However, don’t believe a collector if they say they have ways of ruining your credit game forever. That’s just not true. Nothing you do can get you kicked out of the credit game forever. Any penalty you encounter will only set you back. But you can offset these setbacks by taking positive actions that help you move forward. So even if your period of financial distress puts you back at Square One, you can start again and get right back in the game.
Unsurprisingly, consumers across the southern United States are far more likely to have subprime credit scores than consumers across the north. Minnesota had the fewest subprime consumers. In December 2016, just 21.9% of residents fell below an Equifax Risk Score of 660. Mississippi had the worst subprime rate in the nation: 48.3% of Mississippi residents had credit scores below 660 in December 2016.35
By taking a two pronged approach to improving your credit through ongoing management of your credit and through fixing the errors in your credit reports, many people have seen dramatic results in a relatively short period of time. If you simply sit back and wait for your credit score to improve, it may be a number of years before you see a significant shift, but by proactively working to fix your credit, you may see noticeable improvement in your credit score in only a matter of months.
To take advantage of this tip, you will need to call each creditor and ask for their official monthly report date. Create a list of these dates and keep them handy. Then, all you have to do is make sure you make your monthly payment prior to each report date (instead of by the due date on your statement). This will ensure that the lowest possible balance for each of your accounts is reported each month. Score!
Your payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score, and a couple of missed payments can really hurt your score. Most consumers don't know you can request creditors stop reporting missed payments to ratings agencies if you have an otherwise clean record. This is called a good-will adjustment. Write a letter to your bank or card issuer emphasizing your past good payment history and asking politely to stop reporting the missed payments. Of course, this trick only works if you have a pretty clean record already, but you can remove those few blemishes that holding back your credit score.
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Some of your creditors and lenders might report only to one of the credit bureaus. And, since credit bureaus don’t typically share information, it’s possible to have different information on each of your reports. Ordering all three reports will give you a complete view of your credit history and let you repair your credit at all three bureaus instead of just one.
If you are like many consumers and don’t know your credit score, there are several free places you can find it. The Discover Card is one of several credit card sources that offer free credit scores. Discover provides your FICO score, the one used by 90% of businesses that do lending. Most other credit cards like Capital One and Chase give you a Vantage Score, which is similar, but not identical. Same goes for online sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle.
30% of your credit score is how much you owe on your credit cards. If you are maxed out on your credit cards, even if you make all your payments on time, you will see a dramatic decrease in your credit score. Don’t let your balances go to more than 30% of your credit limit; this is the sweet spot in the credit-scoring model. Even if you pay off your balances each month, the amount of credit you’ve used at the time of your monthly statement is the amount of debt used to calculate your credit score. Keep your balances low at all times during the credit card cycle.