My wife and I recently decided we wanted to buy a home better suited to starting a family and sell our townhouse (which she owned when we met). I didn't have the best, let's say, track record with financials in my past and my credit was abysmal. I hit rock bottom 2.5 years ago when my car ( a beautiful fully loaded Jeep) was reposed on Xmas eve morning. Even then, although angry and ashamed, I didn't do much to help myself out. My 20's, which were years of partying, spending and generally speaking not caring had finally caught up. I was 29. So, we got to work with fixing things. Paying off creditors, paying down debts, making on time payments, etc. When we had my credit run about 6 weeks ago, it was 588. This was much higher than the 410 I had a couple years ago, but still a far cry from good. (Side note here, be mindful of using credit cards that track your fico score, or having a credit bureau account that gives you your score. There are around 30 different scores that are used, and different scores are used for different types of inquires (auto loan is different than mortgage)). So we got to work, paid off the last couple things and really started paying attention to what was happening. One thing I can't stress enough is every year, you're allowed to get 3 free credit reports, 1 from each bureau. You MUST do this each year. This is where I found my credit windfall. I was able to uncover the fact that a debt that had been paid of was still being reported as open and late. I also found a debt that wasn't mine! A big one. $1700 showing open and late for 2 years with a collector. I filled a report with the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and they started an investigation. The company that had this debt wrote me a letter saying that even though I had no proof that the debt wasn't mine, they would absolve it and would contact the 3 credit bureaus to have the reporting removed and cleared. At this point, I called my broker and said it's time to run the simulator. They ran it, and then performed what is called a Rapid Rescore. Some brokers charge for this; good ones don't. Since they are trying to get your business they will do it for free. If it's at cost, it's roughly $10 per item per report. If you have a lot of issues it can add up. Anyhow, they did the rescore, did the simulator, ran a hard inquiry and BOOM, 657.
There is one exception to that rule… If you default on a federal student loan and then bring it current, any negative actions from the late payments disappear. But for all other debts, charge-offs are usually sold to collections, which creates ANOTHER trouble space that causes issues for 7 years. So, letting a debt slip into default is almost a double or triple whammy to your game.
Just as one example, the average age of your credit accounts is a component of this category. Let's say that you have four credit cards -- one that's a year old, two that you opened three years ago, and one that you opened 10 years ago but don't use anymore. Currently, your average credit card account is 4.25 years old. If you decided to close your old and unused account, however, this average would drop to just 2.33 years and could hurt your FICO score.
Imagine you have a credit card with a $1,000 dollar limit. You use this credit card to pay $800 worth of utilities, and pay it off by the due date on the 29th of every month. This is all fine and dandy until you realize that the credit cards closing date is the 17th of the month and they’re telling the bureaus that you’re holding balance of $800 each month.
A credit score ranges from 300 to 850, with the highest numbers reflecting the best risk. If your score is below 600, you will have a hard time finding lenders and loan products for which you qualify. If you have a 720 score and above, you will generally have access to the best loans and interest rates available. The world of credit scoring is a mysterious one: the formulas are a closely guarded secret and have never been made public. If you don’t have a good credit score right now, you may feel helpless, not knowing what can be done to turn this situation around. There are actually a lot of things that you can do that just require a little discipline. We offer you a few tips.