The Average FICO Credit Score Reached New Record Highs During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Here’s Why

According to information that was published back in July, the average FICO credit score reached a record high, averaging 711. It may seem counterintuitive that average credit scores are continuing to go up in the midst of a global pandemic. The reality is that numerous indicators show that the economy has struggled mightily in the midst of a global public health crisis. Tens of millions of people in the United States are currently unemployed, having issues paying their bills. On the other hand, it is important to note that average credit scores do not shift quickly.

FICO Credit Scores Are Not a Barometer of the Economy

FICO credit scores are not necessarily a barometer of how the economy is doing. Usually, there is a lag between a major economic event and how credit scores respond. For example, during the last recession (in 2008), FICO scores did not reach their nadir until late in 2009, nearly two years after the recession initially struck. Therefore, people should not be surprised if credit scores take a while to respond to the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Why Are Credit Scores Going Up?

Credit scores remaining stable is one thing; however, why are they actually going up? There are a few reasons to note. First, the government acted en masse to pump more money into the economy. The CARES Act and the PPP put more money into the pockets of families and small business owners, making it easier for them to pay their bills and stay on track with their loans. The average number of borrowers who missed a payment actually went down in July compared to prior months. Given that on-time bill payments is more than a third of the FICO score, it is easy to see how this would increase credit scores. Finally, people are using this extra money to pay down their credit cards as well. This reduces average credit utilization, driving scores up as well.

Will Credit Scores Continue To Rise?

It is impossible to predict the future. If the economy gets back on track, this alone should help credit scores go up; however, with uncertainty surrounding another round of stimulus payments and many people still struggling to find work, the credit score boon might not last. Therefore, everyone should try to do everything they can now to pay down their debts and raise their scores.

Contact Us Today to Learn More About Credit Repair Services: Key Credit Repair!

 

What is the Fourth Credit Bureau?

It is important for you to be familiar with your credit score because many financial entities view this as a reflection of your financial stewardship. For example, if you are applying for a mortgage, the bank (or lender) is going to conduct a credit check to make sure to figure out what risk you might be when it comes to defaulting on your loan. If you have a high credit score, the bank could reward you with a lower interest rate. If your credit score is low, then the bank might deny you a loan altogether.

You can request your credit score for free once per year from credit reporting bureaus. Most people are familiar with the “big three” nationwide credit bureaus which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Even though most lenders use one (or all three) of these bureaus when they are checking your credit history and credit score, there are other credit sporting agencies as well. You can request a free credit report once per year from all of these credit reporting bureaus, so it is important to know about the “fourth credit bureau.”

Innovis

While there isn’t a single “fourth credit bureau,” many people have given this nickname to Innovis because it collects a lot of the same information that the three major credit bureaus collect. Furthermore, Innovis also provides an ID verification step to help with fraud detection and prevention. Innovis also collects utility bills, rent payments, and magazine subscriptions. You can request a free annual credit report from Innovis either in-person, online, by mail, or by phone.

ChexSystems

ChexSystems is a credit bureau that mainly focuses on checking accounts. When you apply for a checking account, the bank will probably check with ChexSystems to see if there is any risk of you opening an account with them. If you have closed an account recently, this will probably be picked up by ChexSystems. It is a good idea to check your report with ChexSystems to make sure there is no inaccurate information on the report.

Certegy Check Services

Certegy Check Services keeps track of everyone’s check-writing history to make it easier for businesses to predict if a check is likely to bounce. The goal of using Certegy’s services is to help businesses reduce check fraud. If you write checks, then you should your annual free report from Certegy Check Services to make sure there aren’t any bounced checks listed.

Contact Us Today to Learn More About Credit Repair Services!

It is important for you to check your credit report regularly to make sure there is no inaccurate information listed. You can request a free report once per year from any of these credit bureaus. This will improve your chances of getting a loan. Whether you are applying for a mortgage loan, vehicle loan, or credit cards its good to have a clear picture of what the lenders can see. Call us today for a free consultation! At Key Credit Repair, we would be happy to help you!

 

Why is Managing your Credit Score a laborious task?

You might think that mindfully tending your credit file is no big deal. But then one day, you’ll want to buy a new car, rent a killer apartment, or get a good deal on a mortgage. And that’s when the realization hits that you should have paid more attention to your credit score. Yikes!

