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Fix your Credit

So you want to buy a house.  That is a big move. If you don’t have cash (most don’t)  then you need credit.  You need to fix your credit.

Pay on time

This is so obvious.  But I have to say it….pay your bills on time.

The best way to repair your credit score is by paying your bills on time, every month. Yes, it sounds simple and it is the responsible thing to do, but it’s also one of the quickest ways to pump your score into a more acceptable range. Don’t believe us? According to a study conducted by Experian,100 percent of super prime consumers and 97 percent of those with prime credit have no late payments on their credit reports.

Furthermore,  a person with a 707 credit score can raise it 20 points, just by paying bills on time for one month.

Manage the plastic

Your use of credit cards may be the culprit when your score is at rock bottom.

First, credit scoring agencies look at the age of your credit. New credit, such as opening new credit card or department store accounts, makes them leery. Just what will you do with all this new-found credit? Since they don’t know, you become a higher credit risk and take a 10 point ding on your score.

High balances make you appear risky as well. If your cards are maxed out you may lose up to 70 points on your credit score.

Don’t close your credit card accounts, just pay them on time. Consumers with no credit cards or installment loans look risky (it’s that fear of the unknown again) and tend to be penalized with lower scores. Besides, closed accounts still show up on your credit reports and may still affect your score.

If you have the money in your budget, another quick way to raise your score is to pay down high credit card balances. Try doubling your payments for a few months or at least pay a payment and a half.

If you build it, you can buy it

Many Americans didn’t do anything to deserve a low score other than to have never used credit. To credit scoring agencies, these people are, again, unknown entities. How they will use credit when they receive it is a mystery and therefore makes them a credit risk in the eyes of the agencies.

Unlike the folks that need to slow down on their credit card usage, you need to obtain a card, use it and pay the balance on time. Ensure that you obtain a card from an institution that will report your responsible use of credit.

To make it easy on you, we’ve compiled this handy, fix-your-credit checklist:

  • Order your credit reports from each of the big three agencies to determine where you stand
  • Dispute any errors you find on your credit report. Some shady credit counseling companies may suggest you dispute everything on the reports, which may do way more harm than good. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice on how to file disputes on its website.
  • Pay all your bills on time, every month
  • Pay down your credit card balances. If you can only afford to pay one at a time, pay department store cards first, if you have them, otherwise, pay off the one with the highest balance first. Aim to get the balances within 30 percent of your credit limit.
  • Use old credit cards that you haven’t used lately to keep their histories active. Remember, old credit is worth more than new credit when it comes to your score.
  • Obtain a secured credit card if you have no credit history. Use the card for small purchases and pay the balance on or before the due date.
  • Consider obtaining a small loan if your credit report lacks an installment loan history. Ensure that the lender reports to all three agencies.
  • Ask creditors to re-age your accounts. This might be challenging but if even one creditor agrees to do so your score may improve dramatically.
  • Ask the credit card companies to increase your credit limit