Your credit score is one of those mysterious statistics that you hear people talk about, but don’t really pay much attention to until you actually need it. That’s when you find out that you’ve been creating a credit history for as long as you’ve been an adult and have had bills to pay. For some, that discovery is positive – but for others, it’s reason for regret.
If you’ve been paying your bills on time and building up a solid history then you likely have a strong credit score that makes it possible for you to borrow significant amounts of money. If you’ve been late in your bill payments, then your credit history will reflect that in a negative way and work against you.
If you’re not aware of how much of an impact a higher credit score can have on your quality of life, consider the following:
1. Qualifying for a good rate on a personal loan is easier with a high credit score
There are plenty of reasons why you might need a personal loan, and if you’ve been seeing promotions advertising low rates then you know that now’s a good time to apply for one. The higher your credit score, the more chance there is that you’ll qualify for the low rates that you’re seeing – and that you’ll qualify to take out a loan. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for those whose credit history is subpar.
2. The best mortgage rates go to those with the best credit scores.
Mortgage rates are historically low right now, so if you’ve been considering home ownership, now is the time. But those headline-grabbing rates aren’t for everybody. If your credit score has suffered as a result of poor payment history, you’re going to find yourself paying a higher interest rate, and that translates into a lot of money over the course of a 30-year loan.
3. Homeowners with strong credit scores can refinance and save money
Because interest rates are so low, there’s a good chance that homeowners with existing loans can lower their monthly rates by refinancing. Those with the best credit ratings qualify for the lowest rates, and therefore save the most cash each month.
4. Solid credit earns solid credit card offers
Whether an offer is found online or it shows up in the mail, those big cash-back benefits, application bonuses and 0% interest rates are only available to those with the best credit scores.
5. A high credit score facilitates home rental
A top credit score can help you into a home in more ways than one. Though renting a home is not as big a financial commitment, it still requires providing significant documentation proving your ability to pay, and the higher your credit score the better the home you will qualify to rent.
If your credit isn’t where you want it to be, take heart – there are several steps you can take to give it a boost and give yourself a better chance of taking advantage of the benefits listed above.
• Pay attention to due dates on your bills and make sure that you’ve paid well in advance of the payment deadline.
• Make a plan to pay down existing debt. Even small payments to reduce your debt can make a big difference.
• Carefully review your credit report and take action to correct any mistakes you find. You can obtain a copy for free every week through April, and many credit cards provide regular notifications of changes in your score.
• If you already have credit cards, contact the companies to see whether they’ll increase your spending limit. By doing so you boost your credit score – as long as you don’t use the increased amounts to create new debt.
• If you don’t have a credit card, ask a family member whether they will add you to their long-term account as an authorized user so that you can build your own credit history.
Building your credit and having a high credit score is one of the keys to getting the things that you want financially. It takes patience and commitment, but is well worth the effort.