Your credit score is not something you can instantly fix and then see immediate results. Credit scores are like your driving record with all of your past mistakes clearly visible. The credit bureaus take into account years of past behavior, not just your present actions. Many negative or bad marks could stay on your credit history for up to 7 or 10 years and affect your credit score.
In addition to making the right decisions, you also have to be consistent. A few easy steps can push your score in the right direction. We’ll share some tips and advice that could help you manage your credit and hopefully help increase your credit score.
- Set your financial goals first and then plan your big purchases ahead of time.
- Figure out if you can really afford it BEFORE you buy it.
- Don’t buy it and then worry about how you’ll pay for it later.
- Track your credit expenses and spending habits.
- Rubber band a piece of paper around your credit cards. Write down the amount you charge every time you use the card and total the balance.
- Plan your credit expenses into your budget so you can afford to pay off the bill in full every month.
- Keep your eyes on your credit account terms. Don’t use credit cards with really high interest rates. It’s not worth it.
- Know your interest rates, due dates, late fee amounts and over the limit fees.
- If you’re not able to pay the balance in full, pay more than the minimum payment. Even if it’s only $10 or $20 more than the minimum payment. It will make a difference.
- Pay attention to any annual fees you may have. Some credit cards like AMEX Gold will charge you an annual fee even if you don’t use the credit card.
- Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees. If you bank online, set up automatic payments or reminders so you never forget a due date.
- Only charge disposable items if you will pay the bill in full every month. For example: gas, groceries, toiletries, take out, etc.
- Look at your credit report several times a year. If there is an error, make sure you report it to the major credit bureaus.
There is no “quick fix” when it comes to rebuilding credit. This is a process that takes time, effort and discipline. Avoid people and companies who tell you that they can help you rebuild your credit in a short amount of time. It can take up to two years to rebuild your credit to a point that you are not denied a major credit card. It can be even longer than that to be able to qualify for a mortgage with a competitive interest rate.
If you follow this advice then you are on the right path to rebuilding your credit history and making sure it stays in good standing for the future. It will take some time and you must be patient. If you are in debt now and need help with your personal finances, give Advantage CCS a call today. Our certified credit counselors are here to help you.