credit-scores

5 Perks You Can Land If You Have Great Credit Scores

Everyone loves earning perks, benefits, and bonuses, right? Credit card reward programs, brand loyalty programs, and even grocery store discount cards are built upon this very concept. Yet while most people can easily recognize the value of a credit card rewards program, there are still many consumers who do not see the value of having high credit scores in the same light. That is a costly mistake.

The truth is that great credit scores can help you to land a lot of awesome perks. Check out the list below and learn more about some of the benefits you can enjoy by maximizing your credit scores.

1. Saving with Lower Insurance Premiums

When you have excellent credit scores you can often secure lower insurance premiums. You may not be aware of this fact, but insurance companies routinely check credit scores whenever you apply for a new auto or home insurance policy. In fact, when it comes to auto insurance pricing, your credit scores might even be more influential than your driving record itself.

Earning great credit scores often pays off every single month in the form of money saved on insurance premiums. If your credit has improved since you took out your current insurance policy, it might be advisable to speak with your insurance agent or perhaps shop around to see if you now qualify for a better price on insurance coverage.

2. Saving on Deposits

When you open a new utility account it is often common practice for the utility provider to check your credit in order to determine whether or not you will be required to put down a deposit for service. As a result, when you apply for new electric service, gas service, cable service, or internet service, having less-than-stellar credit scores can cost you. Additionally, when you apply for a new mobile phone account, your credit will typically be consulted not only to determine whether or not you will be required to put down a deposit for service, but also to determine whether or not you qualify for a new account at all.

3. Saving Interest Fees Every Month

Did you know that financing a home with a questionable credit rating could realistically cost you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of the loan? For example, purchasing a home with a credit score of 620 could cause you to pay an extra $235 per month on a $300,000 mortgage compared to what someone with a credit score of 740 would likely pay for the same loan. Over the entire course of a 30 year mortgage that is an extra $84,600 you would pay - a pretty expensive penalty for not having great credit scores.

If you have already overcome credit issues and have rebuilt great credit scores, you should probably take a look at your current loans (i.e. mortgage, auto, credit cards, personal loans, etc.). You might qualify to refinance some of those loans at a lower rate and save yourself a bundle on interest.

4. Saving on Vacations

Having great credit enables you to land better credit card offers. Many credit cards offer exciting perks such as 0% interest on purchases for 12 months, generous airline reward miles which can be redeemed for free airfare, or even 0% financing with a specific resort or cruise line. However, the most attractive credit card offers are generally reserved for those consumers who have excellent credit scores. Achieving excellent credit scores can open the doors for you to cash in on some amazing vacation deals.

5. Saving Face

If you have ever applied for financing in the past and been turned down, you can probably recall a vivid memory of the red hot embarrassment which crept its way up your face when you heard the words, "I'm sorry, but your application was denied." Simply put, bad credit can be very bad for your self esteem and your sense of self worth, especially if you are the primary bread winner for your family. It is well worth the hard work required to build better credit scores just for the pay off of the added confidence you will receive once you know you never again have to worry about being turned down due to credit problems.

Earning Better Credit

It is completely possible to start earning better credit right away. However, just because it is possible does not mean that the process is easy. Earning better credit takes a solid plan, hard work, consistency, and patience. The good news is that the sooner you get started, the sooner you will be able to achieve your goal. It may require some hard work to improve your credit, but the amazing payoffs above make it totally worth the effort.  


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About the Author: Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over a decade and a half of experience in the credit industry. She specializes in the areas of credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, and debt eradication. She is featured monthly at credit seminars, podcasts, and in print. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.

What Is Revolving Utilization and Why Is It So Important to Your Credit Scores?

If you want to have great credit scores then pay your bills on time every month. The previous statement is great advice; however, it is incomplete. Simply paying your bills on time is not enough to achieve and maintain great credit scores. In fact, only 35% of your FICO credit scores are based upon your payment history. The other 65% of your FICO scores have nothing at all to do with how timely you pay your bills.

30% of your FICO credit scores, plus a significant portion of your VantageScore credit scores, are calculated based upon information found in the "Amounts Owed" category of your credit reports. The primary factors considered within this category are largely based upon those little pieces of plastic you carry around in your wallet: your credit cards.

