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Improving Your Credit Score

March 26, 2024


By: Kate Hart-Zayaitz

Credit Score

Your credit score is a prediction of your credit behavior, such as the likelihood of you paying back a loan on time, based on information from your credit reports. Companies use your credit score to decide whether to offer you a mortgage, credit cards, auto loans, and other credit products, and landlords use credit scores to screen tenants. The interest rate you receive on credit products is also influenced by your credit score.

When you have a low credit score, it can feel impossible to pull yourself out of the hole. Though it can take several months to see an improvement on your credit score, there are a number of quick, simple things you can start to do to help boost your credit score.

Review Your Credit Reports

Before you work on improving your credit, it’s important to know how you arrived at your current credit score. You can do this by pulling your credit report from the three major national credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—and reviewing reports for indicators of what is negatively impacting your score.

Be on the lookout for things like sustained high credit card balances, repeated missed or late payments, collections, and judgments. All of these can detract from your overall credit score. You should also be wary to not pull your credit report too often, as doing so can negatively impact your score. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus once per year, which can be accessed at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also obtain free weekly credit reports from the website which show your credit history without your score.

Couple Going Over Credit

Organize Your Bill Payments

Your payment history has a massive impact on your credit score. That’s why it’s important to develop a system for paying your debts on time. New Tripoli Bank offers Automated Bill Payment through our online banking service that makes paying down these monthly debts much easier.

Create a record of your monthly bills, either in paper or digital, and set reminders for yourself so you know when your next payment is coming up.

If you are comfortable doing so, consider charging your monthly bills to a credit card, while making sure you pay the card’s balance in full each month to avoid interest charges. The benefits are twofold: you consolidate your bill payments into a single monthly credit card payment, and you boost your credit score as long as you keep up with those monthly payments.

Keep Your Credit Utilization Low

Credit utilization is the portion of your available credit that you use at any given time and is another important factor in how your credit score is calculated. While your best option is to pay your credit balance in full each month, if you are unable to do this, you should set a hard limit for how much of your available balance you can leave outstanding each month. 30% is the recommended amount to start improving your credit score, and each month you should work on reducing this percentage to further increase your score.

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Limit Requests for New Credit

When you apply for a credit card, loan, or other credit product, the company offering the product will pull your credit report in order to gauge your creditworthiness. If this only happens occasionally, it won’t have much effect on your creditworthiness, but if you are repeatedly applying for new credit in a short period of time, it can damage your credit score.

Not all credit report inquiries will affect your score. So-called “soft inquiries” include an employer checking your credit, routine checks by financial institutions with whom you already do business, and companies checking your credit in order to send pre-approved credit offers. If you are working on improving your credit score, it is best to avoid applying for new credit in general.

Consolidate Debts

If you have a number of outstanding debts, it can be advantageous to take out a debt consolidation loan from a bank in order to pay off older debts. This leaves you with a single payment and the possibility of a lower interest rate on the loan, which puts you in a better position to pay down your debt faster and improve your credit utilization ratio.

There is no set amount of time that it takes to improve your credit score. How long it will take depends on the specifics of why your credit score is low and your financial capability to get a handle on your credit situation. Improving your credit score can take several weeks or months before you see a noticeable impact on your score. The important part is to take those first steps to a healthier financial future. If you’re looking for help getting started, you can reach out to New Tripoli Bank, which offers products and services tailored to your needs.

Kate Small

Kate Hart-Zayaitz is New Tripoli Bank's Chief Lending Officer and Senior Vice President. Kate has spent many years working for various community banks in our area. She was born and raised in Emmaus and has been involved with multiple banking and economic organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley.

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