Good Business Starts with Good Credit
By Teresa R. Martin, Esq., Law Offices of Teresa R. Martin, P.C.
Surveys have revealed that nearly 80% of all consumer credit reports contain serious errors or mistakes of some kind. Your credit score is the most important number in your financial and business life as well as the most influential one. The higher your credit score, the more financial and business opportunities you will have.
Step 1: Pay your bills on time.
Because your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your credit score, a strong record of on-time payments is key. One missed payment could lower your score significantly. Stay on top of your credit card, loan, and utility bill deadlines, making at least the minimum payments.
Step 2: Pay down debt.
Large loans and maxed out credit cards are going to drag down your credit score. Try to keep a low debt-to-credit ratio, meaning that your credit card balances should be only a small fraction of your available credit. For instance, if you have a limit of $10,000, your revolving balance should stay well under $3,000. Note that credit bureaus look at both your total debt-to-credit ratio as well as the debt-to-credit ratio of each credit card, so do your best to maintain favorable ratios for both.
Note: If you “maxed” out your credit cards, this will affect your credit score negatively as well.
Step 3: Don’t close established accounts.
A short credit history may have a negative effect on your score, but a short history can be offset by other factors, such as timely payments and low balances.
Step 4: Limit the amount of new credit you apply for.
Each time you apply for a new loan or a new credit card, your score drops. This is because it has been statistically proven that those acquiring more credit are a bigger lending risk than those who are not. The credit scoring programs are designed to distinguish rate shopping from opening new credit. So if you are shopping for a mortgage or loan, do it in a short, focused amount of time. If you request a copy of your own credit report, or if creditors are monitoring your account or looking at credit reports to make prescreened credit offers, these inquiries about your credit history are not counted as applications for credit.
Step 5: Establish a good credit mix.
Many credit-scoring models consider the number and type of credit accounts you have. A mix of installment loans and credit cards may improve your score. However, too many finance company accounts or credit cards might hurt your score.
Because your financial health revolves around your credit score, it is important that the information your credit report contains be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. Millions of inaccurate items have been removed from consumers’ credit reports since the Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed. Why shouldn’t YOU join them and start saving money right now?