How long does it take for my credit score to improve?
The process of raising your credit score can vary depending on the reason it’s needed. For instance, if you are just starting to build a credit history, then it can take a few months. But if you’re trying to build back from a poor credit history, it can take several more months.
So let’s assume, after checking your credit score and credit report, you notice it’s not as high as you’d like. You might be thinking, what can I do to improve my credit and how long will it take to see a change?
While a good report and score aren’t built overnight, there are still some steps you can take today to boost your credit fast.
Why are credit scores so important?
Your credit score is an important factor of any credit decision that lenders make, as it helps determine if you’re a good candidate for a mortgage and any loan or credit card you’d like to get. For a mortgage, it helps in determining how much money you’ll need for a down payment too.
If you’ve got a high credit score, you’re considered creditworthy, which means that you’re more likely to get a loan. On the other hand, if your score is low, lenders might consider you a bad risk, with some uncertainty that you might default on your mortgage. If they even decide to extend you a loan, they’ll most likely charge you a premium for it.
When you secure a mortgage, your repayment agreement will state your interest rate, how much interest you’ll pay each month and the total interest charges you’ll pay over the life of the loan. Having bad credit can make it hard to get a good rate, which can lead to higher costs and interest charges. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your credit score before you apply for a home loan.
Here are 7 useful hacks to build your credit score before buying a house:
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1. Stick to on-time payments for your cards and other loans
Payment history is one of the most important factors that lenders consider when it comes to assessing a person’s credit quality. Having a clean, on-time payment history can help boost your score.
Remember: late payments on your credit cards remain on your FICO score for up to seven years. However, even if you’ve missed a payment before, start making your payments on-time now. It can improve your credit score fast.
2. Keep your credit utilization under 30%
If you have a high balance on your credit cards, lenders will look at that as irresponsible – a sign that you don’t have enough credit or don’t manage the credit you have responsibly. Even if you pay your credit card bills in full each month, a high utilization rate can ding your score.
Remember: if you have a high balance during a billing period, consider making extra payments during the billing cycle to knock down your balances before your statement is issued. Credit bureaus love it when you make extra payments during the month!
For example: If your credit limit is $10,000, make sure to use not more than $3,000 a month, and if you do, make extra payments during the month to keep it below 30% for as much of the billing cycle as possible.
3. Check your credit reports for discrepancies
One of the first things you should do when trying to improve your credit is to make use of the free credit report offered by credit reporting companies. This is a detailed report that will help you check and track all your credit history.
This report will help you identify the areas that are contributing or affecting your credit score. With your report in hand, you can pinpoint what you need to do to build or improve your score!
Remember: If you spot significant errors that affect your credit score, you can challenge the activity on your report. Contact the credit bureau with details.
4. Avoid taking on new debts
When you’re getting ready to buy a home, it’s important that you avoid taking on additional debt. If you need a new loan or credit card, make sure you wait until after you’ve closed on the home to consider it. Taking new loans can negatively affect your credit score.
Until your loan closes and you start making regular payments, taking on more debt could have a negative impact. Your credit score is closely monitored by lenders during the entire process of getting a loan (up to 45 days). Any changes could affect your financing.
5. Avoid closure of credit card accounts
It’s also best to avoid closing any loans and credit accounts while you’re trying to get a mortgage. Doing so could hurt your credit score, especially if it’s something that’s been in your credit history for a long time. Your credit score is influenced by the length of time you’ve keep accounts open, as well as the mix of credit you carry, so until your mortgage, leave your credit and loans intact.
Although keeping an inactive credit card account shouldn’t hurt your credit score, it could raise concerns for the lender if you close your accounts while you’re getting approved for a home loan.
Pro tip: If you plan on closing your credit card account, do so only 45 days after you’ve been approved for a loan.
6. Become an authorized user
Securing a mortgage with bad credit or with little to no credit history can be difficult. If you have someone trusted and close with a good credit history, becoming an authorized user of their credit cards can help boost your score. Even if you don’t use the card at all, it can help boost your score and get you a step closer to a home loan.
7. Make use of autopay
Setting up an automatic payment method can help you avoid missing a payment. A missed payment can negatively affect your credit score, and with an autopayment method, you’re more likely to keep on time and on track.
Improving your credit score before applying for a mortgage can make a world of difference, helping you qualify for a larger loan, a lower interest rate and better terms. Your credit score can impact what you can afford – and even the home you live in. Check your credit report and take action to boost your score, and once you apply for a mortgage, leave your loans and credit intact, with as little negative or even new activity as possible.