The following post originally appeared on our RoadLoans blog, The Open Road.
They are two of the most nerve-wracking words in the language to many consumers.
It’s no secret that your credit score may have a dramatic effect on car loan interest rates and payments for any financing on a new vehicle. While a dinged or low credit score may leave you feeling helpless, there are ways out of the morass, according to credit experts.
It’ll take commitment and discipline, but the payoff may result in an improvement in your credit score – which could result in a brighter interest rate and payment picture when you do finance a purchase.
“Tens of millions of people in the United States have credit blemishes severe enough (and FICO credit scores under 620) to make obtaining loans and credit cards with reasonable terms difficult,” writes Liz Pulliam Weston in “9 fast fixes for your credit score” at msn.com.
“Unfortunately, there’s no one magic trick that can pump up your score by a certain number of points,” writes Laura Adams, the “Money Girl” in an article “8 Tips to Raise Your Score Quickly” at quickanddirtytips.com. “Everyone’s situation is different and there are just too many variables that come into play. But don’t worry, increasing your credit doesn’t have to be difficult or take a decade.”
Pulliam Weston, Adams, Dana Dratch (“7 simple ways to improve your credit score”) at Bankrate.com, as well as others provide useful tips, on improving you credit score as quickly as possible.
Among the most frequent and effective suggestions:
Pay your bills on time. “One of the biggest ingredients in a good credit score is simply month after month of plain vanilla on-time payments,” writes Dratch at Bankrate.com. And if you have overdue bills get them caught up as soon as possible, say most experts.
Pay down your credit card balances. “Reducing the overall debt that’s on your credit report is a very effective way to jack up your credit score,” according to Adams.
Never max out your credit cards. “A good rule of thumb is to keep your balances below 30 percent of your credit limit,” The Money Girl also advises.
Don’t close unused credit card accounts. Canceling a card can actually lower your score. A better strategy is to occasionally use your older credit cards so the issuer doesn’t stop reporting your information to the credit bureaus, according to Pulliam Weston.
Review your credit report. A universal rule, experts recommend taking the time to clear up any errors, such as incorrect credit limits, late payments, etc., at the three major reporting agencies. “Be sure your credit report is accurate,” says RoadLoans.com. “Mistakes should be corrected immediately.”
For more information on understanding your credit score, visit any of the links in this blog post.