Want the best interest rates? How about a higher credit limit? These things require having a great credit score! Here are 5 things you can do to makes yours as high as possible.
1. Keep different types of credit accounts.
There are four different types of credit accounts, listed in order of importance: real estate loans, installment loans, credit cards, and retail cards. Each one impacts your score differently.
Real estate loans are most important, and include your mortgage and any type of refinancing. Installment loans are next, and include things paid over a long period of time like car loans and student loans. At the bottom of the totem pole are credit cards and retail cards, which are more common and have less weight on your score (unless, of course, you have a mountain of debt on them).
For the best outcome, keep a healthy mixture of all four types of credit.
2. Don’t use more than 25% of your credit on any one card.
Many people think making a late payment is the only thing that dings their score when it comes to credit cards. This is not the case! In reality, the amount of your available credit that you’re using also plays a big role in your score.
A good rule of thumb is to use no more than 25% of your allotted limit on any one card. So, if you have a Visa with a credit limit of $1,000, you should aim for keeping your balance under $250 at all times. This will greatly improve your score.
3. Have no more than two hard inquiries a year.
There are two different kinds of credit inquiry: soft and hard ones. A soft inquiry is done by you or another individual for informational purposes, like checking your credit score for a job application or rental agreement. A hard inquiry is done when you’re applying for credit, be it in the form of a credit card or a loan.
Try to keep hard inquiries to under two per year. This shows the reporting bureaus that you’re not out in search of a ton of credit all at once, and will improve your score.
4. Don’t close old accounts.
One of the most common mistakes people working to improve their credit make is closing old cards once they’ve paid off the balance. Don’t do this! Your oldest accounts are your most valuable, showing a long credit history. Credit history accounts for about 15% of your credit score!
Besides, even if you close an account, the information associated with it doesn’t just disappear. Lenders can still see if you had a history of late payments, even if the account is closed.
5. Have a credit card from at least one major company.
This includes the household names like Visa, American Express, Discover and Mastercard. This can be difficult to do if you have bad credit, but should serve as a goal for the future. Having a card from one of these companies shows they trust you enough to extend credit to you.
By following these five tips consistently, you’ll be well on your way to an improved credit score and better finances all around.