What Is Revolving Utilization?

Revolving utilization is a term used within the credit world to describe how much or rather what percentage of your credit card limits are being used. Your revolving utilization ratio is also known as your debt-to-limit ratio or your credit utilization ratio. It measures how much of your credit limits are in use on each of your credit card accounts and expresses that calculation as a percentage. Here is a quick look at how revolving utilization is calculated.

Credit Limit: $5,000
Balance: $3,500
Revolving Utilization: Balance ($3,500) Divided by Limit ($5,000) = Revolving Utilization (70%)

Why Is Revolving Utilization Considered in Your Credit Scores?

Your revolving utilization is an important consideration in your credit scores for one very simple and important reason: it is statistically predictive of higher credit risk. When you carry outstanding credit card debt on your credit reports you represent a higher credit risk than someone whose reports show paid off credit card balances.

All debt is not created equal. When you take out a mortgage loan or an auto loan, for example, you are opening an installment account. Credit cards, by comparison, are revolving accounts. Installment debt is much less risky for lenders to extend because the debt is generally secured by some sort of collateral (aka your house or your vehicle) which the lender can seize and resell in the event you stop making your payments. However, credit card debt is different.

Because of the nature of credit card debt, it is much more predictive of increased credit risk than installment debt. Think about it. If you begin to struggle financially due to an illness, divorce, job loss, or even poor financial management habits like overspending, which is the first obligation you will probably allow to slide in the event that you have more bills than money at the end of the month? Most likely you will not skip your mortgage payment, your rent, or your auto loan payment if you can help it. Credit card payments, however, are much more commonly skipped in the event of a financial shortage.

Additionally, increased credit card balances might indicate that a financial problem is looming. If a consumer loses his job then it is very common to rely upon credit cards to help finance every day expenses until a new source of income can be secured. As you can easily see, if your reports show that you are revolving balances on your credit cards from month to month, especially high balances when compared with your credit limits, it might make you appear to be a higher credit risk in the eyes of a lender.

The Good News

Although revolving unpaid credit card debt on your credit reports from month to month will almost certainly lower your credit scores, you can currently regain those lost points rather quickly, as soon as you start to eliminate the debt. The other goods news is that the score increase you may be eligible to earn from paying down your credit card balances and lowering your credit utilization can be earned incrementally (instead of an "all or nothing" scenario). In other words, as you pay down your credit card balances little by little you should begin to experience small credit score increases. You do not have to pay a credit card balance all the way down to zero on your credit reports before you can hope to receive a score boost.


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About the Author: Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over a decade and a half of experience in the credit industry. She specializes in the areas of credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, and debt eradication. She is featured monthly at credit seminars, podcasts, and in print. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.


Will Paying Collections Help My Credit Scores?

Paying collection accounts is usually the first place people start when deciding to try to fix a damaged credit report. However, the idea that paying off a collection account will boost a consumer's credit scores is, unfortunately, very wrong. The FICO credit scoring model was built to help lenders predict the likelihood of a borrower going 90+ days past due on a loan within the next 2 years. If a borrower is likely to go 90+ days delinquent on an account within the next 2 years then a lender will probably consider the borrower to be a bad credit risk. When a consumer pays off an outstanding collection account, even if a zero balance is reported to the credit bureaus, that does not erase the fact that the delinquency occurred in the first place. Therefore, the FICO scoring model still sees the consumer as a bad credit risk.

It is the occurrence of the delinquency (aka the late payment) which lowers the consumer's FICO scores, not the balance on the collection account. The fact that the delinquency happened is not erased when a collection account is paid. To further illustrate this point, let me ask you a question. Would a $1,000 medical collection, a $100 medical collection, or a $0 medical collection lower your credit scores more (assuming they all were added to your credit reports at the same time)? If you guessed that the 3 collection accounts would likely have the same impact upon your credit scores then you are correct.

Additionally, paying a collection account should accidentally harm your credit scores further due to a deficiency within credit reporting systems which shows "recent activity" on a collection account when a payment is made.  Paying an older collection account, which hasn't reported any activity in several years, could make the collection account appear to be more recent and could potentially result in a drop in credit scores. The reason this occurs is because the credit bureaus will update the "date reported" field when the collection agency reports the new balance ($0 if you paid or settled the debt) and when the "date reported" becomes more recent it can damage credit scores.

