Looking to buy a house or a car? Before you try to make a big purchase, check your credit score so you know exactly how much you can afford--and then take steps to boost your score even higher.
In case you've never checked it before, a credit score is a number that helps lenders determine how likely a person is to make their loan payments on time.
Credit scores range from 300 to 850 with the higher rankings being better. An individual's credit score, ideally, should be 750 or higher. AnnualCreditReport.com and several other sites allow you to check your credit online. You can also call the Annual Credit Report Request Service at 1-877-322-8228.
A number of factors determine your credit score, and there are several actions you can take to improve it.
Make sure to pay all your bills on time and pay down your credit cards.
Debts can be a killer to your credit score, so keep your credit card balances as low as possible. While actually using your credit history is very important to your credit score, you need to display that you can use them responsibly.
Make sure that all of the information on your credit report is accurate.
If you see a mistake on your credit report--for example, a phone bill you have disputed--you can file a credit report dispute with your credit bureau and explain the situation in as detailed a manner as possible. Here are some addresses of major credit reporting agencies to whom you can write:
P.O. Box 7404256
Atlanta, GA 30374
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064
Avoid making multiple credit applications.
Remember: Getting turned down will decrease your credit score. Instead, work on rebuilding. Consumer credit counseling is available with professional credit counselors who will customize a debt management plan for you. This debt management plan can assist you in getting out of debt--resulting in fantastic credit and hopefully, the house of your dreams.
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CallCaroline can balance a budget, but she's not a professional financer. Please use your best judgment on whether or not to follow her specific advice.