take care of my credit score. However a few years back I ran into serious financial problems. I’m self employed and my income dropped drasticly. I had a major credit card that doubled the interest rate and I couldn’t make the minimum which in turn made it harder the next month because of penalties. I finally gave up on trying to keep good credit and started focusing on trying to keep a house and food for the family. I settled with a collection agency on the card about 2 years ago leaving a balance of about 5 thousand dollars. All of my other accounts are in good standing and I have a current score of 695 even with the key derogatory from the settlement. It is still a struggle to pay my bills but I am doing it with not much left over. My question is, do I leave it alone and let it fall off of my report in the years to come or should I contact the agency and try to pay to have it removed? They haven’t reported in 2 years and my report from them only covers the negative, not the years of on time payments. Could the absence of the positive be considered inaccurate and possibly get it removed with the credit bureaus? How long should this remain on my credit report? I’ve heard from the time they stopped reporting and some say from the first report of being late. This one account is the only really bad thing on my credit report. I have a few store cards right now and my mortgage but thats the only debt I have that reports. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  •     Shawn
    · August 24th, 2010  · 3:05 pm  · Permalink

    Hello Steph

    My credit score is (Equifax) 688 now. I would like to get into the 700′s. I have some derogatories on my history that should fall off within the next 2 to 3 years. I believe these are what are keeping me from the 700 club. I have credit accounts as follows:

    BOA with limit of $300 and current balance of $0 (Started in 07. Have not used in 2 years since they refused to raise my limit)

    HSBC with limit of $700 and current balance of $0 (Started in 07. Have not used in 1 year since they refused to lower my interest rate)

    Chase with limit of $2000 and current balance of $0 (Started in 08. Will no longer use since the refuse to lower my interest rate. )

    Credit Union Card with limit of $300 and current balance of $0 (Started last week.)

    Haverty’s Store Card with $2500 and current balance of $165 (Started in 2010.)

    Car note of $15,000 being paid as agreed. House note also being paid as agreed

    No late pays since 2005. And those were for the derogatory accounts
    Citibank $1500 paid and settled since 05
    Old Car charged off for $1,000 in 03
    Late Mortgage payments on old loan in 02
    Old collection paid of $100

    My two questions are: other than waiting for those items to fall off my report, how do I get this score into the 700′s?

    Will opening an American Express Gold card account specifically help specifically in raising my score because it is a charge card?

    Some history:
    When last I spoke I told you my goal was to get into the 700′s and then not use credit cards anymore. You advised I needed some utilization, so I used one card for a year until they decided to raise my interest rate. This was the Chase card. I don’t like BIG BANK and will not support them any longer in cases I can control, so I elected recently to pay the card off and leave it open and then start a small account with a credit union for $300.00. I don’t actually want to utilize any credit cards but if I must it will be the one from credit union with the lowest interest rate. My goal is still to get into the mid 700′s.

  •     Steph
    · August 24th, 2010  · 3:17 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Shawn,

    Congratulations on improving your credit score that much more since. And it’s great to see that you have all your financial affairs in good order!

    In regards to using your credit card, please note that you don’t have to. You don’t have to do anything. It’s just been suggested that keeping an active loan (which is easily done with credit cards) helps improve your credit score. By active loan I mean one in which you borrow money, not just repay it. If you prefer not to, then I would just leave it alone.

    I understand you don’t like the interest rates, but unfortunately that’s part of the game. You can always call them to reduce it, you might be surprised how often this can work to your advantage. In the worse scenario, you lose nothing more than a few minutes to make the call.

    And if you’re paying it in full each month, or keeping a very low balance, then you should barely be paying any interest, if any at all.

    For getting a score of 700+, based on what I’ve read, it’s very likely just a matter of time. Any indiscretions in the past just take time to go away.

    One question I do have for you is what your goal? That is to say, why do you want to achieve a 700 credit score? Is there some impending reason or it it mainly for personal satisfaction? If it’s mostly just to get in that range, and it’s not to apply for a specific loan, I might recommend not worrying about it too much. At this point it’s mainly time. You’ve done everything right.

  •     Shawn
    · August 24th, 2010  · 4:22 pm  · Permalink

    Wow – speedy reply- thanks.

