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Protect Your Credit from Other People’s Credit Problems

By | Your Credit

Many people think its just about building your credit but you also have to protect your credit. Whether you already have great credit or have been steadily improving your score over the years, you’ve worked hard to get where you are. It can be tempting to use your good score to help loved ones when they come to you for assistance, but doing so can damage your credit standing. If you want to protect your credit and financial future, you should think hard before you help someone out. Simply say no when there’s a chance your assistance could hurt your credit. Read these 6 tips before you agree to “help” a friend or family member.

Protect Your Credit

1. Think Carefully Before Cosigning

If you have family members or close friends with bad credit, they might ask you to cosign with them on a loan at some point. Maybe they need to buy a car or get a rental lease and need your help. But the problem is that if they default on the loan or rental contract, their credit won’t be the only thing affected. As a cosigner, you’ll be expected to make any payments they default on. If you can’t make those payments, your credit will be negatively affected. For this reason, you should protect your credit by avoiding cosigning for loved ones, especially if you know they have a history of not making their payments on time. The only exception is if you can afford to pay for the loan yourself should the worst occur, and if you know your loved one is responsible with money and just needs help establishing credit.

2. Don’t Let Other People Use Your Credit Cards

Just as you shouldn’t give just anyone access to your good credit, you also shouldn’t let others use your cards. Maybe someone has asked you if they can become an authorized user on your credit card, or perhaps they want you to make a major purchase on your card and they promise they’ll pay you back. Either way, the debt is yours in the long run. If they suddenly can’t repay the amount they used on your credit card, you’re responsible for it. This means you either have to pay for the bill yourself or allow your credit to be ruined when you don’t pay it.

3. Don’t Rent with Unreliable People

If you need to rent a house or apartment and need a roommate, make sure you can trust him or her to help you pay rent on time every month. Otherwise, you’ll end up with late fees, and your landlord may even report you and your roommate to the credit bureaus once you’re more than a month late on rent. So if you have a best friend who is frequently unemployed and can rarely pay bills on time, do yourself (and your credit score) a favor and don’t rent with him or her–unless you can afford to pay the entire rent by yourself every month. And of course, if you own a house and you want to rent it out, perform a credit check on your new renters to make sure they have a history of paying bills on time.

4. Don’t Make a Habit of Lending Money to Friends or Family

The rule of thumb for lending money is to only lend what you can afford to lose. This means if you lend someone $500, you’d better not be depending on getting that back, because you probably won’t. If you have the money to lend, just give it as a gift if you feel the need to help a friend or family member. However, if the same people are constantly asking you for money, giving it to them may be enabling them. Instead of being a crutch for their bad money management habits, offer to help them make a budget or find a second job to pay their bills. This will protect your credit and go farther than lending them money every once in a while.

5. Build Up an Emergency Fund

Sometimes bad things happen that are out of your control, and you can’t help that. But what you can do is be prepared, and usually having extra money on hand is part of that. For example, maybe you picked a great roommate who can normally pay her bills, but she lost her job and won’t be able to pay rent this month. If you can’t cover the full payment, your credit could be affected and you might even be evicted. Having at least three months’ worth of expenses in savings will help you keep a roof over your head while your roommate finds a new job. Of course, it will also help you in case your own emergency occurs, such as if your car breaks down, you lose your job or you have a sudden health crisis.

6. Protect Your Credit by Focusing on Your Own Financial Goals

Having an emergency fund is a good start if you want to improve your financial security. But you should also have other goals when it comes to money. For instance, buying your own home is a great goal to have if you want to invest in your future rather than throw away money on rent every month. If you already own a house, upgrading it every few years is a good way to improve your investment, so you should save up money to do that. And if you have any debt–such as credit cards or student loans–you should have a plan to pay it all off so you spend as little as possible on interest.

If you need help improving your credit–or want to tell a loved one where to go for financial help–come to Ovation Credit Services. We offer a free credit consultation, so contact us today to get started!