However, you do want to exercise caution when it comes to collections since simply ignoring these obligations could come back to bite you. If you have a collection account on your report which you know stems from a real financial obligation and you know that the balance is correct, then it may still be in your best interest to try to settle the debt. Unpaid debt can potentially result in being sued, wage garnishment, and judgments. Remember, if you owe a collection account, you can always try to settle it for a lesser amount and you can even hire a reputable professional to assist you in getting a better deal. Paying 100% of the collection will probably not affect your credit scores any more positively than paying a 5o% settlement in full since the account is already derogatory. Neither scenario removes the collection account from your report, so do yourself a big favor and save yourself some money if you choose to settle any collection accounts. Finally, it is very important to always, always, ALWAYS get proof of the settlement and the satisfaction of the account in writing from the collection agency.

About the Author: Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over a decade and a half of experience in the credit industry. She specializes in the areas of credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, and debt eradication. She is featured monthly at credit seminars, podcasts, and in print. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.


Credit Reports and Credit Scores - What's the Difference?

Credit Reports versus Credit Scores

Let’s face it, for most people the world of credit can be a very confusing place. If you can’t explain the difference between a credit report and a credit score, you are not alone. People often use the terms “credit reports” and “credit scores” as if they were interchangeable. However, credit reports and credit scores are two totally different animals. Here is a crash course in credit terminology to help you make sense of this confusing topic and turn you into the super savvy consumer you always wanted to be.

Credit Reports

There is not merely one, but rather three major credit bureaus who compile data from lenders, credit card companies, collection agencies, public records, etc.  The credit bureaus are Equifax, Trans Union, and Experian. The data is compiled into credit files which are then used to generate credit reports (basically user friendly versions of the credit files themselves). In fact, the credit bureaus compile credit data about millions of consumers and sell credit reports to lenders and directly to consumers themselves.

If you have not checked your credit reports in a while, it is a good idea to do so right away. After all, it is ultimately your responsibility to monitor your credit reports for errors and for fraud. You can access a free copy of each of your credit reports (NOT your credit scores) each year at www.annualcreditreport.com. Credit reports do not exist to judge your credit management history, but rather to simply lay out the facts regarding how well you manage your debts.

Credit Scores

Contrary to popular belief, the credit bureaus themselves do not calculate your credit scores. Where a credit report simply lists a record of your credit management history, a credit score actually exists to evaluate and rate that data into an easy to understand number for lenders. A low number indicates that the consumer has a history of poor credit management. A high number indicates the opposite.

The original and most popular credit scoring model by a huge margin is FICO. In 1989 FICO partnered with Equifax to introduce the first credit bureau FICO risk score. The purpose of a FICO credit score is to predict risk – specifically the risk of the consumer going 90 days late on any account within the next 24 months. Today, FICO builds credit scoring software and installs it on the mainframe of each of the 3 major credit bureaus. The credit bureaus will use FICO’s software to calculate their own credit data and then sells the credit reports with credit scores to lenders. FICO receives a royalty from the credit bureaus for the use of the software.

FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850. If a consumer has a low credit score then the data in the consumer’s credit report indicates that there is a high risk involved with loaning money to that consumer. If a consumer has a high credit score then there is a low risk involved with loaning money to that consumer.

As mentioned above, consumers are currently not entitled via federal law to receive free copies of their creditscores annually. (Note: if you apply for a mortgage then mortgage lenders are required by law to show you all 3 of your credit scores that were pulled for the mortgage application.) Still, there are several places online where you can receive free educational credit scores (not the same scores as the ones used by lenders) or a free score from one of the bureaus individually. You can also view your credit scores, often initially for free, as a benefit of signing up for monthly credit monitoring services. Beware, many monitoring services will only all you to see your credit score from one and not all three of the credit bureaus. CLICK HERE to access a great comparison site where you can check out the benefits of several different credit monitoring services before deciding which option is right for you.


About the Author: Michelle Black is an author and leading credit expert with over a decade and a half of experience in the credit industry. She specializes in the areas of credit reporting, credit scoring, identity theft, budgeting, and debt eradication. She is featured monthly at credit seminars, podcasts, and in print. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter and Instagram.