    I want the benefits and advantage that come with having excellent credit. I don’t want to ever have to borrow any money, but that isn’t realistic thinking and life sometimes throws you a curve ball you’re just not prepared for. So should the situation call for it, I would like the score that enables me to borrow at the best possible rate no matter if it’s a new mortgage refi, car loan, or business loan. But ideally I prefer to have it the way it is now – credit card debt free. I’ve accepted that good debt such as home, car or student may be necessary. I’m only using credit cards now as a tool towards my end goal of the highest score I could achieve. Sounds shallow maybe, but (I’ve allowed) credit card companies to use me for years. I’m just reversing the situation for my benefit thsi time.

    A part of it is very personal. I’ll never forget when I had lost my job and I could only afford to pay the minimum and was doing so monthly on a automatic basis with my banks auto bill pay. I had my payments set to a specific amount of $20.00 and to my fault did not read my Chase statement until it was too late, since they had raised my min payments to $21.00. Although they had received $20.00, their “process” led them to charge me a $35 late fee for being a 1 dollar short. Although I argued hours over the phone with them, the best they wanted to offer me was to not report the late fee on my credit reports, which they couldn’t have anyway. Banks only treat people humane when you first sign their contracts. I also had a horrible customer service experience with BOA which led me to promise never to use anything from them again, unitl my home loan got sold to them go figure. All of this forced me to become more smart and savy with my financial choices. I’m only utilizing these cards for my own long term benefit. They are a necessary evil and means to that end.

    A short term goal of mine is maybe around March 2011 to refinance my home if the rates are still low. Would be cool if I could maybe role my car note into that new loan. I saw the benefits of having a good score when I first bought my home last year. I guess it’s all repositioning and restructuing all my debt at this point.

  •     Tim E
    · October 14th, 2010  · 4:35 pm  · Permalink

    Im 34 and have always paid my debts on time, never missed a payment, always paid in full credit card purchases, recently paid off a car lian in full, my credit scores are 787,776,775 but my all interest mortgage loan is around 90% of my available credit and never gets paid down so the ratio never changes which I’m assuming is why I haven’t been able to be approved for a simple best buy store card for a measly $2000. My question is I know I need to do a refi of my mortgage to pay it down better my debt to credit ratio but is there anything else I can do to solve this dilemma outside of a refinance of my mortgage? Btw I have 5 active credit accounts, two are the mortgage, three others are for small amounts and all paid off.

  •     Steph
    · October 18th, 2010  · 12:58 pm  · Permalink

    Even though you’ve given quite a bit of information, which is appreciated, without getting down into the nitty gritty details there’s no way to know for sure.

    That being said, I think your conclusion is correct. If you have a mortgage that is never going to be paid down, I suspect you’ll be limited in what you can borrow. It’s not just the ratios, but with the economy the way it is, who knows, there may even be flags for credit reports with those kinds of loans (interest only).

    You can’t blame them either, because your balance is basically the value of your house. Since you’re paying down your principal, all it takes is for your property to decrease by 11% for the mortgage to be worth less than the asset. That’s not a lot when you consider what’s happening right now…

    Let me ask you this way, would you personally lend money to someone on an interest only loan that’s 90% of the value of the asset in a very down market on that asset? Where if the asset depreciates by 10% you will probably never get repaid. My guess is probably not…

  •     Shan
    · October 18th, 2010  · 1:11 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    I am still working on my credit score as promised. I did take into accout the advice you have given. I am working a few accounts to get them settled. I have shop around for cars and noticed that everyone wants to give me a loan but at interest rates around 20%. Since I recently financed a car because I was in need of one, however I decided to take my school loans since I didn’t need all of them and pay the car off in full, three months after purchasing it. And now I am paying the loan off at a 7.5% interest rate. Was this a smart move?

  •     Player Profiles
    · October 29th, 2010  · 10:54 pm  · Permalink

    You you should make changes to the blog subject
    FollowSteph.com – 7 Simple Tips And 5 Secrets to Increase Your Credit Score to something more suited for your webpage you make. I enjoyed the post nevertheless.

