In recent years, the housing market has benefited from historically-low interest rates, widely accessible to most homebuyers and homeowners even if they didn’t have the highest credit scores.
However, times are ‘a changing, and with interest rate hikes and storm clouds on the economic horizon, it’s not unrealistic to think that we may see a market – and financial – tightening within a couple of years. While loan officers and mortgage brokers have their fingers on the pulse of these changes as they occur, there is one thing that will return to relevancy: credit score.
In fact, when a borrower or home buyer comes to you and applies for a loan, the difference between a 720, 680, or 620 FICO will make a huge difference in what loan programs they get approved for, and the interest rate. Furthermore, your clients will be able to afford more home when buying, save a lot when refinancing, and generally have better options.
But you don’t want to wait six months to a year to organically improve their credit score (nor will they wait around!). Luckily, we have some tactics and strategies that can help improve a consumer’s credit score in short order. In this blog, we’ll bring you the first five strategies, and look for the next five in our upcoming blog.
And you can always contact Nationwide Credit Clearing for more information on how to improve your credit score (or your client’s score) quickly!
1. Pay down balances quickly.
We know that the ratio of your debt to total available credit – called credit utilization ratio – makes up about 30 percent of your credit score. Therefore, people with maxed out credit cards or high debt loads compared to their available credit will see their scores steadily sinking.
So, the first thing you want to do when improving your credit score is to pay down as much debt as possible.
It’s important to get your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent (so you only owe $3,000 or less on a credit card with a $10,000 available balance). Credit experts even suggest keeping a utilization ratio of 10% or less to achieve a great credit score. However, don’t go all the way to 0% because it won’t show an established payment history they can use in their calculations (since you won’t have any payment).
2. Call today and request a credit line increase.
Don’t have enough money sitting around to pay down your credit balances enough to raise your scores? Another sneaky-good way to improve your credit utilization ratio – without paying down one cent of debt – is to increase your total available credit. For instance, let’s say you had a $10,000 credit line but owed $4,000 (so your utilization ratio was 40 percent).
Instead of paying down your debt, if you could get the credit card company to increase your available limit to $15,000 from 10k, your utilization ratio just went down to about 27 percent – and your score would go up! To do this, simply call the credit card company or lender and make your case over the phone and they’ll either approve or deny your request or approve a lesser increase.
3. Remove authorized-user accounts that are hurting their score ASAP.
Many times, a borrower agrees to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account to help that person qualify for the loan, whether it’s a credit card, an auto loan, or even a business obligation. However, if that person misses a payment or otherwise mismanages that account, the borrower’s negative hit will affect your credit score, too. Thankfully, it’s easy for us to help your borrower remove themselves from the credit account in question. It usually only takes a call to the credit card company or bank with a formal request that they’re removed from the account, as well as the item deleted from their credit report, removing the negative reporting item and improving their score.
4. Consolidate accounts – virtually overnight.
A good number of consumers find themselves with multiple credit cards or accounts from the same bank. Even if the name on the card is different. By consolidating these multiple accounts with the same parent company into one, it may help their credit score take a big jump forward. That’s the case especially if they can consolidate a newer account with an older one, which will then report as a well-seasoned account. However, we do need to carefully mind their credit utilization rate to make sure this move will positively impact their score, but it can really assist some borrowers, virtually overnight.
5. Dispute any errors or bad information on your credit report.
Most people don’t realize that credit reports often contain mistakes, misreporting, duplicate items, or outdated information. All of these things may be lowering your score, but they can also be removed. Start by contacting Nationwide Credit Clearing for a copy of your credit report, and we’ll help you review it carefully for any errors or inaccuracies.
By reviewing it line-by-line, we’ll be able to highlight inaccuracies or items that are lowering your score. Remember that there are three major credit bureaus and they each may report different information, so it might be a good idea to check all three. Look for errors on larger accounts first, length of history, payments reporting on time, and that your balances are accurate.
The last step is formally disputing each inaccuracy or error with each of the credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, separately. They are legally obligated to get back to you in a certain amount of time with proof that the information you’re disputing is correct – or they have to change it or remove it.
If you have more questions about improving a borrower’s credit score quickly, contact Nationwide Credit Clearing for a free credit report and consultation.