However, this isn’t really stuff that most of us learn in school. Which is why our team has put together this quick guide on how to manage your credit score and what you should do if you need to give yours a little tender loving care.

Credit Score Definition and Basics You Need to Know

When it comes to understanding your credit report and score, there are a few key concepts you need to know.

1. You Have Multiple Scores

Your credit score is a mix of information from the three bureaus–Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. There are different models for scoring what they find on your reports, usually referred to as FICO Score or VantageScore. The model being used counts, which can make a difference in your overall score. Most of the best free credit score programs out there can give you a great general idea of what banks and lenders see, too.

2. Checking Your Own Score is Good

You won’t ever get penalized for checking your own score. By knowing what you have or where you approximately stand, you can always be ready for the experience when you decide to make a big move, such as purchasing a home or getting an auto loan.

3. Avoid Hard Pulls When You Can

A hard credit pull is when a lender uses your social security number to check your credit record. Too many of these can signal a sudden desperate need for credit, so it isn’t a good idea to keep having companies check your score in a short period of time. Instead, be choosy about how often this is done.

What to Do When Your Credit Score is Low

If you notice your credit score looks a little low, there are a few things you can do to try to get it raised. First, start by looking for any inaccurate data or information you can dispute with the credit bureaus. If they can’t prove that it is correct, the law states that it has to be removed.

Next, look at what you actually owe and determine where you need help and what you can pay down. For example, if you have a credit card with a substantial balance but have a little extra income coming in, consider paying it down as soon as possible. If you have numerous bad debts or collections, you might also want to try working with a credit repair and counseling team for additional help.

Why It Isn’t Always Best to Try to Repair Your Credit Alone

You would go to a doctor or hospital for a broken arm, right? When it comes to your credit, this is a similar case. While it is possible to jump on the journey alone, it isn’t always the best idea. Instead, you can hire a firm that offers credit repair services to help you along the way.

Why does this work? Well, for starters, these guys and gals do credit repair every day. Leveraging their expertise to help improve your own file is a wise way to get more done in a shorter period of time. Attempting to fix your score alone can take months or years, while a professional could get the same result in a fraction of the time.

That’s where Key Credit Repair can help. We’ll walk through the entire credit repair process with you, working step by step to improve your score and put you on the path to better financial wellness. Please get in touch with us today for a free consultation.

 

You need to Check Your credit Score

You Need to Check Your Credit Score Regularly. Here’s Why: 

One of the biggest influencers of your financial potential isn’t so much how much you earn, but what a certain little three-digit number says about your financial behavior. That’s right, we’re talking about your credit score. The higher it is, the better your overall financial situation is likely to be. It likely means you’ve managed your debt well and you’ll be rewarded with low interest rates on any future loans you apply for. But if your score is low, it means that you’ve likely got some work to do to get into a better position.

A simple basic credit score definition is that it’s a number that tells lenders how financially reliable of a consumer you are. And because of this, it’s important to check your credit score regularly – just make sure you find the best free credit score service that works for you. Here’s a look at why you should be keeping tabs on your credit score often:

4 Reasons Why You Need to Check Your Credit Score Regularly

1. You Know Exactly Where You Stand

Thinking about applying for a mortgage loan, a personal loan, opening up a new credit card, or refinancing an auto loan? If so, you want to know what interest rates you can expect, which will help you dictate if it makes sense to move forward. Checking your credit score will give you a ballpark number so that you can move forward accordingly. If your FICO score needs some work and you likely won’t be able to qualify for low interest rates, maybe you wait until you can enact some credit repair strategies. But if your score is in good shape, it’ll give you peace of mind moving forward.

2. It’s Easier to Dispute Errors

Nobody is perfect, and this includes the three major credit reporting bureaus. In fact, it’s estimated that about 20 percent of all consumers have an error on their credit report. It’s why it’s good to check your score often, as identifying a reporting error can help you dispute the item and have it removed from your credit history faster. The credit reporting bureaus will generally take about 30 days to investigate the matter and then remove inaccuracies after a dispute is filed.