  •     simon
    · December 13th, 2010  · 11:27 am  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    Me and my wife are desperately seeking a mortgage lender who can approve us. The problem is we both have low credit scores with mine being 558 and hers 590. We have a few accounts that have gone to collections and planning on paying these off next month. We make a combined yearly salary of 130k. Realistically is it possible to raise our scores in the next 6 months to around the 620s?

  •     Steph
    · December 15th, 2010  · 5:18 pm  · Permalink

    To be quite honest, it’s even possible to have a difference in credit score of 30 points between the different services.

    That being said, assuming the lender will be using the same service, it looks like it should be possible within 6 months. It really depends on exactly what’s on your record. The income is great, but lenders are even more interested in your payment history. You could be making $500k a year and still be defaulting on all your loans.

  •     Charles
    · December 27th, 2010  · 4:45 pm  · Permalink

    Steph,

    I am currently 26 years old I defaulted on 3 cards and have 2 medical bills in collections also. 2 of the cards have been written of by the credit departments. The other says it will be off my record by 06/2011 but says that the account is still open should i not pay this or should i pay it off? Also I just feel like i got in way over my head when i was 18 the in total all my debt is around $1700.00. I have the money to pay off all the debt now but is that wise. I have been told that when you pay off an amount owed that it gets reinstated to stay on the credit report for another 7 years. Thanks in advance.

  •     Steph
    · January 23rd, 2011  · 12:33 am  · Permalink

    Hi Charles,

    To be quite honest, without looking at your personal credit record, I can’t tell you either way for sure. Therefore what I would recommend is bringing your information to a local accountant and asking them for details. They’ll be able to quickly tell by looking at your credit report exactly what’s what.

  •     Nadine
    · February 1st, 2011  · 1:43 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph!

    Thanks for the information. I just asked for my credit scores for the first time in my life because I’m planning to buy a car in summer and got really surprised. I scored 642 with Transunion and 574 with Equifax. I only have one credit card since 2006, have had 3 late payments during 2008 just because I forgot. I have to admit that when running the credit report my credit card which limit is 1000$ was at 1004 because my payment was not applied at the bank yet. But I’ve never been in collection or something like that. I have a cell phone contract with Fido and never ever had a problem paying it and never maxed out my credit limit with them. I’m 23 years old. I just don’t understand.
    I actually want to lend a car on a long term basis in summer. And it is really important for my job. I just got my credit card balance down to 850 and my credit card limit was increased to 1500 by my bank. I’m actually finishing my 2 years training to become a CPA (already passed all the exams) and working for a big accounting firm. So I have many questions.
    First of all, why is it that my credit score is that low?
    Second, is my credit score used if I want to apply for a long term lease for a car?
    If yes, what is an acceptable credit score to be sure to get an approval for a car that worth around 38k?
    Is it possible to raise my score in order to rent a car for summer (let’s say june or july) or it’s gonna take longer?
    Finally, does any of my other information like the fact that I’m a professional, working for a big firm and have a pretty good amount of cash (10k at least) in savings have an impact on my ability to rent a car? I make about 3000$ net per month and my car’s payment will probaby be around 500$ (without insurance and gaz) per month.
    Thanks for your answer!

  •     Stephane Grenier
    · February 1st, 2011  · 5:29 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Nadine,

    You’ve got quite a loaded question there. I will try to answer as best as I can, but without seeing your actual credit report, it’s very possible that my answers are wrong. I can only guess and make some assumptions based on the information you’ve written.

    Having had a $1000 credit card for 4-5 years with a few late payments is not going to give you a good credit score. It’s just not enough credit history. It’s a good start, but moving up to a $38k car is a big step. I can’t imagine it will be easy based on your revenues and credit history. My guess is that if it does get approved, there will be high interest payments.

    The key is that your ratios will be at the limits, and you barely have any history, and at that it’s not perfect. Once you add your rent into the equation along with the car payment, you’re probably going to be pushing over 50% of your net revenue per month. That’s a highly leveraged ratio on a depreciating asset.

    In terms of credit score, it may play a small part, but not nearly as much as you’re probably hoping for. Your salary and length of employment are worth a lot more than where you work. And the fact that you’re younger means you also tend to fall into a higher risk group.

