Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Boosting Credit

I've basically come to the conclusion that I should not take credit advice from anyone that does not handle credit on a daily basis.  We had been struggling to boost our credit for a long time.  See, the reason why we chose to seek out a professional to review our credit report is because we didn't know a single thing about how credit actually works.  Because everyone's credit is different, rules change.  What would boost my credit may not boost your credit... in fact, it could potentially hurt it.  However, something I do that hurts my credit score could be exactly what you could use to boost yours.  Plus, there are a million grey areas when it comes to credit scores.  How much does getting an Old Navy credit card actually affect your credit?  When applying for a job that asks to see your credit report, does it affect your credit positively, negatively, or does it stay stagnant?  Does a Victoria's Secret credit card affect your credit score more than a mortgage?  If you pay off your debt entirely, is that actually going to boost your score?  The answers are always different depending on your own credit history.

For example, I was trying to figure out how to quickly boost my credit score.  I was at a mid-500 range.  I couldn't figure out why it was not going up when I was paying my bills on time!  A friend suggested I get a small retail credit card to boost my score.  Sure enough, when I applied for a credit card at NY & Co., I got denied.  AND it didn't help my credit score at all!

I decided to get a free trial through Score Sense.  For one week, I gave the online credit checker a try!  And to my surprise, I really liked it.  Score Sense shows you how your credit score changes over time on a very simple and easy to read graph.

It sends you an e-mail when there is a new alert  -  which is great for preventing identity theft.  It tells you the moment there are any changes on your credit report.  My first alert was on August 1st.  It told me that my credit score improved because I paid off medical debt.  It also told me that out of the three credit agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax), TransUnion was the one to update this first.

There is a ScoreCast, which allows you to see how your current score will be affected.  For example, if I paid off all of my credit cards completely, my credit will increase dramatically.  However, if I paid off my student loans completely, my credit score will increase the same amount as if I paid off my credit card debt entirely.  It helps you prioritize what areas you need to focus on to improve your credit score.

And there is a Dispute Center which helps you dispute errors on your credit report.

To top it off, Score Sense has a help line that you can call to ask questions about things you do not understand on your credit report.

As a couple striving to own a home some day, Travis and I are really thankful to have total access 24/7 to our credit report and credit score.  I highly recommend it.

I still believed that I needed assistance in understanding and monitoring my credit score.  Travis and I want a home of our own.  I turned to Kari Peters, who is a mortgage loan originator here in town.  She knows her stuff.  She has given us so many tips and constructive advice that has helped Travis and I boost our credit score in hopes of owning a home.  She is the person helping us get to a point where we can actually buy a house.  Did you know that there are free forms that you can fill out and mail that WILL boost your credit score?  I didn't either!  Kari started a new blog just to offer tips, crack credit report myths, and give advice to anyone needing home-buying/home-owning advice.  Check out her blog for exclusive tips and tricks to boost your credit, too!  Her blog is Ft. Wayne's Mortgage Minder.

I hope these resources help you just as much as they have helped me!  If you have any other sources that you use that have helped you understand and boost your credit score, feel free to share them in the comments!  I'd love to know where these hidden gems are!