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Have you looked at your credit report lately? You should pull it every year to check for errors, but it’s especially important to pull it if you’re trying to improve your credit score. Why not make January your month to check your credit score? Ensuring that your credit report is free of errors and that it contains mostly positive information makes you a credit-worthy consumer. That makes you a banker’s favorite and gives you the confidence to bid on the home you want at an interest rate you can afford.

Bankers look at your past credit history to make a judgment about your ability and willingness to repay a loan.  Your credit score plays a huge role in this review. The longer and better your credit history, the better your chance is for mortgage approval. Positive information goes a long way for loan consideration, so if you have negative items, you should work to correct them. Depending on the severity and quantity, you may still qualify for a loan, but the better your credit score, the better your loan terms.

Check For Errors

There’s no quick fix to repairing damaged credit, but there are positive actions you can take starting now. Pull your credit report and go over it very carefully. This website allows you to check your report for free once every year, so keep up to date on what’s in your credit report and address negative information as soon as you can. them. Look for inaccurate items and contact the creditor to request to correct them. Pull old records and make multiple phone calls if you must. If something is truly in error, then you should ask to have it removed. Stay professional and courteous when contacting creditors, both current and former. Remember, if you want to improve your credit score, you need errors corrected. Be nice, even if the creditor made an error.

Address Major Negative Items

Accounts that are in active collections and judgments are major negative items in your credit history. If you have either in your history, you should arrange to pay them as quickly as you possibly can. Judgments can result in wage garnishments and this reflects very poorly against your personal history. The statute of limitation varies from state to state, but most states allow six years and some as many as ten years for creditors to pursue payment on delinquent accounts. If you’ve had any payment issues within the last ten years, plan to pay them before they make it to your credit report.

Credit Card Balances

You can still improve your credit score if you have open credit cards. The bank is going to review your credit utilization ratio as well as your debt-to-income ratio. If you have too many open accounts, they may count them against you if they’re too high. Give your report valuable positive history by paying credit cards off as quickly as you can and always on time. If you happen to go over your limit, pay the amount that exceeds your limit as soon as possible.

Avoid Opening New Accounts

Opening new accounts is reflected in your credit history. While you are working on improving your credit, avoid opening new accounts. Credit reporting agencies give you a grace of 30-45 days when they see you’re shopping for a mortgage loan. “Hard” inquiries, such as mortgages, automobile loans, and lines of credit show on your credit report and will slightly lower your score. Multiple inquiries during the same time frame can cause a moderate decline in your credit score. Wait for the new car and furniture until you’ve got the mortgage under your belt.


Save as much as you can, as often as you can. Banks want to be assured that you’re not going to be financially stressed when paying back your mortgage. Lenders will request your bank statements to determine that your assets have been “sourced and seasoned.” They will want to confirm where your funds are coming from and how long they’ve been in your possession. They want to see that your accounts are in good standing and that the money in them truly belongs to you, so they will often request two or more months of statements. Lenders also like to see savings when they’re reviewing your application for a mortgage. They are checking your ability to pay a down payment and also closing costs. The bigger the down payment that you can afford, the better terms and rates you’re likely to be offered.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to have a good credit score so that you are eligible for better lending terms, but it’s also important to not overstress yourself in the process of trying to improve it. Creating good financial habits like paying every bill on time every time will naturally improve your score over time. Don’t worry if it takes time to improve your credit score. By starting now, you’re giving yourself time to work on improvement.