    To be quite honest, you may be better off looking at a more affordable car. $38k for a car is quite high considering your credit history and your income. I suspect you won’t be able to finance it, and if you do, it will be at higher rates than you expect. Personally I would recommend another car. Plus, if anything happens, you won’t have any financial leeway, you will be maxed out on your monthly expenses. Don’t forget even with a leased car, there are additional expenses to cover.

  •     Brian
    · February 21st, 2011  · 12:42 pm  · Permalink

    Hey Steph!

    I have a loan that is about 2 years behind, and the bank is still reporting it as “KD”. Now if i would enter some sort of paying arrangements with them, how would this reflect on my credit report? Would it show i am paying, or would it still be shown as “KD? I was so far behind because i was out of work for a little over a year, and I had other personal things to deal with. If I would enter into some sort of payment arrangements with them, would this start to help my credit score, or would it still hurt it?

  •     Stephane Grenier
    · February 21st, 2011  · 4:28 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Brian,

    It definitely wouldn’t hurt. However based on what you’re describing, you can’t expect your credit score to improve overnight. This will take some time of consistent and good history, for sure more than a year. But the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get there…

  •     magalee
    · March 8th, 2011  · 9:03 pm  · Permalink

    Hi
    My name is magalee and me and my partner are trying to move out but we dont want to put an aplication for a home cause we dont want to get denied we checked his credit scores the lowest is 639 and the highest is 691 but we cant even get approved for a car or furniture some of the dealerships said we had a short period of history our longest account is 1 year but paid off in 8 months we dont like to have debt so we try paying everything as soon as we can but looks to be hurting us at this time how can we get approved for a mortgage loan

  •     Steph
    · March 10th, 2011  · 5:21 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Magalee,

    Without a history, it’s going to be difficult. Basically lenders want to see a history of successful re-payments, otherwise they have no way of knowing if you’ll pay on time or not.

    A common way to do this is to get a secured credit card. That is a credit card that’s pretty much the same as a debit card, but its just done through the credit card network. It’s not much, but it will start your history.

    Basically you can’t go from no history to buying a house, you have to create and establish your history. Even with a good credit score. And a secured credit card is an easy way to get started without acquiring any debt.

  •     Jemie
    · April 25th, 2011  · 10:43 pm  · Permalink

    Hello Steph,
    Thank you for the time to give us these tips and advice! So basicly I just had my lender look up my credit report so that I could see where I was at to get pre-approved to buy a house for the first time.
    He called me back with a report of 627. So he told me that I wasn’t qualified. That I only had two fico scores and needed a third one. That I did have a credit card account but that it was at 0 balance with no credit.
    So here is my predicament, not to be deterred from atleast getting on the way to being able to purchase a home, I just paid off my school loan- I just paid off my car fully, I have no credit card debt, but I have been at my job for 6 years and can afford a mortgage payment. In fact I pay more in renting a house by 700 compared to a reasonable mortgage.

    He advised me to go and get 4 credit cards and buy gas with them paying each one off every month for a year.

    Is that truly thee best course of action and quickest?

    Also, delinquencies and a repo from a previous marriage when I was younger still remain on my record after a few years have passed now- How long will they potentially stay on my report and how do I even begin to dispute or correct these to have them taken off my report?
    Your help and advice are greatly appreciated.
    Lastly, since he checked my credit today can I then go to annualcreditreport.com or call these bureaus to have my actual report and score since it’s still in the 7 day window?

  •     Jemie
    · April 25th, 2011  · 10:53 pm  · Permalink

    Shouldn’t the fact that I had been paying and have paid off both my loan and car be sufficient to attest to my “trustworthiness” on top of proof in my car/loan statements and checking/savings accounts? Why should acquiring the possibillty of debt be the only way considered esp. now when the economy is in such a way it is I just don’t want that temptation.

  •     rod
    · April 27th, 2011  · 2:10 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    I usually want an accurate credit score so I generally pay for a credit score from the actual credit bureaus equifax, trans, and experian. I noticed that when I purchase another product such as identity protector my score varies significantly by about 20 points or so. Why is this? Also when I purchased my vehicle equifax was reporting to me that my score was 620, however at the dealership they had 580 from equifax. Please explain this to me. I reviewed both credit reports from equifax as well as identity protector and the same information is there as far as my accounts.

