A healthy credit score is not only important for real estate transactions but also for other important life purchases. It will come as no surprise that mortgage lenders look very closely at your credit score to determine whether you qualify for a specific purchase, but did you know that a healthy credit score can also directly impact the interest rate you get?
A healthy credit score equals an attractive interest rate, a bad credit score less so.
Tips for a healthy credit score!
Keep Your Credit Card Balances Low
Again, this seems so obvious but credit cards are where many people dig themselves into a hole. Credit cards can also do wonders for your score if you manage them properly. Here’s a fun fact: Ideally you should keep the balance on your credit card below 35% of your available credit. Example, if your credit limit is $10,000 try to keep the balance under $3,500 at all times. This will help you build a healthy credit score in the long run.
Make Your Payments On Time & Set Up Auto Payments
We all have busy lives, crazy schedules and sometimes we’re just flying by the seat of our pants. Do yourself a huge favour and set up automatic bill payments. When Renée and I bought a new home this year we changed as many manual bill payments as possible to automated. Not only does it free up your time but you have peace of mind that you’re not forgetting anything – ensuring that you keep your credit score up!
Speaking of automatic, you should also be careful of numerous monthly or annual subscriptions. These payments automatically get charged to your card and as time goes on you forget about them. All of a sudden they start to add up and you may not even being using that product or subscription.
Watch Out for “Zombie” Debt
Excuse me? Yes, you heard right, Zombie debts. These are forgotten debts that are considered “uncollectible” and that may have never been paid. Some of the cases I’ve read about seem downright bizarre but these old debts can be “resurrected” and come back to haunt you if you’re not careful. There is a provincial and federal statute of limitations that prevents creditors from coming after a consumer after a certain period of time, but it varies depending on your location.
The long story short here is that you shouldn’t be obsessive with your credit score, but you should be checking it periodically to make sure there aren’t any issues. At the very least, sign up for one of the many free credit score programs out there and check it a few times a year or on a monthly basis. If a zombie debt does reappear on your credit score and you’re not paying attention, it could drag you down. Zombies.. scary stuff!
Credit Karma is a great free credit score program that I personally use to ensure I keep healthy credit. I usually check it a few times a month while I’m doing my online banking. Many of the major banks or credit card companies offer a similar service.