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Pump Up Your Credit Score

May 26, 2008
Almost everything in life can be translated into a number. You keep track of your favorite sports team's stats, the price per gallon for gas and maybe even your cholesterol if you're really vigilant. But a large number of people neglect to keep track of their credit score, which can be disastrous the next time you apply for a home mortgage or any other type of loan.

Your credit rating can mean the difference between getting a great deal on financing or even getting no financing at all. It is by far easier to maintain good credit than repair bad credit, but virtually every person's credit score can benefit from some simple tactics put into practice. But first and foremost you should get into the habit of checking your credit score and credit report once a year.

The three major credit reporting agencies are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion LLC. You can request a free credit report once every 12 months and should make a habit of it. That is the only way you can stay on top of any errors in your credit report. If you do find an error, you need to immediately contact the agencies. It can be a long and involved process to get something corrected, so it's vital to check your credit report and rating in advance of applying for a home mortgage or any other type of loan. Finding out that there are mistakes on your credit report after you've been turned down for a loan is a little too late if you need to close on a contract for a new home right away.

After you've checked your report, the next thing to do is concentrate on pumping up your credit score. Few, if any people have a perfect credit score, so there is always going to be room for improvement. And the number one thing you can do to accomplish that is to always pay your bills on time. And even if some unforeseen circumstance makes it unable for you to do so, then contact your creditor and let them know you're doing your best and make arrangements to pay a partial payment or delay payment for a few days. Most creditors are willing to work with you and would much rather know your intentions than not receive a payment and wonder.

Another good idea is to try and reduce the amount you owe on your credit cards. Most experts agree that you should owe only about 25 percent of your total credit card limit. Any balances higher than that will adversely impact your credit rating and score. That means that if you have credit cards with a combined credit limit of $10,000 then you should keep your total balances owed to no more than $2,500. Also, don't apply for more credit cards or close credit card accounts right before applying for a new home loan or mortgage. This also makes your credit history look a bit shaky.

If you follow these simple procedures, you can stay on top of your credit score and even raise it, which could mean lower interest rates and the difference between owning a home or not.

There are a lot of great deals and incentives right now on new constructions condos like the ones listed here http://www.bestchicagocondos.com/new-construction-condos/index.html and the recent credit crunch means that lenders will be more selective about offering home loans to buyers. Having a good credit score is something you'll need all throughout life. It would be not only dissapointing but could end up costing you thousands in high interest rates if your score is low or inaccurate. So just get into the habit of working on your credit score and it will pay off in the long run.
About the Author
Paula Cherrist writes about Chicago real estate for Best Chicago Condos.
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