Having a good credit score is important, especially when you are trying to buy a house, rent an apartment, or lease a new car. These big life purchases may not be possible without an above average credit score, and your score will impact the rates you get on these loans.
To keep tabs on your score, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion® – once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Excellent credit is considered 781+, good is 661-780, fair is 601-660, poor is 501-600, and bad is anything below 500. If your score is not as high as you would like, here are some great ways to help give it a quick boost.
Pay Your Bills on Time
This may sound simple, but paying bills late is one of the easiest ways to hurt your credit score. If you are prone to not paying bills on time, you should set up electronic automated reminders. You can either use your phone to set up alerts or if you need a little extra help, “there’s an app for that.” Mint is free to download and allows you to monitor your bills, bank accounts, and credit cards. Another solution is to use Lakeland Bank's Online Banking to setup recurring Bill Payments and register for eBills. This will help you stay on track to pay everything on time.
Reduce Your Credit Card Balances
We all use our credit card for an array of purchases, but have you been keeping an eye on your credit card balance? A big factor in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have vs. how much you are using. The smaller that percentage, the better— ideally, 30% or lower. To help boost your score, pay down credit balances and actively try to keep them low.
Lower Your Credit Utilization
When you see a credit card limit of $6,000 it may be tempting to think you have all that money to spend, but that’s not necessarily advisable. It’s important to be mindful of how much of your credit limit you use (known as your credit utilization). It is best to keep your credit utilization balances around 30% of your credit limit or less. If you see your balance is getting close to your credit limit, start making multiple small payments to get the balance down.
Check Your Credit Reports for Errors
Mistakes happen. It’s important to check your credit reports annually to monitor your progress and to catch errors. Any negative data on your report that is false, outdated or unrecognizable should be disputed with the credit bureau. If the negative info is dropped from your report, you’ll see a nice bounce in your credit score.
We’re here to help! Lakeland Bank offers information on personal banking on our website. Our Customer Service Team can be reached at 866-224-1379.