Posts Tagged ‘credit scores’

How To Have Great Credit

Posted on: February 22nd, 2011 by

Financial Planning - Rockville, MDWhat do you need to do to get your credit score in the highest range possible?  Before you make any changes, you need to know the most important information used from your credit report in determining your score.   Here are the two things that account for two-thirds of your credit score:

Your payment history: Having a long history of making payments on time on all types of credit accounts is one of the most important items lenders consider before approving you for a loan.

Owed versus available credit: This compares the amount you owe versus the total amount of credit available.  Your credit score can be lower when you use more than 50 percent of your available credit for each account.  The simple reason – when you are close to maxing out on all of your credit limits, lenders see you as a higher risk and more likely to make late payments in the near future.

There are, however, three other factors that account for about a third of your credit score:

Length of credit history: In general, a credit report containing a list of accounts opened for at least 10 years or more will help your credit score.  The score considers your oldest active account and the average age of all accounts.

New credit: Opening several new credit accounts in a short period of time can lower your credit score.  Also, multiple credit report inquiries may be seen as risky credit behavior on the near horizon, and can therefore lower your credit score.

Type of credit you use: Your mix of credit cards, retail accounts, finance company loans, and mortgage loans is considered.

Your credit score ignores your age, salary, and occupation.  It also does not take into account financial gifts, support you receive, or your financial assets.  For this reason, credit scores are less important for borrowers who seek loans that take these factors into account.

About 13 percent of people have credit scores of 800 or higher.  If you look at their credit profile, they have:

• four to six credit card accounts
• no late payments in the past seven years
• at least one installment loan – a mortgage or a car loan (with excellent payment history)
• an average of 10 years credit history per account and a few accounts with 20 years of good history
• a low number of credit inquiries (fewer than three in the past six months)
• no bankruptcies, foreclosures, charge-offs or collections
• debt levels at no more than 35 percent of their overall credit limits per account

How Banks are Spying on You

Posted on: December 30th, 2010 by

Financial Planning - Rockville, MDWith lenders still especially skittish about making new loans, credit bureaus and others are offering services that help banks probe into your financial skeletons.  The new offerings include ways to look at your rent and utility payments, figure out your income, gauge your home’s value and even rate your banking habits based on details like whether your direct deposits have stopped.

When applying for a loan, your credit record still matters, of course, but here are some newer ways lenders and financial-services companies are sizing up your financial behavior and credit-worthiness:

Bank-Depositor Behavior Scores

Fair Isaac, the creator of the widely used FICO credit score, is marketing bank-depositor behavior scores, which are used by banks to assess their own customers.  The scores are based on balances, deposit records, and withdrawal activity.  Unlike credit scores, which are most affected after payments are late or credit is maxed out, behavior scores can be a leading indicator of credit risk.  They also can help banks identify which of their customers might be ripe for additional services and rewards programs and which might need special attention because, for instance, their direct deposits had stopped.

Income Estimation

The bureaus are able to use credit-record information, such as the size of your credit lines and the age and size of your mortgage, and plug it into models to predict your earnings.  Those estimates also may be used to double-check the income you report on credit applications or to determine if you should be preapproved for credit.  You can’t see those estimates. But if you are denied credit because of them, you must be given a chance to provide additional information.

Rent Payments

Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, bought RentBureau, which collects rental-payment data from large property managers and expects to integrate that information into credit records before the end of the year.  Even if those consumers don’t want credit, that information could help them win better rates from insurers, which may use insurance scores based on credit records, and fatten up thin credit files, which some employers check before making hiring decisions.

Collection Triggers

If you owe money, you can run, but you can’t hide.  Credit bureaus can now send daily reports to collection companies when a debtor’s financial status changes—say, if new employment information appears or if a debt starts to decline.  A drop in credit use would indicate that the consumer has more capacity to pay and a better chance of repaying other outstanding debts.

Home Values

As home values have plummeted and foreclosures have soared in many states, all lenders have become more cautious.  Using home values as a factor in credit decisions doesn’t appear to be widespread, but it may come into play.  Of course, it also could work in your favor if you are one of the roughly 25 million Americans who owns a home outright.

Your Wealth

Information about your assets other than homes and cars, which aren’t part of the credit record, may soon play a bigger role in your financial life.  With a better sense of a consumer’s balance sheet, lenders might be able to target potential customers better and also have a fuller sense of their likely risk.  Equifax, another of the big three credit bureaus, offers financial-service providers an estimate of liquid wealth as part of a financial “suite” of information.

As all of these tools become more widespread, those are careful in all aspects of their financial lives may be rewarded, while those who are irresponsible, may face further penalties.

The Truth About Your Credit Score

Posted on: May 4th, 2010 by

Financial Planning - Rockville, MDYour credit score is that pesky three digit number that represents your credit-worthiness and how reliably you will pay back money you borrow.  This may seem simple enough, but credit scores are not always intuitive.  Even when you think you are doing the right thing, financially speaking, you could still be hurting your score.  People assume that once a debt is paid off it will drop off their credit score, when in fact this is far from the truth.  Late payments and other negative blemishes stay on your credit report for 7 years from the date of the initial late payment.  Bankruptcies will stick around for 10 years from the date you file.  Although these things are on the report for many years, the effect they have on  your credit report will lessen over time.

It is very important for you to keep an eye on your credit report, as the reporting bureaus do make mistakes.  It has been estimated that 8 out of 10credit reports contain a serious error or some sort of mistake.  To take a look at your credit report for free, and dispute errors online, check out  When you pull your own credit for educational purposes, it will not effect your score, as many have said, because it is a “soft inquiry”.  Your credit is however effected when your credit is pulled by a creditor or lender for the purpose of giving you a loan or issuing you credit.  So, check your credit report yourself regularly.

Also, if you have credit or can get credit, you should.  Yes, using all cash sounds like the responsible thing to do and you can easily track your spending, but that doesn’t help your credit report.  If you are not using credit ever, you have not demonstrated that you are capable of using credit responsibly, therefor your score will be lower than someone who does.

And finally, beware of credit repair companies claiming they can get negative information removed from your credit report.  This practice is illegal and generally scams.  Its better to discuss with a financial adviser what to do about cleaning up your credit report and paying off debts if that is your goal.  To have inaccurate information removed from your report, file a dispute with the credit bureau and they have 30 days to conduct an investigation.  If the dispute is valid, they will immediately remove the false information from your credit report.