Sources:

https://blog.equifax.com/credit/should-i-co-sign-on-a-loan-for-a-family-member/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/money-rules-of-thumb/

http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/1011/top-5-ways-to-protect-yourself-against-problem-renters.aspx

10 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

By | Ask a Credit Expert, Credit Repair, Credit Scores

Credit scores are like financial report cards, and almost everyone would like to have a better grade. Good credit scores are rewarded with better interest rates on all types of lending, from credit cards to mortgages. The better your credit score, the more money you can save in interest, sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. If you wish that your score of 550 was a little closer to 750, here are 10 ways to improve your credit:

1. Make Payments on Time

Of course this is an obvious tip, but you may not know that payment history is the largest factor (35 percent) in determining your credit score. Paying your bills on time and making (at least) the minimum required payments are the best things you can do for your credit.

2. Don’t Use All of Your Available Credit

Just because you have a line of credit on your credit cards doesn’t mean that you should max them out. Using less than 50 percent of your available credit tells lenders that you don’t need credit to survive.

3. Pay Down High Balances

If you are already in violation of #2, start tackling higher balances first. Thirty percent of your credit score comes from outstanding debt; lowering your debt will raise your score.

4. Focus Your Credit Shopping

Applying for different kinds of credit in a short period of time can hurt your score because it looks like you are desperate for credit to survive. Try and do as much research as possible about products and providers to limit your number of loan applications.

5. Apply Smart

Just because you qualify for more credit doesn’t mean that you need more credit. Opening new accounts can bring down your score. The next time you receive a pre-approved credit card offer in the mail, throw it away.

6. Old Accounts Are Good

This is another reason to ignore those credit card offers. The length of credit history makes up 15 percent of your credit score, so the longer you have an account in good standing, the better. New accounts will reduce the average age of your credit accounts.

7. Time Does Heal Over Time

If your payment history has been somewhat inconsistent in the past, it may take many months before your diligence is reflected in your credit score. Keep paying your bills and have patience.

8. Start Rebuilding

Secured credit cards or loans from a credit rebuilding agency or bank are good ways to improve credit that has been severely damaged. Making regular monthly payments on products like these is one of the fastest ways to rebuild your credit history.

9. Check Your Report for Errors

The best payment history in the world can’t help you if your credit report is wrong. Remember to request copies of your credit report every year, and report any errors to the reporting agencies.

10.  Use Ovation Tools & Resources

Ovation offers a number of tools to help you better manage your credit. From paying down credit cards with the budget constraints you currently have to helping you understand and improve your score, Ovation is here to help. Contact us for a free consultation today.

You don’t have to be stuck with a low credit score. Following these 10 tips can greatly increase your chances at getting the best interest rates on any future borrowing.

Credit Repair: Tips to Help Maintain a Good Credit Score.

By | Credit Cards, Credit Repair, Credit Reports, Credit Scores, Loan, Payment, Personal Finance, Revolving Debt

Accurate negative information generally remains listed on your credit report for up to seven years, while bankruptcies remain for 7-10 years.   However, there are things you can do to gradually improve and maintain a good credit score, such as the following:

  • Fix any inaccurate information.  This is one of the most important things you can do to maximize your credit score.  Up to 79% of credit reports contain errors.
  • Update old accounts.
  • Request that old inquiries be removed (older than 2 years).
  • Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your score.
  • If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.
  • Be aware that paying off an accurate collection account will not remove it from your credit report. It will stay on your report for seven years.
  • Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit”.  High outstanding debt can affect a credit score.
  • Pay off debt.  The most effective way to improve your credit score in this area is by paying down your revolving credit. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score.
  • Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. Maintain your accounts for a long time.  The longer your credit history, the more it helps increase your credit score.  Closing older accounts can actually lower your score.
  • Don’t open a number of new credit cards that you don’t need, just to increase your available credit. Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don’t open accounts for the purpose of providing a better credit picture – it probably won’t raise your score and, in some instances, may even lower your score.
  • If you have been managing credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don’t have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.
  • Do your rate shopping for a loan within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a mortgage or auto loan, where it is customary to shop for the best rate, and a search for many new credit cards.

 

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