When discussing Free Credit Reports and Credit Scores, it is important to know just what the differences are between the two.
Your Annual Free Credit Report lists the full detail on all your credit accounts. It tracks your past payments on all your loans and credit cards. Your credit file is different than your credit score. Your credit score is a number that ranges from 300 to 850.
Your annual free credit report provides you with information that is in your credit file maintained by the consumer reporting companies which could be given in a report about you to a lender.
Your credit score is a number from FICO, and is a mathematical model that evaluates many different types of information in your credit file. Your FICO Score is used by a lender to help them determine whether you might qualify for a particular credit card, loan, or service. Most credit scores estimate the risk a company incurs by lending you money or providing them with a service. In other words, the likelihood that you would make your payments on time in the future. The higher your credit score, the less risk you represent to a lender.
The credit score you saw last year or even last week for that matter, was a snapshot of your credit file at that moment in time. Credit scores are fluid and can change anytime your credit report file is updated with new information.
If your credit score number is lower than you would like it to be, here are a few ways you might improve your credit score.
Pay Down Your Debt
Decreasing your “credit availability to credit use ratio on all revolving charge cards to under 25% of your credit limit is the easiest way to improve up your credit score. In otherwords, if you have a $10,000 credit limit on a credit card, you need to keep your balances under $2.500. Credit scores can really take a hit if your account balances are above the 50% credit limit.
Get A Visa Secure Card
Secure cards look like any other credit card offered by your bank or credit union but the difference is you actually deposit funds into your secure card account. The good news here is that your secure card account is reported to the credit bureaus. This way having a good track record on the account will certainly help improve your credit score.
Apply For A Small Personal Loan
Using your savings as collateral on a small personal loan is a great way to get positive information going into your credit file. These are low interest loans that are paid back in months rather than years in most cases.
Use Retail Store Credit Cards
Retail cards have smaller credit limits and are pretty easy to get. If you behave and pay your bills on time or even better, payoff those balances every month, your credit score has nowhere to go but up.
Keep Your Existing Credit Accounts Open
Accounts with a long history are always better than accounts with short histories. Never close an old account when opening up a new one.
Review Your Credit Report At Least Once A Year
Start today by getting your free annual credit report. You need to know just what is in your credit report file before you do anything else. We recommend that you order your credit score at the same time as well. Make sure that the information from each credit bureau match up. Important things to look for are wrong social security numbers, wrong addresses (current and past), unauthorized account inquiries, past employers, and any late payments.
You should always stay on top of your credit reports and credit score before you apply for any loans or credit card.