Your three-digit credit score can determine how likely you are to get a favorable loan, to buy a house or successfully apply for (another) credit card. Here’s some good news: your credit score just increased due to one simple change that you probably didn’t even know about. Those few extra points are due to a change in the way the three major credit rating firms deal with negative credit information.
Equifax, Experian and TransUnion added some new practices, including updated reporting, such as when an overdue balance is paid, along with removing certain debts and items of questionable accuracy off of your credit report.
Caroline Ratcliffe, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute said, “To the extent that the bureaus are looking and seeing what’s accurate and cleaning up the report, it can improve family financial security.”
Library fines and traffic tickets are another factor in a credit report that are being removed. Medical bills that were paid or going to be paid by insurance companies are also disappearing from profiles. In addition to the changes made, some people might have noticed their scores took a jump earlier this year when the three major credit companies scrapped tax liens from their reports.
The number of credit reports with items in collections significantly decreased from 33 million from last year to only 25 million in June. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the total collections balance reported on accounts declined by nearly $11 billion during that time.
“Anyone who has experienced a jump in their credit score resulting from these changes should take advantage of the momentum and strive for even more progress toward improving their credit health,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of communications at the National Foundation of Credit Counseling.
If your account experienced a jump in its credit score, one way to save on the bottom line is to call your bank or credit card company and negotiate a lower interest rate. By doing so, you could save thousands of dollars on interest.
With a better score, it’s possible to refinance your car, take out a new loan for a mortgage, check for new insurance rates and even looking into getting a better credit card.
“Every application can cause a small ding to your credit,” Kimberly Palmer of Nerd Wallet said. “And if you are planning a big purchase like a car or a home in the next six months, hold off on credit card applications.”
She continued by saying, to keep your score up, make sure to pay every bill on time and do your best to keep your credit utilization low. While some places charge to check your credit score, there are a few websites that offer free credit reports such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. Although, if you constantly check your credit score through other companies and attempt to run your credit several times, it will make your score decrease.