There’s a virtual credit file with your name on it! When it comes time to take out a mortgage, that file gets opened and the result is a credit score that will help determine whether and how much you can borrow and at what rate.
The good news is that you are entirely in control of your own credit score. Even if your past credit history has been bumpy, there are steps you can take to increase your score: showing lenders that you are a good risk and worthy of their best rates. Here are a few important tips:
- Never let a bill get past due. This is the single biggest factor in your credit score: paying your bills on time. Set up automatic payments if you can or keep a careful calendar. This one habit carries the most weight when it comes to your credit score so be sure to take it seriously.
- Create your own credit limits. If the credit card company gives you a credit limit of $10,000, create your own limit of $3000: or no more than 30% of the available funds. Have more than one credit facility? Balance them out. It’s better to be at 30% on three cards than have one at the limit and two that are never used. You want to show that you are using your credit but using it wisely.
- If you are getting too close to your limit, pay more than the minimum every month and work towards clearing off your balance entirely. Having your credit limits increased can help if that doesn’t cause additional spending.
- Keep that history. Make sure you do have a credit history. You may have a low score because you do not have a record of owing money and paying it back. Since history is important, you don’t want to cancel a card and lose that history. The longer you’ve had a card, the clearer the picture is of how you manage your debt. If you feel you really need to cancel a card, get advice first.
- Never ever let a bill go to collections. This can be a tough one if you’re short of money or a bill is under dispute. But a bill that is sent to collections is – next to bankruptcy – one of the blackest marks on your good credit name. If you’re having trouble paying, talk to the creditor about a negotiated payment plan.
- Be selective. Applying too frequently for credit has a negative impact on your score. A raft of cards looks like you’re an out-of-control spender and not a good credit risk. So when you’re asked – would you like to apply for our Store Card to save on your purchase – just say no; the high rate that goes with that card isn`t worth your savings on that particular purchase.
Get in touch if you want to discuss taking control of your credit score. If you need to get a mortgage while you’re still working on improving your score, I can also advise how that may be possible. I do this all the time and am here to help!