I am not sure if you know how much your credit score can affect everything you do in life. If you have poor credit it can make purchasing things from a lender darn right difficult. That’s why we are going to learn what it takes to improve your credit score.
Will someone, please raise your hand if you learned anything about how to build or improve credit back in grade school. I know I definitely did not. However, I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that educated me on credit usage and helped me with the first steps to being a creditworthy adult. It has taken some time, but I finally hit 808 and am now part of the 800 credit score club.
The first way that I began my credit journey was by becoming an authorized user on one of my parent’s credit cards. By doing this, I learned the fundamentals of responsible credit use, specifically making on-time payments and avoiding debt on the card.
Second, once I turned 18 I applied and was approved for a Student Credit Card. Student Credit Cards are unique in that they provide financial education, better support, and payment alerts. They are designed to help students get started off in the right direction with their credit.
I have always been the kind of person who gets a rush when looking at my credit report. I know, sounds like a pretty boring thing to get excited over! I like to examine the different sections and think of ways that I can improve my credit score.
I get a kick out of seeing it raise just a single digit. I always knew that having good credit would benefit me in various ways throughout my adulthood.
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What is a credit score?
Your credit score is a very important number that determines your creditworthiness or the likelihood you will repay borrowed money. A credit score is a three-digit number that you begin being evaluated for once you are 18 years old. Credit scores typically range from 300-850, and there are 5 categories, ranging from bad to excellent.
Anything that is over 700 is considered to be good by most lenders. However, shooting for the “800 credit club” gives you bragging rights and it says a lot about your ability to manage money.
Excellent 750- and higher
Bad 600 below
How is your credit score calculated?
There are 5 different factors that are used to determine your credit score.
Payment history, total credit owed, length of credit history, new credit/new credit inquiries and types of credit used. Each of these factors helps the potential lender to figure out how financially capable you are. People who have good credit know just how much their credit score can affect their lives and they do everything in their power to keep it in good standing.
Unless you are made of money, good credit takes work and discipline. Making the payments on time and maintaining a reasonable balance can be tougher than you think. Anyone with a good credit score knows this.
Why is your credit score so important?
As you can tell there are many factors that come into play when determining your credit score. Having good credit makes financing things so much easier because you are able to get the best interest rates and don’t have to worry about being denied for a loan.
Those who have good credit also get the best offers. They receive low premiums for car insurances and are able to qualify for credit cards that offer 0% promotional rates on purchases and balance transfers.
What is the 800 credit score club?
First of all, this isn’t some sort of club that only the rich can get into. In fact, anyone who manages their credit and money properly can land themselves in this club. However, this isn’t something that will happen overnight. As of April 2017, the percentage of credit scores over 800 was 20.7%
For most people, the 800 credit club is considered to be a pretty good accomplishment to reach. Achieving the 800 range proves you are a financially responsible adult. You will experience less haggling when trying to purchase something on credit because you have the respect and trust of the lenders.
5 Ways to improve your credit score to 800
To increase your credit score fast you will need to work on these five areas. Payment history, total credit owed, length of credit history, new credit, new credit inquiries, and types of credit used.
1. Payment history
Make it a goal to pay at least your minimum payment each month. This is an essential part of maintaining good credit. Be sure to not leverage too much credit to the point you can’t make these minimum payments.
2. Total credit owed
This is a bit of a balancing game. You want to have a credit card and use it, yet you don’t want to spend too much on that credit card. It is recommended that you use only around 20%-30% of your total card limit. If you have been using $5000 of credit and your max credit limit for all your credit cards is $20,000 you are at 25% of credit utilization. ($5,000 divided by $20,000)
3. Length of credit history
In general the longer you have an account open the better that is for your credit. If you are considering to close a credit account take a moment to think about what account would be the best to close. Ideally, you should pick the account to close based on the length of time the account has been open.
If you are curious to find out how long an account has been open there is a free and easy way to check this. Pull your credit at Credit Sesame.
4. New credit accounts or credit inquiries
“Hard inquiries” generally occur every single time you apply for any sort of credit such as a new credit card, a mortgage or a car loan. These inquiries can stay on your report for two years. You want to minimize the number of inquiries you have in a given time period.
Be mindful when you are applying for a new line of credit because each inquiry affects your credit score. Many people say if you are going to apply for a mortgage loan it is not in your best interest to purchase another large item such as a car in the same timeframe. First, let your mortgage loan go through then spend some time looking into purchasing your new car. Try to space your credit inquiries out if possible.
5. Types of credit
This is where creditors want to see your diversification. They don’t want to see you with 10 department store credit cards to your favorite clothing stores. They want to see a balanced portfolio of credit use. Maintaining a balanced portfolio can do a lot for your credit. Consider diversifying your credit if it’s all tied up in one area.
Head over to our Obliterate Debt series for ways to crush your debt
800 credit score benefits
There are definitely benefits to having the highest credit score you can get. Even if you aren’t able to reach a perfect score of 850. Being in the 800 credit club is quite an accomplishment.
I understand that chasing the perfect credit score isn’t for everyone and perhaps you have to be a little bit of a finance nerd to get excited over it. But it really can make a big difference in the opportunities that are available to you.
A person with a score in 800’s will have little difficulties qualifying for the best interest rates. They will also receive better offers on credit cards and higher limits on those cards. This translates to more money in your pocket. Interest over the course of a mortgage can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Knocking just 1% off your rate through good credit puts a ton of cash in your pocket
Anyone who has an 800 score will qualify for the most competitive mortgage loans easily. This is a great graph showing you how different credit scores affect your interest rates. You will see that you can save a whopping $300 a month just by having good credit. I am sure you can find something much more exciting to spend $3600 a year on than your mortgage payment. It truly does pay off in the long run to have a good credit score.
If you need more motivational tidbits of why striving for a good credit score can benefit you, check out this article on3 ways to capitalize on 800 credit scores.
Improving your credit score is possible. It’s not something that will happen overnight but if you put your mind to it I know you can do it.
If you are one of those people who doesn’t really know where to start and feels a bit overwhelmed. Start with some basics, review your credit card for errors, make your payments on time, and focus on paying down your balances as much as you possibly can.
Our site is full of easy ways to trim spending which can all have a huge impact on getting your debt paid down.
I’m interested, tell me why you want to improve your credit score? Do you have the desire to reach a perfect score – why or why not?