Understanding your credit score can be complicated, but when managed, can work to your advantage. A good credit score has a major impact on your financial life. March is national Credit Education Month and the experts at M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group, want to help you understand and improve your credit.
“A good credit score is important in many aspects of your life,” said Mary Brockhaus, Senior Vice President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group. ”It can make the difference in receiving approval for a mortgage, car loan eligibility and credit card interest rates. A good credit score can lead to better rates and less interest paid over time.”
In honor of Credit Education Month, Brockhaus offers a few tips to manage and improve your credit.
- Check your credit report. This should be done at least 60 days or 90 days before applying for a loan in order to make sure that the report is correct. If it’s incorrect, make sure to notify a credit agency before you apply for a loan.
- Pay your bills on time. When a bill is paid late, or is even 30 days past due, it can show up on your credit report for up to seven years.
- Manage credit responsibly. Less is more. By cancelling credit accounts and getting new ones, you cause a negative impact on your credit score. It can take months even years to repair.
- Avoid going over the credit limit. Some credit card companies allow you to do this as a courtesy, but it can negatively reflect on your ability to handle your account.
- Use credit when needed. If you never use credit of any kind, it doesn’t mean that you’ll have a great credit history. Most lenders prefer to see at least three to four accounts reflecting a satisfactory 24-month payment history.
- Avoid “shopping for credit.” Each time you apply for a loan or credit card, an inquiry from that lender will be reflected on your credit report. Inquiries can affect your credit score.
- Add an installment loan to the mix. You’ll get the fastest improvement in your scores if you show you’re responsible with both major kinds of credit: revolving (credit cards) and installment (personal loans, auto, mortgages and student loans).
- Use your cards lightly. Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your score by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card’s limit; 10 percent is even better.
- Consider limiting your credit. Applying for a new account, transferring balances, or concentrating all of your credit-card balances onto a single card can result in a lower credit score.
Managing your credit score does not have to become a source of anxiety or stress. Take advantage of this Credit Education Month to learn more about your credit score and ways to improve. A clean credit report and good score can help you with future loans and interest rates. For more information on improving your credit visit your local M&I branch.