3. You Can Monitor Improvements

If you set a goal of improving your credit score, you likely won’t have to wait too long to see any credit repair strategies pay off. In fact, if you stick to the plan, you could see significant improvement as quickly as a month. It can be fun – and rewarding – to track your credit score month to month to see your efforts paying off.

4. You Can Catch Odd Activity Faster

Finally, another reason why you want to check your credit score often is because there’s always the chance that you could be the victim of fraudulent activity. It goes without saying that the faster you catch and report any issues, the better your likely long-term outcome.

Top 5 Reasons 0 Balance

Top 5 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Cards at Zero Balance

Keeping your credit card balances at zero isn’t always the easiest thing to do—especially now in the age of COVID. With social distancing and lockdown measures in place, people have been purchasing more online. Indeed, record spending using electronic payments—namely credit cards—has been seen in light of the pandemic.

However, maintaining zero-balance cards can prove to be beneficial to you by helping you to increase your credit score. The following five reasons will show you why zero balances are crucial to your credit.

  1. Paying Off Your Debt While Building Credit History

Keeping your credit card balances at zero is a good idea—but maintaining that zero balance forever isn’t the best way to go about improving your credit, either. That sounds confusing, so to simplify, it works like this: If you don’t use your credit cards, credit card companies can notice that you aren’t doing anything with your cards and stop sending account updates to the credit bureaus. Potential creditors and lenders will be more wary of you, even if you’re a responsible borrower, because they cannot easily acquire information on your recent credit history.

The best way to remedy this? Make small purchases every now and then, and quickly pay them off in order to keep your account active and your credit history constantly updated. This way, you keep your cards at a zero balance most of the time while also establishing credit history.

  1. Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is one of the major factors that lenders look at when determining your eligibility for loans or additional credit cards. Keeping your credit cards at a zero balance keeps your credit utilization ratio at zero, which improves your credit score.

What’s more, zero balances prevent wild fluctuations in your credit utilization. For example, if one of your credit cards has a credit limit of $4,000, but is at zero balance, and another card is using $2,000 of the allotted limit of $6000, you’re at a 20% credit utilization ratio. If for some reason you should close that zero balance card? Then you’ll have $6,000 remaining in total credit limits, $2,000 of which is tied up in debt, which shoots you up from a 20% ratio to 33% credit utilization.

  1. Emergency Funds

Emergency funds are all the more important with the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, we are seeing record-high numbers of unemployment claims, which means that there are far fewer job openings than workers. If you are fired or lose your job, the zero-balance card can act as an additional safety net for you.

  1. Remaining Debt-Free Opens Doors

Keeping yourself debtless is a great way to position yourself well when being considered for things like cars, work and housing—and in some cases, it helps you outcompete the competition. Many people struggle with paying off their debts or keeping a clean credit history. Therefore, displaying the ability to keep a zero-balance card can push you up in places where credit is considered. Being debtless also improves your physical and mental stress. It’s better to live life without the burden of unpaid bills.

  1. Interest Rate Expiration

Some cards carry lowered interest rates for a certain amount of time as a promotional tactic. One thing to watch out for is the grace period when it expires, which can lead to devastating consequences if you aren’t aware of the expiry date. But keeping a zero-balance card can leads to less worrying about when promotional periods will expire—and hit you with large deferred interest fees.

It is challenging to keep those balances at zero. However, the five reasons above make it worthwhile. Pay down debts if you have them to improve your credit-worthiness!

Covid - 19 Credit

Is COVID-19 Affecting Your Credit?

To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for all of us is, at this point, likely a bit of an understatement. But for millions of Americans, one of the biggest ways they’ve been impacted is also probably the one they least expected: their credit score.

With so many people experiencing financial hardship, late and even missed payments have become a “new normal” across the country. It’s also the type of downside that has the potential to stay around long after the Coronavirus has finally left us behind. But thankfully, there are certain steps you can take to help prevent these types of long-term consequences from occurring. You just need to keep a few key things in mind while you do it.

Protecting Your Credit Score During COVID-19: What You Need to Know

By far, one of the most important steps you can take to safeguard your credit score during COVID-19 involves taking to all lenders and creditors to see if any assistance options are available. Yes, it’s true that this avenue would have been limited under normal circumstances – but these are absolutely not normal times we’re living in. Most banks and other financial institutions understand that this has all been incredibly hard on people – especially those in certain industries like food service who may have been out of work for months.

