You may be years away from retirement but if you’re 50 or over, now is a good time to think about your credit score. In this article we’ll talk about why you need a high credit score as you get older and in retirement. And, we’ll discuss ways you can improve that score now. How important is your credit score? At any age, it’s very important. In retirement, it’s even more so.
Why Is Credit Score Important
When We Get Older?
As we get older, typically we finance less. And, we certainly finance less high ticket items. Therefore, we use our credit less which can affect our credit score negatively. As well, especially when we retire, our income isn’t typically as high as when we were working. Therefore, it becomes a bit harder to get credit and the lowest rates when we do finance items because our debt to income ratio isn’t as strong. So, as we age, we want to focus on getting our credit score as high as we can and keeping it there.
How Will a Change in the Economy Affect My Credit?
A lot of people are talking about a downturn in the economy after the 2020 election or even sooner. When we have a recession or even a slow down in our economy credit tightens. It’s harder to get credit because it requires a higher credit score to get decent interest rates. As well, if the value of goods such as real estate decreases, we want to be in a great position to take advantage of lower prices. But in order to do so, we need good credit.
What Should My Credit Score Be as I Get Closer to Retirement?
Before we get into specific numbers that constitute a good credit score, it’s important to understand a few basics about how credit scores are calculated. First, there is a good credit score (670-739), a very good credit score (740-799), and an exceptional credit score (800-850). People have very good and exceptional credit scores when they are very active with their credit and of course, pay everything on time. Very active means that they use credit regularly and have a good mix of credit account types such as a mortgage, credit cards, and a car loan.
As we age, we may pay off a mortgage, decide to rent, use credit cards less and not have a car payment. This will lower your credit score but it’s nothing to panic about as long as your credit score stays in at least the good range. DO NOT incur debt just to raise your credit score. However, do use your credit cards for purchases and pay them off every month. That shows credit activity.
If your credit score is in the good range now, try to get it as high as you can and keep it there. If your credit score is lower than good, below 670, you’ll want to focus on getting it at least above 700 as soon as possible.
How Can I Increase My Credit Score?
The calculation of your credit score is a very complex equation. But generally speaking, a credit score is based on how much good current and past credit you have versus negative or derogatory items you have showing on your credit report.
If you don’t have a good credit history and positive accounts now, your credit score will suffer.
If you have positive current accounts but older derogatory items, your credit score will be lower.
If you have a good past history but no current positive credit accounts, your score will be lower.
So, as much as possible, you want to eliminate negative, derogatory accounts and increase current positive accounts without going into debt to do so.
Eliminate Negative Accounts
Did you know that the U.S. is the only country on the planet that provides you a way to potentially remove derogatory accounts from your credit profile? The common assumption is that you must live with negative accounts on your credit report for 7 years from the date of the last activity on the account. More accurately creditors can only list a negative item on your account for as long as 7 years. That means you can potentially get negative items removed from your credit reports. There’s no guarantee, but it’s generally worth trying because of the positive impact it can have on your score.
Since 2012 we have represented one of the leading credit restoration companies in the country. We’ve personally helped over 1,000 people increase their credit score by removing inaccurate, obsolete, erroneous and unverified items from their credit report.
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Increase Positive Accounts
If you don’t use credit cards start using them. If you don’t want to carry balances that’s good. Just pay them off each month. Use them just for gas and groceries. That’s the money you need to spend anyway. But don’t open more than 3 credit card accounts. Very few people need more than 3 credit cards. Having too much credit available can negatively impact your credit as well.
If you currently rent a home or apartment get your rental payments put on your Transunion credit report. We can help you with that for as little as $6.95 per month.
If you need more positive accounts, instead of buying items such as computers, flat screens, etc. on your credit card, open an account with an online retailer like Finger Hut. They have a wide selection of name brand items on their website and they report to all 3 credit reporting agencies monthly. If you don’t want to carry a balance, then just pay it off in 30 to 60 days. It still will report as a positive item.
Good Credit Practices
Pay your bills on time. A late payment such as a car payment can cost you 60 points in your credit score overnight. If this happens know that your score will eventually climb back higher as you make future on-time payments.
Avoid high balances especially on your credit card accounts. Keep your debt utilization under 30%. That means if you have a credit limit of $5,000 on a credit card as an example, keep your balance under $1,500. If you go higher than 30% it will start to negatively impact your credit score.
DO NOT close old credit card accounts. There is a strong temptation to close old credit card accounts that we don’t use. But if you do that your credit score will suffer. It doesn’t seem logical but that’s the way credit scores are calculated. So, resist the temptation even if you need to pay an annual fee or if it is currently being reported negatively. Closing the account will not remove it from your report.
Have a good online credit monitoring service. To get a truly accurate credit monitoring service you’ll likely have to pay for it. Free services like Credit Kharma, are not necessarily reporting currently nor do they show all 3 of your credit reports. Similarly, if you use a service from one of the 3 credit reporting agencies like Experian, it may not show the other 2 agencies (Equifax and Transunion). Please note that not all creditors report to all 3 agencies. That’s why it’s important to be able to monitor all 3.
Have identity theft monitoring and protection. It’s very important to get notified if someone is trying to access your accounts to purchase something. That is the only way you’ll know if your credit information has been compromised or stolen before you get your statement online or in the mail.
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