3 Tips to Improve your Credit Score6/17/2019 by Kira Hovancik
When you are trying to buy a house, or make any big financial purchase in your life, your credit score comes into play and plays a huge factor on interest rates, approval for grants, and many other qualifying factors.
One app has truly changed my life when it comes to adulting.
No, it’s not a social media app! If you haven’t heard of Credit Karma, or you don’t have Credit Karma on your phone, then you need to download it right now. This blog post can wait, so go do it now. But do come back of course to finish reading!
Credit Karma is 100% free to download and free to use. This post is in no way sponsored by them, it’s just that with Credit Karma, I can truly say that the smart financial decisions I have made this year are all in thanks to Credit Karma for having my back when it comes to my credit health.
Once you download and enter in all your personal information, you will be able to see your TransUnion score and your Equifax score. Make sure all the information listed and all the accounts are correct. Be thorough when checking over all your accounts, and, if you see something that isn’t correct, make sure you notify them in the app.
If you want more information about the difference between TransUnion, Equifax, and more credit help, check out Credit Karma’s Youtube channel for helpful videos! Credit Karma helped me fully understand what my credit entails and how all my credit cards, student loans, my car loan affect my credit score. As we mature, the more important your credit score plays a role in making those big financial life decisions.
If you are thinking of owning your own home in the near, or distant future, check out our blog post about Home Buying 101 for lots of great tips on how to start your mobile home buying journey.
Growing up, I learned from my parents’ scolding me about how to not spend all my hard earned money from my two jobs at the time, but I didn’t learn what credit really meant until I got older and saw with my own eyes.
If I had credit karma when I first opened up a bank account and got my first credit card, I would have been able to see the damage from my one-day shopping spree in NYC (still have those Steve Madden boots, though so, worth it?). That summer spending spree after my freshman year of college would have some serious effect on my savings account that, in the end, did not teach me very much about credit.
Low credit utilization
Credit Karma defines credit utilization as, “Your total credit balance divided by credit availability. In other words, your credit utilization rate is a percentage that represents how much you use your credit. For optimum credit health, this percentage should remain under 30% of your total credit limits at all times.”
This is a great definition of credit utilization and practice to follow for your own credit health! Anything under 30% credit utilization is considered excellent and can help positively boost your credit score. Lenders want to see that you can use credit wisely and how well you manage credit. The higher your credit utilization score, the higher of a risk you appear to lenders which is not good when you are looking to buy a new home, car or any large purchase where you might need a loan.
Keep old cards open
A popular credit card myth is closing your old credit cards or cards that you are no longer using anymore. Keeping your older cards open keeps your credit limit higher than if you closed all the cards you decided you didn’t need anymore or weren’t going to use in the future. Leaving those cards open with a zero balance is good for your credit health and helps with credit utilization as long as you keep their balance at zero and don’t give in to the temptation to spend more because you have a higher credit limit.
However, if your card has an annual fee and you are not going to use it anymore, you might be better off closing that card.
Becoming an authorized user
One organic way to boost your credit score over time is becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. Now there are a couple of things you need to know before you start asking people in your life to be added to their credit card! Also, please don’t ask a stranger to do this for you, that is not a good idea at all.
When becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card here are the guidelines you should follow for success.
- Ask to be added as an authorized user on someone’s credit card who you trust completely. This should not be a friend you just recently reconnected with after college at your local coffee shop.
- Think of your immediate family members or very, very close family-friends who you are in communication with regularly.
- Keep in mind that this person can 100% say no just as if the roles were reversed and someone asked you if they could be an authorized user on your credit card.
- When asking a family member to add you as an authorized user on their credit card, present all the facts to them so they are clear on the process and why you are asking them for help with your credit.
- Your family member should add you as an authorized user to their longest standing credit card with the best payment history.
- Your family members credit card should not have any missed or late payments, and if possible, have a zero to low credit card balance.
The reason you want the longest standing credit card with on-time payment history and a zero to low balance is that all those years that the credit card has been in use and paid off on time, all that positive data will transfer over to your credit score when you become an authorized user. Authorized users on credit cards are obviously not the primary cardholders and therefore not responsible to make payments on that credit card.
Being added as an authorized user on a family member's credit card won’t drastically change your credit score, but it will help your score organically grow over-time as long as that card stays open, and payments to that card are made on time.