At the very least, you should check to see if you can pause or even make reduced payments for the foreseeable future to avoid missing them altogether.

Along the same lines, even if financial assistance isn’t available, you should still try to pay what you can on all of your outstanding debt. If you can only make the minimum payment on your credit card, that’s okay – it’ll still prevent those late payments from showing up on your credit report, which will help preserve your score for as much as possible.

Finally, consider adding a consumer statement to your credit report that briefly explains your current situation and what you’ll be doing to remedy things moving forward. Equifax, for example, allows you to add a 100 word statement to your credit report that will allow you to verify that the missed payments or other issues that are showing up are COVID-19 related. Potential new creditors will be able to see this before making any type of decision in the future, improving the chances that even a decrease in your score won’t do as much damage as you had feared.

You can add a statement to Experian and TransUnion credit reports, too – you just have to contact them directly in order to do so. 

Finally, be sure you’re staying current with all credit-related activities by requesting a copy of your full credit report whenever you’re able to do so. Especially during COVID-19, you’ll want to quickly dispute any incorrect information that you can to mitigate risk from the ongoing financial uncertainty as much as possible. You can always get a free copy of your credit report once a year by going to annualcreditreport.com. 

How to Survive a Financial Hardship and Not Ruin Your Credit

While we all hope we’ll never be in a situation where it’s difficult to pay the bills, things happen. You might be furloughed due to circumstances beyond your control, like the hundreds of thousands of people out of work right now due to Covid-19. Or perhaps you or your spouse were laid off, let go or forced to take a sizable pay cut. Maybe an unforeseen expense is making things difficult. Even if your financial hardship is temporary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Things can become especially dicey if you rely on your credit card to make ends meet on your bills, a strategy that can greatly raise your debt and lower your credit score.

 

The good news is there are certain tips and tactics you can follow if you’ve fallen on tough times to help you navigate your way through things without killing your credit score. Here’s a look at how to do it:

 

How to Keep Your Credit Score in Tough Times

 

  • Look into hardship plans with your credit card company: The credit card companies typically don’t publicize this benefit, so there’s a good chance that it’ll be up to you to initiate it. However, many companies do offer hardship plans to help people better manage their debt. Essentially, hardship plans are repayment plans specifically catered toward a particular consumer’s financial situation – and enrolling in such a plan has no direct impact on your credit. Be honest with your creditor about why you need to enroll in such a plan.
  • Stick to the necessities: You likely need to stay up on your car payments, mortgage payments, utilities and perhaps your phone bill. But your cable bill? Your Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and other streaming services? Eating out? Your daily morning Starbucks? Those are all things you can likely live without. Don’t be afraid to cancel or put a hold on these luxuries until you can get back on your feet. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
  • Pick up a part-time job: If you’re out of work and your unemployment benefits aren’t cutting it, don’t be too prideful to get a part-time job to help you get through the tough times. Even just bringing in a few hundred dollars more per week can help you knock out some of the essential bills you’re on the hook for. Plus, you can always leave the part-time gig as soon as you secure full-time work in your desired field once again.
  • Minimally, always make on-time payments: Even if you can only pay the minimum payment on your credit card, make sure you do it. Credit scores are largely weighed on whether or not you make on-time payments. Skipping even once can cause your score to dip – and you don’t want to get docked for something so seemingly simple to avoid.

 

 

Most of all, if you’ve fallen on hard financial times – don’t panic. Come up with a strategy of how you’re going to address your situation, then act. It’s possible to do without sacrificing your credit score.

Will Carrying a Balance on Credit Cards Help My Credit Score?

 

It’s estimated that nearly 60 percent of all credit card holders – or about 110 million Americans – currently have some sort of a balance on their credit card. And we’re willing to bet that if you ask, a good portion of these credit card holders will tell you that carrying debt over month-to-month isn’t a bad thing. In fact, we’re willing to bet that many will tell you that carrying a balance actually helps your credit score.

