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Understanding Credit

What are Credit Scores?
A credit score is a number that is calculated based on your credit history to aid lenders in determining your credit-worthiness. This number is intended to help a lender ascertain the level of risk they may be taking in loaning you money. The system awards points based on information in your credit report. Lenders can predict how likely someone is to repay a loan and make payments on time.
What Can I Do to Improve My Score?
* To get the best credit score, you need a mix of different credit types including revolving accounts (credit cards, lines of credit) and installment accounts (auto loans, personal loans, mortgages).
* Reduce your balances on credit cards to 75% or less of your available credit. Don't charge more than you can pay off in a month. You don't have to pay interest on a credit card to get a good credit score, and it's a smart financial habit to pay off your credit cards in full each month.
* Pay your bills on time. (This is probably the most important of all!)
* If you don't already have established credit or you need to rebuild, get a secured credit card. Secured credit cards report your credit payment history information to the credit bureaus just like a regular credit card. They are "secured" by your money. Check with your personal banker.
Avoiding over-inquiries
There are two types of credit inquiries that can be made to your credit report: hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A hard inquiry occurs when you seek to obtain credit. This happens when you apply for a loan or credit card, for example. Each time you fill out a credit card application at a department store, the inquiry counts as a hard inquiry. Only you can authorize a creditor to perform a hard inquiry on your credit report.
A prospective lender or other creditor will likely be concerned with an applicant whose credit report shows a high volume of hard inquiries. That's because it suggests a carefree attitude in applying for credit or an effort to borrow excessively.
Borrowing too much -- a situation called over-leveraging -- is a potential red flag for creditors. It signals you may face more difficulty in repaying your debts in cash-strapped times than a person who judiciously applies for credit.
If you're going to ping your credit report with frequent hard inquiries, it may be best to concentrate them around the time you apply for a home or auto loan. If you're thinking about applying for a mortgage loan, please contact me for advice and information before starting.
A soft inquiry is one where the inquiry is not tallied on your credit report. A soft inquiry does not constitute a bona fide request for credit. For example, a soft inquiry occurs when you obtain a copy of your report.


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