We have developed eight effective strategies for preventing mistakes on your credit report. We wish you much success.
1) Beware Of Debts & Credit You Don’t Use
Just as it is very easy to apply for a store credit card, it is also easy to forget you have it. It is important to remember that the account will remain on your report and affect your score as long as it is open. Don’t make the mistake of having credit lines and cards you don’t need. It makes you look riskier from a lender’s point of view.
Also, having many accounts you don’t use increases the odds that you will forget about an old account and stop making payments on it, resulting in a lowered credit score. Keep only the accounts you use regularly and consider closing your other accounts. Having fewer accounts will make it easier for you to keep track of your debts and will increase the chances of you having a good credit score.
However, realize that when you close an account, the record of the closed account remains on your credit report and can affect your credit score for some time. In fact, closing unused credit accounts may actually cause your credit score to drop in the short-term, as you will have higher credit balances spread out over a smaller overall credit account base.
For example, if your unused credit limits amount to $2,000, and your regularly used accounts also have a credit limit of $2,000, you have $4,000 of available credit. If you close your unused accounts and owe $1,000 on the accounts you use regularly, you have gone from using one-fourth of your credit ($1,000 owed on a possible $4,000) to using one-half of your credit ($1,000 from a possible $2,000). This will actually cause your credit risk rating to drop. In the long term, though, not having extra temptation to charge, and not having credit you don’t need will help you budget.
2) Avoid Having Many Credit Report Inquiries
An inquiry is noted every time someone looks at your credit report. Don’t make the mistake of allowing too many inquiries on your credit report, as it may appear that you have been rejected by multiple lenders. This means that you should be careful about who looks at it. If you are shopping for a loan (finding the lowest interest rate based on your credit), shop around within a short period of time, as inquiries made within a few days of each other will generally be lumped together and counted as one inquiry.
You can also cut down the number of inquiries on your account by approaching lenders you have already researched and are interested in doing business with. By researching first, and approaching second, you will likely have only a few lenders accessing your credit report at the same time, which can help save your credit score.
3) Don’t Mistakenly Over-Use Online Loan Rate Comparisons
Online loan rate quotes are easy to obtain. Just type in some personal information and within seconds you can receive a quote on your car loan, personal loan, student loan, or mortgage. This is free and convenient, leading many people to compare several companies at once in order to get the best possible loan rate. The problem is that since online quotes are a fairly recent phenomenon, credit bureaus count each quote as an inquiry. This means that if you compare too many companies online, your credit score will suffer.
This does not mean you shouldn’t seek online quotes for loan. In fact, online loan quotes are a great resource that can help you get the very best rates on your next loan. It just means that you should carefully research companies and narrow down your choices to only a few lenders before making inquiries. This will help ensure that the number of inquires on your credit report is small, and your score will remain strong.
4) Don’t Make The Mistake Of Thinking You Only Have One Credit Report
Most people mistakenly speak of having a “credit score” when in fact credit reports often include three or more credit scores. There are three major credit bureaus in the United States that develop credit reports and calculate credit scores, as well as a number of smaller credit bureau companies. In addition, some larger lenders calculate their own credit risk score based on information in your credit report. When improving your credit report, you should not focus on one number. You should contact the three major credit bureaus and work on improving all three credit scores.
5) Don’t Close Multiple Credit Accounts
Many people make the mistake of closing multiple credit accounts in an effort to improve their credit score. If you close an account you need (for example, if you close all your credit card accounts), then you may find yourself in the position where you need to reapply for credit. Not only is this inconvenient, but the inquiries from credit companies can actually hurt your credit report. Additionally, credit bureaus will actually look favorably upon your credit report if they can see that you have a (good) long-term credit history. For example, don’t make the mistake of closing a credit card account you have had for the past 10 years, as this may actually hurt your credit report.
lf you have credit accounts that you don’t use, or if you have too many credit lines, then, by all means, pay off some and close them. Doing so may help your credit score, as long as you don’t close long-term accounts you need. In general, close your newest accounts first, and only when you are certain you will not need that credit in the near future.
Closing your accounts is a bad idea if:
A) You will be applying for a loan soon. The closing of your accounts will make your score drop in the short-term and will not allow you to qualify for good loan rates.
B) Your debt to credit ratio increases. For example, you owe $10,000 now and have access to an extra $5,000. However, after closing some accounts you are only left with $1,000. This brings you closer to maxing out your credit and in turn hurts your report.
6) Don’t Assume Only One Action Will Improve Your Credit Report
An example of a common mistake that some debtors make is believing that paying off a credit card bill will boost their score by 50 points, while closing an unused credit account will result in 20 more points. Improving your credit report is certainly not this simple. How much any one action will affect your credit score is impossible to gauge. It will depend on multiple factors, including your current credit score, and which credit bureau is calculating it. In general, the higher your credit score, the more small factors – such as one unpaid bill – will affect you. When repairing the score on your credit report, you should not equate specific credit repair actions with numbers. The idea is to do as many things as you can to improve your credit report.
7) Having No Loans & No Debt Will Not Improve Your Credit Report
Some people make the mistake of believing that owing no money, having no credit cards, and avoiding the whole world of credit will help improve the score on their credit report. In reality, the opposite is true. Lenders want to know about your past ability to handle credit, and the only way they can tell is by the score on your credit report. Having no credit at all can actually be worse for your credit score than having a few credit accounts that you pay off on time. If you currently have no credit accounts at all, opening a low balance credit card can actually boost your credit score.
Think of your credit report like a basketball game. The player who scores many points in every game is considered to be a great player, and will receive higher financial rewards than those who only score a few points. Those who don’t even play basketball have no scores to “report” to the game officials. In the world of credit reports, the debtor who scores the most points is someone who pays off their credit accounts every month. They will receive financial rewards through easier access to loans and lower interest rates, while those who have no credit accounts have a very low credit score.
8) Never Do Anything Illegal To Repair Your Credit Report
It seems pretty obvious, but plenty of people make the mistake of lying about their credit score or even falsifying their loan applications because they are ashamed of a bad score. Not only is this illegal, but it is also completely ineffective at repairing your credit report. Your credit score is easy to check and, not only will you not fool lenders by lying on your credit report, but you may actually face legal action as a result of your dishonesty.
We encourage you to seek professional one-on-one guidance. Whether that be from the personal accounts specialist at your local bank, or from a lawyer, we want to point you in the direction of what is best for you.
To your success,
Blue Whale Credit