“So now that I have an idea of what the credit score range is and what a good score is, how in the world is the score actually calculated?” While it’s difficult to predict exactly how much your credit score will change depending on certain actions (credit inquiry by a lender, paying off a personal loan, etc.) there are certain categories that affect the score, each making up a percentage.
With payment history being the largest percentage, this is the most critical category to focus on when building or maintaining a respectable credit score. Therefore, make sure you always make payments on time, ideally more than just the minimum amount. Another positive habit to practice is keeping your credit utilization rate below 30% of available credit. The utilization rate is how much of a balance you carry for that debt. Let’s say you have a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card that has a credit limit of $10,000 and you currently owe $2,800 on it and you also have an Amazon Rewards Visa Signature card that has a credit limit of $5,000 and you currently owe $750 on it. Your credit utilization rate is 24% ($3,550 total owed / $15,000 total credit available = 24%).
- Retain credit union and bank credit cards, even if not in use. The longer your oldest credit card is kept, the higher your credit score.
- Consider using a variety of borrowing tools if needed, such as a mortgage, car loan, or lines of credit. Creditors find it more attractive when you can show that you have the capability to handle multiple loans and pay them on time and in full amount.
- Consider opening new types of credit lines only if needed, but do not open multiple credit lines in rapid succession if possible. New types of credit every couple of years will show your ability to pay off debt.
- Consider freezing credit cards no longer in use, keeping the card open but unusable and protected from theft.
- Consider using a cashback credit card if your credit score is above 670.
- Review the annual fees on your credit cards to determine if the benefits received outweigh the fees.
- Use sources such as https://www.annualcreditreport.com and https://www.creditkarma.com/ to actively monitor your credit.
If you’re curious what the letters in FICO mean, they stand for the Fair Isaac Corporation which is the main credit score that the majority of lenders look at. Read more here to learn the exact difference between a FICO score and a non-FICO credit score. And now for the money question, “This is all valuable knowledge, but why should I have a high credit score?” Any time you borrow money, whether it’s a credit card, personal loan, or a mortgage, the lender will look at your creditworthiness to determine your interest rate and credit terms. If the lender sees that you have a high score, it indicates that you have a long history of positive credit behavior and they have little to no worries that you will be able to pay back what is owed. The lower interest rate saves you in overall interest paid and this can be significant savings over time, especially on a mortgage loan.
As part of our services, our Lockheed Martin Retirement Specialists assist with debt management as we believe it is a critical component of building a successful financial plan. Give us a call today to discuss this and other areas of financial planning and how it pertains to your personal situation. At Strittmatter Wealth Management Group, we serve many Lockheed Martin employees and retirees just like you!
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Be sure and check back next week for more incredibly valuable information. Cheers!
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