Like it or lump it, your credit score matters. When you want to access credit, apply for a mortgage, or even take out a cellphone plan, your credit score will be checked as a precondition.
While we all know the importance of good credit, maintaining a good score is not as easy as some people make it out to be. After all, there are countless ways that your credit score can be reduced, many of which have nothing to do with your own financial prudence.
For example, simply submitting a credit check for a car mortgage can instantly knock a few points off your score, despite this not being your fault at all. If this all seems a bit unfair, we’re here to help you game the system. Here are some very low-effort ways to maintain or improve your credit score.
Always opt for a soft check
As mentioned, submitting to a mandatory credit check for a mortgage can result in the lender running a “hard” pull on your score, which will instantly ding a few points off your FICO. However, this is not always inevitable. For example, if you are looking for a mortgage and wish to assess your eligibility without sacrificing your score, you can use the Trussle online mortgage broker to obtain a “mortgage in principle” (MIP). With this, you can find out exactly what mortgage you are eligible for without damaging your credit since the MIP can be obtained via a “soft” credit pull that won’t touch your points at all.
Raise your credit limit
This one might sound counterproductive, but that’s just how the credit system works. You can raise the credit limit on your cards in just a few seconds, usually via an application with your online banking partner. By raising your maximum credit limit, you can change how the bureaus assess you since a higher limit implies that you can be trusted to pay on time. Of course, only ever do this if you are 100% confident that you will be able to stay within your new limits and will be able to pay down your balance in a timely manner.
Run an error check
More often than you think, credit agencies get it wrong. In fact, more than one-third of all Americans have errors on their credit reports. If your credit score is low, it is entirely possible that this is due to inaccuracy. Fortunately, you have the right to call up your credit bureau for free and request that they run an immediate error check. This should only take a couple of minutes and could very well boost your score substantially.
Time your payments
Finally, it is important to be strategic with your payments. If you have mortgage payments or use a credit card, always pay down your balance before the end of the billing cycle. If you leave it until the last moment, then it is more likely that the agency will deem you to be dragging your feet and will penalize you for it. In addition, always use less than 30% of your credit card limit if possible, as this will have a significant positive impact on your score over time.
Credit scores might seem complicated and inexplicable, but making a few low-effort adjustments can keep your score in the green. Try these out today to see how you can raise your score.