It’s that time -- it seems like everyone you know is settling down, buying a house and having kids. And that’s not actually surprising -- 21% of millennials are expected to buy a home in the next two years.
If you’re a part of that 21%, it’s time to check your credit score. Credit scores are a major factor in determining if you’ll be able to get a mortgage, and what interest rate you will qualify for. Better scores mean lower rates, which subsequently reduce your monthly payment and the amount of interest you have to pay in the long run.
As you prepare for this major life moment, we encourage each of you to consider the following tips.
1. Check Your Credit Report, and Look for Errors
For a small fee (or for free once per year), you can pull your credit report for all three of the major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to the Federal Trade Commission, about 20% of people have an error on their credit report and 25% of those errors significantly affect their score. Rectifying those errors is a quick way to up your score.
Credit bureaus are required to respond within thirty days, so, if you find an error, make sure to dispute it right away.
2. Past Due Payments? Catch Up.
This seems obvious, but it is a critical step in improving your score. A person’s payment history has the single biggest influence on their credit score.
If you fall behind, contact the creditor and work out a payment arrangement--oftentimes, companies are happy to help as long as you’re making an effort to keep up-to-date. Also, ask the creditor to rescind any reported delinquencies, so they no longer appear. If you don’t ask, they can’t say yes.
3. Stay Well Under Your Credit Limit
Your credit score takes into consideration how much of your available credit you’re using. This “utilization” has a significant impact on your score. As a general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to keep your total credit utilization rate below 30%.
Obviously, it’s best to pay off debt, but if you’re not able to, consider the following:
Ask for a limit increase-- this instantly reduces your utilization rate. But be sure to ask for this increase without a “hard” credit inquiry, as this inquiry can drop your score a few points.
Pay off cards with high utilization. The first reaction is to pay off those big balances, but sometimes it makes more sense to pay off smaller cards with higher percentage utilization.
Debt consolidation can reduce or eliminate card balances, which may in turn, reduce your utilization.
At PLR, we believe that everyone's insurance needs are not the same. Because of that, our approach to insurance begins with a conversation; we want to learn about you--your life, your home, your needs. We use that information and our expertise to match you with the policy that gives you the coverage and peace of mind you need, without busting your bank account.
If you are ready to start the conversation, you can get in touch with us here.