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4 Things That Affect Your Credit Score

Posted on Monday, Aug 1, 2011

We depend on credit for most big purchases in life. From buying a car to applying for a student loan to getting a mortgage, your credit score can enable or prevent these things from happening. It is a very important number that lenders use to decide credit risk.

Credit scores often change over the years and months for a variety of reasons. Here are 3 factors that can impact your credit score.

1. Payment History. Your credit score is significantly impacted by whether or not you pay your credit card bills on time. In fact, payment history accounts for 35% of your total credit score. While an occasional late payment might not be as severe for people with an overall good credit profile, a habit of not paying on time can mean the difference in exceptional and average credit. A history of paying by the due date shows lenders that you are less at risk for defaulting on a loan. It also helps qualify for better interest rates.

2. High credit card balances. Maxing out credit cards can lower your credit score. The more cards you max out, the lower your score will be. Try to keep credit card balances at 20% - 25% of their limit to create the ideal situation for your credit score. For example, if your credit limit is $1,000, try not to carry a balance over $250 each month.

3. Requests for credit. Each time you apply for a credit card or loan, the inquiry shows up on your credit report. A high number of inquiries is a red flag for lenders. They may assume that you’re taking out extra credit because of financial struggles or to cover other debt – even if you never use the loans you apply for. However, this rule does not apply to self-inquiries. Checking your own credit report will not lower your credit score and is actually a good idea to do each year to make sure there are no mistakes.

4. Not having any credit cards or loans. As strange as it might seem, not carrying any credit cards or loans can lower your credit score. Lenders are more apt to approve a loan if they see you have a history of assuming credit and paying it off. They don’t want to loan money to someone with no credit history of repayment.

Credit scores range from 300 to 900 points. The higher your number, the better your score. Scores above 750 tend to qualify for the lowest rates and best loan terms. Curious about your score or need some tips on how to improve? Here are 4 tips for first time borrowers that you might want to consider. Remember, in addition to your credit score, lenders also consider things like your income and employment history when making a decision.

Talk to a Gulf Winds representative in Pensacola, Milton, Atmore or Brewton to get more information on your credit score and what loan options may be available to you.

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