 

This is one of the most common credit score misconceptions – and while carrying over a balance won’t necessarily hurt your credit score depending on the amount, it certainly will not help it. What’s more is that carrying over a balance is likely to cost you much more money long-term when you consider interest rates. The average credit card interest rate today is more than 19 percent. Let’s take a closer look at this myth:

 

Why Carrying a Balance Won’t Help Your Credit Score

Like we said above, just because you’re carrying a balance on your credit card doesn’t mean your score will be negatively impacted. But it certainly won’t help your score. Paying down your debt or paying your credit card off will help your score, however, because you’ll be freeing up more of your credit utilization, or improving your debt-to-credit ratio. If you’re unable to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, it’s recommended that your credit utilization is no greater than 30 percent to maintain a good credit score. This means that if your credit card maximum is $1,000, you’ll want to owe no more than $300. If your credit utilization ratio goes above 30 percent, then you’ll likely begin to see your score dip.

 

Costly Balances

It’s recommended to only charge what you know you can pay off each month. However, we realize that this isn’t realistic for many Americans. But aside from the fact that carrying a balance won’t help your credit score, it could also cost you big bucks in the long term. That’s because if you’re carrying a balance over from month-to-month, you’ll have to pay interest on this balance – and that can add up over time, especially if you get into a habit of only making the minimum payment and let you balance balloon.

 

Credit Card Management Tips

So what are some of the best practices to keeping your credit score high as it pertains to managing your credit card? Here’s a look:

 

  • Make your payments on time: If nothing else, you want to ensure you’re making at the least the minimum payment by your due date. Payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score.
  • Set alerts to keep your utilization ratio in check: Many credit card companies will allow you to set email or text message alerts for if your debt-to-credit ratio goes above 30 percent on your card.
  • Prioritize your credit card: Being that it likely has a much higher interest rate than your other debt, you should be prioritizing paying down debt on your credit card to save money in the long run. If you are able to make multiple payments each month to keep the balance low, consider doing so.
  • Be careful about closing other accounts: If you have multiple credit cards, keep in mind that the sum of them will factor into your overall limit and debt-to-credit ratio. So if you lose a certain amount of credit by closing one or more cards, you could inadvertently cause your utilization ratio to rise – and that will cause your credit score to drop.
Bad Credit Home Loan

Good Credit Score – When it Comes to Real Estate

Your credit scoreis essentially the lifeblood of your borrowing ability. A low score will often be accompanied by high interest rates – that is, if your mortgage even gets approved at all – while a high score will be accompanied by low interest rates, saving you more long-term. But when it comes to real estate and mortgages, you might be wondering just what exactly constitutes as “good” credit, and whether or not your credit score is weighed differently when applying for a mortgage than when, say, applying for a car loan or when opening a new credit card. This post will take a look at that:

What is ‘Good’ Credit in Real Estate?

In the real estate world, most experts agree that if your FICO score is at least 740, you’ll be eligible for the best interest rates that are offered at the time. However, for every 20 points your credit score comes in below this 740 threshold, you’re likely to have add-ons to the interest rate – and you may not be eligible for certain programs. So say, for instance, that you have a 740 credit score and you lock in a 4.125 percent interest rate on your mortgage loan. If your score came in at 700, your rate might be 4.5 percent, at 660 it might be 5 percent and so on.

The experts also agree that too low a credit score will result in either very high interest rates or in complete denial of your mortgage application. Generally speaking, this low range where things can become somewhat sticky is between 600 and 620.

In saying all of this, it is worth noting that whether a mortgage application is approved or denied, as well as the interest rate, is largely dependent on the lender that you’re working with. For instance, some lenders may be more flexible with low credit scores than others.

What if I Have Poor Real Estate Credit?

If you’re in the 600-620 gray area and are either unsure of whether your mortgage application will be approved or if you can afford a higher interest rate if it is approved, your best option is to work to repair your credit to make you a more attractive consumer in the future. Here are some tips and suggestions in doing so:

  • Make sure you pay all of your bills on time. This is one of the largest weighed factors in determining your credit score.
  • Concentrate on paying down high-interest debt.
  • Check your credit report to ensure that it is error-free. (It’s estimated that the majority of credit reports have some sort of error on them.)
  • Ensure that your debts owed is at or less than 30 percent of your total credit allotment.
  • Only take out new lines of credit when necessary.