  •     Steph
    · April 27th, 2011  · 3:27 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Jemie,

    You have a pretty complex case, even if it doesn’t initially appear so. Firstly, lenders want to look at your ongoing credit worthiness. In other words are you continuing to pay on time or was that a one time thing. Because you were delinquent before, it’s that much more important to show that you can continue to pay on time.

    The best way to look at it is from the lender’s point of view. So imagine that you’re lending to a friend of yours. In the past they didn’t repay you once. Right now they have things paid for, but they haven’t borrowed money from anyone in a long time, so how can you know they will pay you back. They may seem to have the money, but will they actually pay you or just ignore the payments? You have no way of knowing because they have no history.

    Similarly you have to build your history. Using credit cards and paying them off each month is a great way of doing this. It will take some time because you have to establish a history. If you look at the chart above, you’ll see that a good percentage is on showing not just that you can pay, but that you will pay.

    In regards to getting your credit report, it depends. You will have to contact lender. Many times lenders have deals with the credit agencies so that they can get the reports at a discount because of volumes. This often means you won’t have access to it.

    As for your history and how long it will stay on your report, it’s hard to tell without knowing the details. But my guess would be probably for a while…

  •     Steph
    · April 27th, 2011  · 3:33 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Rod,

    Unfortunately without a lot of details, I cannot explain the differences. The first thing to look for is are they indeed using the same credit rating agencies?

    The next question is how long apart where the reports? Where they the same week?

    Based on that, I would then ask how many times did you have a credit check performed between the two? The reason I ask is that each time you have a credit check done, you lose some points. Therefore if you did a check, and you possibly shopped for a car loan through a few lenders, then the dealer, that could quickly and easily explain the difference.

    In case you’re wondering, the reason they do this is to prevent people from getting a ton of loans all within a few hours/days. This way each time you try to get a loan, there is a cost. And the more rapid you’re doing it, the bigger the cost. Again, this is to prevent people from going to a few dozen different lenders in a day and borrowing as much as possible. This prevents you from being able to do that.

    Most likely it’s the last item. But if not, I’ve also heard stories of finance departments making adjustments to the number before they show the client. That is to say, you don’t ever really see your report, they just tell you the number. By going this route they can usually adjust the number. It’s not exactly ethical or legal, but it has happened. However I would highly doubt this is it because it’s still very rare. More often than not it’s that you shopped around for a loan and that act itself cause the score to go down temporarily.

  •     Anti-Equifax
    · April 27th, 2011  · 4:52 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    So I’ve been playing the credit score game for a while now. I call it a game because it seems like thats what the reporting agency are playing along with me. I cannot seem to get my score above 700. I’m always hovering between 670 and 690 on my Equifax. I just checked my score yesterday and I’m at 671. My credit profile looks like this:

    THE GOOD:
    The following accounts have never been late with payment.

    1 BOA Master Card since 2007 with limit of $300 I never use but keep open.

    1 Chase Visa with limit of $2000 since 2008 which I use frequently but owe 0 now.

    1 HSBC Master Card since 2006 with limit of $750 I never use but keep open.

    1 Credit Union Visa since 2010 with a limit of $750 which I use frequently with a balance of $350

    A Car Note paid as agreed where I owe $13,000 down from $17,000

    A 30 year mortgage with BOA I’m three years into.

    THE BAD:
    1 charged off car loan from 7 years ago. Should be falling off my report in June 2011(Last Activity is 2004). I owed 2,000 on that. Divorce financial issues back then.

    And finally 5 to 7 late pays on a old joint mortgage from a home I once owned with my X wife. Probably will fall off my account by 2014. (I read somewhere Mortgage latepays take 10 years to fall off your credit report). These latepays were as a consequence of the divorce and remains a reminder of a problematic marriage. (Last Activity is 2007). This was an old CountryWide loan that was refinanced out of in 2006 by my x wife. Bank of America purchased CountryWide, and BOA is also coincidently my mortgager for my current new home. I contacted them last year to see if they could stop reporting the deliquency going back to 2003-2004, but they refused to even though the latepays were under CountryWide and prior to BOA buying them. They also refused to take into consideration my current mortgage history and my line of credit history with them. They insist on keeping the lates on my report from 2003-2004. :-(

