It is no secret that a good credit history is something we all strive to maintain and is especially important when applying for a mortgage. There are practices, which you want to make sure you are doing, and mistakes to avoid. Following these simple tips will help ensure that your credit stays in tiptop shape.
1. Pay all of your bills by their due dates. Your payment history is a major factor the credit agencies look at when calculating your score. Any late payments will have to be explained satisfactorily when applying for your loan.
2. Make sure your credit is protected. It is vital to practice good credit security. This means all of your credit cards are signed, you review your accounts regularly for any fraudulent activity and you shred all of you credit card statements before disposing of them.
3. Make sure you review your credit report at least once a year. There are many free websites that you can use. You want to ensure there is no fraudulent activity or other errors in reporting. You will want to check your report again a few months prior to applying for a mortgage so you are aware of any issues you may need to rectify.
4. Mind your alerts! All credit cards have automatic alerts that tell you when a purchase has been made and when payments are due, these are great tools to help you maintain great credit. You can also set up automatic payments as well.
5. Make history. You need credit history to create a credit report, so if you don’t have a credit card, get one but make sure you make timely payments on it. In fact get more than one, use them and pay them and you will build a credit profile.
6. Thin your accounts. If you have a lot of creditors on you report that have been dormant for a while you can close the accounts, however leave the older accounts open. Credit agencies look at longevity as a positive factor.
7. Do not open multiple accounts at the same time. Every time you apply for credit it will cost you points on your report. If you are ready to apply for a mortgage or currently in the approval process, you definitely do not want to apply for any new credit!
8. Call your lenders! Ask your creditors if they will raise your credit limits and if they will lower your interest rates. A higher credit limit will improve your score and a lower interest rate will help you pay off debt more quickly.
9. Beware of balance transfers. While a balance transfer may seem like a perfectly reasonable way to manage your credit, do not do it. It is better for your credit score to have a few small balances spread among a few accounts than to have one large balance on one account.
10. Have a plan! Have a plan that will pay your debt down quickly. If you are able to pay off your balances each month you should. If not, at least try paying more than the minimum or make more than one payment per month. When prioritizing accounts pay off the ones with the higher interest rates.
STAY TUNED TO NEXT WEEK’S POST FOR THE MOST IMPORTANT CREDIT STRATEGY TO ENGAGE IN TO KEEP YOUR SCORES AT THEIR HIGHEST!
Amy Tierce of Newton is regional vice president for Wintrust Mortgage, a mortgage company with branches in MetroWest. She can be reached by phone: 617-308-4870, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and online: www.amyrates.com – NMLS #15695.