Tips to Improve Your Credit
Debt is not a bad thing if used correctly. It can help leverage available cash for purchases or emergencies and help strengthen your credit score which is the main tool lenders and creditors look at when approving you for a loan. You can use sites like CreditKarma.com to check your scores but most banks and credit card companies will have access to your score. Remember, there are 3 Credit Bureau so there may be slight discrepancies between the reports.
Very Good- 740-800
Poor - 0-580
If you are just starting out, don't be afraid to start small. Getting a card with a few hundred dollar limit is all you need to start. Use it for gas and small purchases but make sure you are paying it off every month.
Know the different types of cards.
Rewards Cards - These pay cash back or points on purchases which normally offset higher APR's
Low Interest / Balance Transfer Cards - These do not offer any rewards but have lower APR and potential 0% balance transfer offers
Business Cards - These allow for high credit limits and sometimes offer great rewards but don't usually offer balance transfer options and normally have very high APR's
Request Credit Line Increases Regularly
Did you know that you can request a credit limit increase once every 6 months? EVERYONE should be regularly requesting credit limit increases. Why? The credit Bureaus don't just look at how much debit you have, they look at your ratio between existing debt and AVAILABLE CREDIT. A person with $2,000 on a card with a $2,500 limit is considered over leveraged but a person with a $2,000 balance on a $10,000 limit is considered to have healthy credit.
Take Advantage fo Balance Transfers
Balance transfers are a great way to build credit or manage existing credit. Most companys will allow you to transfer balances to their bank in exchange for a small or non existing APR for a certain period. For example - O% APR for 16 months and then 15% APR after that period. The catch is that they normally charge a 1 time fee for the transfer. For example, 3% of the total transfer. That's $30 for every $1,000. There are also some other things to watch out for.
Combine these 3 things to start building your credit
Apply for a rewards card for purchases like gas and groceries. Also, apply for a low introductory APR or Balance Transfer card. Build up a balance that you are comfortable with on the rewards card, after 6 months, transfer to the low APR card. Once the rewards card has a $0 Balance, request a credit line increase. Stop using the rewards card, pay down the Balance Transfer, request an increase on that card and repeat. You can do this on a few cards if you have them and are comfortable with it.
Don't hold a balance that you arn't comfortable with.
Always pay more than your minimum due.
Don't be late. Ever!
Try not to carry more than 30% of your available credit as a balance.
Tips for Your Card Application
Apply for your cards through the company you bank with first. Companies that you have checkings and savings with are more likley to give you higher available credit limits.
You can use your household GROSS Income - Before taxes, insurance 401k etc. If you are self employed, this might be very beneficial for you. Combine you and your spouse and make sure you use your GROSS INCOME , not just what you take home.
When asked about your planned monthly expenses for the card, the credit card company wants to see a higher monthly spend, not lower. They want you to spend monthly instead of just hold a balance so set your sights high in this section.
Don't get greedy. When asked for limit amount on new applications and existing increases, don't go too high. Be patient and reasonable. The card company has algorithms that will automatically accept if you hit the criteria. The more you can get automatically accepted as opposed to professionally reviewed by their staff, the better chance you have of the request being approved.