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Credit Problems: How to Fix Them

A good credit score is necessary for just about everything. Whether you want to buy a new car or are about to move to a new apartment, you need a good credit score. But what happens if your credit score is less than stellar? We have some tips on how to fix your credit problems!

If you have credit problems, there's a way forward.

If you have credit problems, there’s a way forward.

What factors determine your credit score?

In order to figure out how to fix your credit problems, you first need to know what factors determine your credit score. There are five main factors, which include payment history, credit utilization ratio, age of credit accounts, mix of credit accounts, and number of inquiries. What exactly do these entail?

  • Payment history: This refers to how you’ve been paying on your accounts. Have you made your payments on time? Have you missed any payments? Payment history accounts for 35% of your score.
  • Credit utilization ratio: Your utilization ratio is how much credit you are using in relation to how much is available to you. Basically, are you just using a small amount of your available credit or are you maxing out your cards? Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score.
  • Credit age: Credit age is fairly self-explanatory. How old is your oldest account? The longer you’ve had the account, the better your score. This accounts for 15% of your overall credit score.
  • Account mix: This refers to the different types of accounts you have. Types of accounts can include credit cards, student loans, car loans, mortgages, etc. Having a variety of accounts is a good thing for your credit score. Your account mix makes up 10% of your score.
  • Inquiries: If you have too many hard inquiries on your credit report in a short period of time, it lowers your credit score. It accounts for 10% of your score.

How can you fix credit problems?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to credit problems, and it takes time to get your credit score up. However, there are a few basic rules you can follow. First and foremost, pay your bills on time and in full every month. Because payment history makes up the biggest percentage of your credit score, this is especially important. Also, keep your credit utilization rate under 30% if you can. Basically, if you have $1,000 in available credit, don’t use more than $300. As far as the age of your credit, there isn’t much you can actively do to improve this factor of your credit score. Just keep your oldest account open, and the longer you have it, the better your credit score will be. Finally, don’t open up too many new credit cards or other accounts at once. This will result in too many hard inquiries on your account, which will decrease your credit score.

How can you improve your credit score if you have a lot of debt?

If you already have a lot of debt, then solving your credit problems might be a little harder. The more debt you pay off, the better your credit score should be eventually. But what if you’re having trouble paying off debt on your own? Becoming debt free might seem impossible if you try to accomplish that goal by yourself. This is when you might want to look into a nonprofit credit counseling agency. They can give you advice on budgeting and provide financial education materials, as well as enroll you in a debt management program to help you pay off your debt. Once you complete this program, you should see an increase in your credit score.

If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today. 

ABOUT AUTHOR / Madison

Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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