We have all heard how important our credit score is to our financial health, but most of us haven't seen the difference bad credit can have laid out in dollars and cents. When it comes down to it, taking steps to improve your credit now can save you thousands of dollars in the years to come.
Check out this monthly payment example for a car loan:
2009 Honda Accord
Retail price: $16,200.00
Loan Amount: $14,580.00
Term: 60 months
|Interest Rate (as of 9/18/2012)||2.89%||3.74%||5.99%||8.24%||10.24%|
|Total of Payments||$15,676.20||$16,008.60||$16,908.00||$17,838.60||$18,690.60|
|Difference from A+||$332.40||$1231.80||$ 2162.40||$3014.40|
So What Can You Do to Improve Your Score?
Correct Mistakes- Your credit score is only as good as what shows up in your credit report. Review your reports from all three credit bureaus once a year, as well as several months before applying for a loan. You can request a free copy of your credit report by going to www.annualcreditreport.com.
Pay Your Bills On Time- A late or missed payment, no matter what the amount, can hurt your score. Older late pays become less significant with time.
Reduce Your Credit Card Balances- A large factor in your credit score is how much money you owe on your credit cards relative to your total credit limit. Try to keep your balances below 25% of your credit card limit.
Don't Close Unused Credit Card Accounts- If you have several credit card accounts but only use a few of them, you'll raise your balance-to-limit ratio if you close the unused ones. You also shouldn't open several new accounts in a short time frame, since new accounts will lower the average age of your accounts.