    In summary, all my derogatory issues took place 7 years ago. The only reason why BOA reports last activity in 2007, is because initially I contacted CountryWide via letter, to ask them to stop reporting the lates from 2003-2004 since the mortgage was sold in 2006 and zeroed out. I explained the lates were due to financial hardship due to divorce. Unfortunately that triggured them to update the date of last activity to 2007, and deny my request. So really contacting them just made my problems worse. :-(

    I know thats a lot, but I want to give you all the facts. So my question is what can I do to raise my credit score above 700? Do I need to try to get the card companies to raise the limits on some of my cards. I am only using these cards to maintain and raise my credit score to at least 750 this year. It seems like the higher the score gets, the more difficult it becomes to reach the target. I’m not currently planning on buying a car or a new home any time soon. But who knows what can happen that will require stellar credit? For example my car was totalled last year and out of nowhere I needed my good credit to qualify for another car loan quickly.

    What can I do to raise my credit score above 700?

  •     Stephane Grenier
    · April 27th, 2011  · 10:15 pm  · Permalink

    That’s probably the most detailed comment I’ve ever seen!! Most people aren’t willing to share that many details online.

    Ok, so here’s my opinion. Having a score of 670 already means you’re doing really good considering what’s on your record. Until those blemishes go away, it will be extremely difficult to get a score of 750.

    That being said, with a score in the high 600′s, it’s very likely you will get loans. It’s an average score. That’s good considering you have some bigger blemishes. The only issue is at what interest rates. The only real benefit I can see right now of getting your score above 700 is that you’ll be able to get a better interest rate.

    To be quite honest, I wouldn’t worry about it because unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be much you can do other than just wait it out.

    In regards to removing the the late pays, you can’t really blame them. Imagine if everyone did that. As soon as one late pay is removed, then they have no record of it. All you have to do is repeat the cycle again and just get it wiped out.

    If you lent me your personal money, would you remember that I was late paying you at some point and use that to make your decision on whether or not to lend me money. If I said just forget about it because I’m borrowing other moneys from you, would you forget about it? You’d still want to treat me more careful just in case. It’s the same with them.

    You’re doing very well, so keep going in this direction. I understand it’s frustrating waiting for the credit score to improve, but that’s part of the game. The good news is that you don’t have any pressing needs to get loans. And always remember that you can refinance most loans if you credit score increases in the future, so if you need to get another car loan for example, in a couple of years when your score has improved, you can just refinance the loan on better terms.

    The other thing to remember is that going higher in the scale gets that much harder. Going from 500 to say 550 is pretty easy. Going from 750 to 800 is incredibly difficult. To get in the high 700′s you have to be using a decent amount of credit with a spotless history. To get in the 800′s you need to be using even more credit and almost be paying it ahead of time, along with a perfect history.

  •     Anti-Equifax
    · April 28th, 2011  · 8:44 am  · Permalink

    LOL. I would have called but I lost your number. Thx for your reply. Guess I will wait it out as you mentioned.

  •     Kris
    · September 26th, 2011  · 9:04 am  · Permalink

    What a great website! I have read through so many of the questions and answers and have gotten a fair idea of what I personally need to do. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask an expert does it?

    In 2007/2008 (unsure of the actual date), I went to a generic website for credit cards and apparently applied for one, though I wasn’t aware of it. I have never had a credit card before, nor have I had a car loan or mortgage. I’ve been a strict cash on the barrel kind of person for all of my adult life. Long story short, the card came in with a 250$ credit limit. I used the card once to get gas (20$). The bill came in and they had added a one time fee for activating or whatever it was. I called them, because I wasn’t aware of something like this and disputed. So the bill was late. They added a late fee. Within 30 days my 20 dollar use had turned into half of my credit limit – used from their fees/late fee. So I disputed again. In three months they closed my account altogether and charged it off at 370$.
    I have tried to repair my credit and 6 months ago paid them in a settlement for half of the “balance”. That is the ONLY thing on my credit record. I opened a secured credit card 6 months ago and have paid the balance off every month on time, never late. My score is now 645. Do I stand a chance of getting a car loan for a used car 18k-22k?

