Credit scores can seem intimidating, but a simple mindset adjustment could put you on track for the FICO of your dreams.
Instead of feeling embarrassed by a low score or a few missed payments in the past, why not think of your credit score as a game you’re playing to win? It won’t happen overnight, but most people will see improvements within a few short months.
1. Review your credit reports (and fix errors)
The first step is finding out where you stand. You can review free copies of your reports once a year through the bureaus themselves (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) or by visiting annualcreditreport.com. If you find any errors, you can dispute them using online tools or by sending a letter to the credit bureau.
If you have other derogatory marks such as collections, judgments, or late payments, it’s worth your time to try to get them removed. Often, you can work with your creditor to come to a resolution. Then, if you ask nicely, they will often remove the mark on their end.
2. Increase credit limits
Five main factors determine your FICO score, and credit utilization is one of them. It's best to use less than 50% of the credit available to you.
For example, let’s say you have a card with a $2,000 limit. If you have $1,200 in charges, you’ve exceeded that 50% limit. But if you can increase your limit to $4,000 on that same card, you’ll be back within the utilization ratio.
Note: If you're actively shopping for a home, its best to avoid increasing your credit line or opening new lines of credit until after the process is complete. Work carefully with your Castle & Cooke Mortgage loan officer before making any changes to your credit profile.
3. Pay off high-interest cards
Age of credit is another factor that goes into your FICO score, so it’s not necessarily a good idea to close old accounts. Instead, focus on paying off newer high-interest cards first. This tactic will boost your score while saving you on high interest charges.
4. Pay your bills on time
The best way to prove you are responsible with credit is to pay every bill on time going forward. Budgeting apps can help you keep track of where your money’s going, and automatic payments can help you stay on track.
Our CFO Scott Gonzalez also recommends budgeting monthly, making a short-term plan, and paying yourself first (whether that means building a savings account or paying down debt). You should also give yourself permission to spend, he said, and even a little wiggle room.
Contact Your loan officer
Your Castle & Cooke Mortgage loan officer can help you figure out how to win the FICO game* and earn a home of your own. Give them a call today to find out what FICO you need to qualify for a home loan, how much you need in a savings account, and the types of loans that might be suitable for your situation.
*Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC, does not offer credit repair. Consult a credit repair specialist or www.annualcreditreport.com.