We all have different views about “credit”, some of us are comfortable obtaining goods before payment, while some of us can’t sleep at night thinking about how much of our future income will go to our payables.
I personally enjoy the credit basis especially when payday is days away, and that much-awaited item is already on sale! There are those big projects, like a house or car, that would require a big cut on savings, and having it on loan is an affordable way to finance such a large expense.
What is a credit score?
So what is a credit score? A credit score is a numerical expression based on a level of analysis of a person’s credit files to represent the creditworthiness of an individual. It is primarily based on a credit report, information typically sourced from credit bureaus.
Let’s take a look at some of the major factors that affect one’s credit score…
- Payment History
- Credit Utilization
- Length of Credit History
- New Credit
- Credit Mix
How long does it take for a credit score to update after paying off debt?
There’s no definite timeline. Credit reports are not updated in real-time but are dependent on the lenders and the three major credit bureaus TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian, all of which also differ in timing.
Credit card companies and loan providers may send credit reports daily, monthly, or weekly and may report to one credit bureau or all three. Considering that there are different reporting timelines for each, it is difficult to predict when the changes will appear. You may check with your individual creditor to confirm information that will aid you in settling your accounts.
The processing of information may also vary, resulting in updates to appear more quickly or slowly than others. In case of errors, the bureau still has to verify the information before it can appear on your record. Any changes made to your credit report will surely affect your credit score.
How to improve your credit score?
Observing ideal financial practices such as paying your bills on time and keeping a low credit card balance can highly improve your credit score. Experts recommend a credit utilization rate of 30 percent less so you can remain in good standing.
For example, in case of negative points on your credit report, you can pay off a large balance before the closing date of your credit card statement, improving your credit utilization rate. Here are some detailed ways on how to improve your credit score.
1. Review your Credit Reports
It is important to ensure that your credit report is error-free. Any errors must be immediately reported to the creditor especially that it can impact your credit score. Ensure that the report has no signs of fraud and only accurate information is detailed on your file.
In case of an error, you can dispute the mistake by talking to the creditor and have it removed straight away. Once the bureau verifies and deletes it from your report, it will impact your score positively.
2. Pay your bills on-time
Being responsible with credit builds a good impression on lenders. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit report and is the most influential factor.
Late payments can harm your credit but avoiding them by having a reliable budget-monitoring system, or automatic bill payment may be helpful to exhibit that you can manage your finances.
3. Keep your Credit Utilization low
Credit utilization shows how much of your available credit limit you use. This is the second most important factor. If you pay your credit card balances and lower your credit utilization rate, it can improve your credit score.
As mentioned, credit reports don’t update in real-time, thus paying your credit balance early will also help your credit score.
You can also opt for a credit limit increase. Note that the credit-limit must be the one to increase and not your balance.
4. Lengthen your Credit history
The length of credit accounts for 15% of your credit score. The older the account, the more favorable it will appear to the creditors. The average age of your accounts can determine how you handled debts in the past. Having a limited credit history might not be beneficial.
Also, don’t close old credit accounts, even those that are no longer in use. Closing credit cards while having a balance on other cards will still appear on your credit report and will just negatively affect your credit utilization ratio, then your credit score.
5. Know when to apply for a new account
Don’t rush into applying to new or even multiple credit accounts, especially if you aren’t likely sure of its approval. Applying for a new credit account will result in a hard inquiry that may lower your score temporarily. A lowered credit score and a denied application would really hurt your credit history.
What debt should I pay off first to raise my credit score?
Managing finances is challenging, but there are smart ways on how to do it. Determining which debts to pay first and which debts can be settled later will help facilitate your cash and credit flow without compromising your credit score.
Start with your Credit Card
Having a credit card is convenient and accessible, but each swipe comes with increased interest to pay.
Paying off credit card balances first can save you a lot of money on interest rates. If you have multiple credit cards, choose that one with the highest interest first.
Also, keeping in mind that the balance on a credit card must be kept low is a healthy reminder in achieving a high credit score. A win-win situation, right?
Start with Small Balances
Now that we’re onto paying off debts, it’s important to record all credit card debts from smallest to largest. Once the smallest balance is paid, you can move on to the next, and so on.
Consider the “Debt Snowball” method. With this approach to debt reduction, you can see changes and accomplishments making you more motivated to keep going. Keep in mind, that there are still minimum payments that must be paid on other accounts to avoid fees and late payment charges that could lead to a lowered credit score.
Seeing progress is very important, so you can see and feel that something works for you and you are doing it right!
Knowing the risks of having credit and the facts that must be considered behind maintaining a healthy financial status while you are in debt are equally important.
Being responsible for handling credit cards, loans, and making on-time payments, and observing good credit habits will eventually lead to an accomplished life goal of being debt-free.
If we know how much debt is too much, it will help identify realistic goals and establish ideal financial actions. The question is, are you creditworthy?