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We are looking to buying a house (our first house together) at the end of the year or early next year, but hopefully at the end of this year.
In order to do this, we want to get our credit right up into the high 700’s – 800’s, so that we can get the best possible interest rate. We have been working to improve our credit for more than 6 months and have watched as the numbers fluctuate over this time. It’s like working out how to play a game to get the highest score.
You too should get into the habit of reviewing your credit report and score frequently – for accuracy and to identify ways you could improve your score, if you feel it necessary.
Your credit is so important as it does affect your ability to get a loan, and also determines the mortgage rates and type of loans you’re offered, credit card approvals, and can even affect a job or housing application.
Access Your Information
The first step is to make sure you know where you stand and exactly what is on your Credit Reports. You can purchase access to your credit reports, scores and monitoring services through the credit-reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. To get these will usually involve monthly fees. However, you don’t need to spend money doing this. So why would you? We’re all about saving money.
Federal law mandates that everyone has the right to one free credit report from each agency every 12 months. To get this you need to apply through AnnualCreditReport.com, the official credit report site, but your score isn’t included in the free package.
We are accessing our credit reports for free through Credit Karma, a San Francisco–based company founded in 2007. They provide free ongoing access to a credit score and credit reports from TransUnion and Equifax. You can sign up at creditkarma.com.
Once you sign up with Credit Karma, you can track your credit as often as you need. They provide online tools and information to help you understand your score. They will suggest how you can make improvements on your score and provide you with offers they have available that may help you achieve your goals.
However, there is a difference in the way Credit Karma calculates your credit scores, which is very different from your FICO credit score. It still gives you a good indication where you might stand and how to improve your credit. But that is a topic for another day.
Credit Karma will show exactly what is listed on your TransUnion and Equifax reports and from there you can work on improving your score by either contacting your creditors personally to address any issue or discrepancies on your report or hire a third party company to make a plan of action and approach repairing your credit on your behalf.
You may also be able to access your monthly FICO score free through online banking with your bank.
Also, you might like to consider WalletHub, it is another contender for accessing your free credit score and report. WalletHub draws information from TransUnion to provide you with your credit data. One of the main and most important differences is that WalletHub is currently the only service that updates your information daily. They provide free credit reports and personalized credit analysis, which it is also accessable through their mobile app.
WalletHub assists you to work towards obtaining a higher credit score with customized tips. With 24/7 monitoring you will be alerted to any important changes affecting your score, and you will be able to access and see your full credit report, so you can see any errors to rectify if any are on your report. They never use hard inquiries to access your information, so using their services will not impact your credit score.
How to improve your credit score
Fortunately, what’s contained within your own reports must meet three standards:
- The information in your report must be fairly reported, in accordance with consumer protection statutes. If creditors don’t follow these laws, they must revise or remove their credit reporting, even if their data is accurate.
- Data must be 100% accurate and about 25% of data in past studies have been found to be inaccurate.
- Credit report information must be based on verifiable facts and circumstances. Credit companies must be able to verify their credit reporting. If asked to verify the credit reporting, companies must request documentation from the debt collector and show that they actually do own the debts they are attempting to collect.
Most people today can’t fathom how to start the credit repair process or have the time to do it on their own. CreditRepair.com assists by leveraging current consumer protection laws to make sure that your credit report data is being fairly reported, and is accurate.
We utilized CreditRepair.com a few years back, and again recently, for a number of months until we were happy with the progress of having particular items removed and understood enough to continue to work on our own credit tracking. They charge a monthly fee and have varying degrees of actions based on your budget, and they do not lock you into a contract.