Q: How Do I Obtain Credit So I Can Use It Wisely To Increase My Credit Scores? My Scores Now Range From 580 to 620.
A: Improving your credit scores takes time; but not as much time as most people think.
Your message indicated that you are starting to negotiate with creditors, get rid of hospital debt, and start a savings plan to automatically deduct money from your paycheck every two weeks.
Those are all smart financial moves that will help you. To further boost your credit, try these additional four strategies:
Strategy #1: only apply for credit if you absolutely need it
Anytime you open new loan accounts – i.e. credit cards, auto loans, etc. – an inquiry goes on your credit report and can lower your FICO credit score.
Stay away from department store credit cards and other offers for credit that you really don’t need. An inquiry stays on your credit report for two years, and it counts against your FICO score for 12 months.
Strategy #2: Start tracking your recurring bills
Even if you don’t have traditional forms of credit like an auto loan or a mortgage, you can start to demonstrate credit-worthiness and build your credit rating by tracking those non-traditional monthly bills that you do have.
Examples might be: rental payments or payments to utility companies. Track these through Payment Reporting Builds Credit (http://www.prbc.com). This is a way to build your credit without taking out additional debt.
Strategy #3: Get a secured card
If your credit scores are low because of multiple past problems, like charge-offs, collection activity or mismanagement of credit cards, consider getting a secured card. These will have small credit lines, say of just $500 or so. And you’ll have to put up into an account an amount equal to your credit line.
But if you manage this wisely, it will help you build credit. Secured cards are a good way to re-build your credit history or bounce back after previous bad credit.
Strategy #4: Pay all bills on time
The biggest part of your credit score (35% of it) is based solely on your payment track record. So perhaps the top thing you can do to enhance your credit rating is to simply pay what you owe on time, every single month. Don’t miss any payments just because you consider them to be “small” or “unimportant” bills. If they’re credit accounts in any way – such as a cell phone – they can come back to haunt you if they go unpaid.
Again, improving one’s credit takes time. After all, you credit scores didn’t get where they are overnight. But with diligent effort and some savvy financial moves, you can boost those FICO credit scores, and keep your sanity in the process.