  •     Steph
    · January 5th, 2012  · 2:40 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Kris,

    There’s no way for anyone to know for sure based just on the information you provided. For example, part of the loan process also takes into account your employment. If you have a good employment history and make a decent wage, you should be able to get the loan. The bigger question is really going to be for what interest rate.

    You also have to remember that cars are depreciating assets, so the rates are rarely going to be as good as say for a home. That being said, some (not all) car dealers are willing to lend money at amazing rates, so you might be lucky that way too.

    Basically there’s no way to know for sure unless you try it. But if you have a stable employment history and you’re making a decent wage, and your costs of living aren’t too crazy, you should be able to get a loan at a decent rate.

  •     Angie
    · March 15th, 2013  · 3:41 pm  · Permalink

    Steph,

    I am currently trying to improve my credit.
    I bought a car and have been makiing the payments almost a week before its due and i just opened a secure credit card.
    Limit $300 dollars it originally came with a fee of $39 dollars for a year.
    I have had it onlu for maybe a week I have used $150 dollars if in 2 days or maybe 5 I pay the balance in full before the next statement will that affect me?

  •     followsteph
    · March 27th, 2013  · 7:16 am  · Permalink

    If you have a new secured credit card, then it should be taking the amounts directly from your bank account. What you’re describing seems to be more of an unsecured credit card. In any case, as long as you pay ontime, and you pay at least the minimum payment, it will improve your credit score. However a week or so is not nearly enough time for it to have any significant impact (other than if you don’t pay). You’ll have to give it some months for it to have a noticeable impact.

  •     N
    · May 1st, 2013  · 5:02 pm  · Permalink

    Hi Steph,

    My fiance and I were trying to get preapproved for a home loan, but his credit is HORRIBLE (low 500s), due to multiple defaulted private student loans. My credit is decent, (TU 676, EQ 670, EX 659) and probably would have gotten us a loan if I applied on my own, but my income alone would not have put us in a price range that we would want to be in, so we didn’t even bother to apply. We have been trying to find the best way to start tackling these loans, but we do not even know where to begin. His mother has all of the loan information, and will not pass it along to us, beause she doesn’t want me involved. We were able to get all the lender info via a credit report, but some items were sent to collections, and others charged off. Should we try to work directly with the lenders? Collections? Should we look to consolidate, or get a personal loan to cover it, and then just pay on that? We are really struggling because NO ONE wants to touch private student loans. We have called credit counselors, and have basically been shut down the moment the words “private student loans” crossed our lips! I believe his mother already may have consolidated some of the loans (then defaulted) but it is hard to tell from the credit report alone. He has a pretty solid income, as do I, so we know we can handle the debt, but we just want to be the most efficient about it has possible.
    Thanks.

  •     followsteph
    · June 21st, 2013  · 9:40 pm  · Permalink

    I apologize but I’m a bit confused. His mother is managing his loans and won’t let either of you see the loan papers? If this is the case, then the first thing you need to do is take control back. She has no legal right to take control of your finances. Without that information or control, it’s really hard to be able to do anything because you can’t even know what you owe, to who, and/or how much. You need to take control of your finances yourself. She cannot legally block you from seeing your financial information. In fact you should be the other way around,s he should not be able to access your finances unless you allow her.

  •     Mark
    · March 7th, 2014  · 4:19 pm  · Permalink

    1987 bought house (mortgage) with wife. Divorced 1996 Court said she was responsible for mortgage. 2006 Quit claimed home to ex and new husband and court documented the agreement that I was no longer responsible for the mortgage. They soon got a line of credit using the home but I wasn’t notified and the Bank later told me since I quit claimed it, I had no say. 2008 ex stopped making mortgage payments and foreclosure process started. Bank said I was also responsible for note. I filed petition with divorce court to make her sell home and court said I had no standing since quit claiming home to her. My credit is being destroyed by her not keeping up payments. I notified the credit bureaus of the above,but they refuse to remove the negative info. Other than me burning the house to the ground when they are not there, can you offer any advise??????

  •     followsteph
    · March 11th, 2014  · 1:52 am  · Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    I would advise contacting a lawyer as you have a very special and specific case that goes beyond what anyone online can give you advice for. I suspect it will really depend on the details of how it was worded in the courts. And even then, you may need legal assistance to deal with the credit bureaus…

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