Your credit score is one of your prized possessions. A good score can better your life in many ways, sometimes beyond your imagination. Whether you want financial leverage for yourself or business, your score plays a vital role.
Who cares about my credit score ?
Lenders are more concerned about your spending patterns and how often you take credit.
In today’s world if you need credit from an authorized credit provider, then your credit score will be used in the decision-making process.
You need to treat your credit score as an intangible asset. Since companies leverage on goodwill, you might as well think of your score as goodwill.
To retain a good or better score you need to prove your ethos with the credit bureau.
This article is will help you achieve this. It’s simple but not easy, it takes focus, time and discipline to achieve.
Let’s look at the 7 genius tips that you should use to increase your credit score in a few months.
1. Make Frequent debt payments
What creditors tell you to make payments on such date for such amount via debit order or cash at a store. However, making frequent micropayments during the month will help increase your credit score.
Your credit factor has a powerful effect on your credit score and accounts for about 20% – 30% of your score.
Say your balance is R1000 and your credit limit is R1500 at the beginning of the month, it means your credit factor is 66%. This percentage is high and making micropayments will help dearly.
Instead of waiting for a due date, by paying small frequent payments, your credit score will change instantly.
For example, if you pay R200 on your R1000 debt your credit factor will decrease to 53%.
That’s a 10 point decrease in just 1 payment. Should the credit bureau update your profile before the due date, your score will increase.
By the time you pay the remainder of your monthly due debt, the bureau will work with the new score.
2. Apply a credit extension
A credit extension will decrease your credit utilization should your balance stay the same.
Back to our R1000 debt case study, if you increase your credit limit to R2000 from R1500 with debt fixed at R1000. Your credit utilization will now be 50% from 63%.
Credit extension may lower your credit score a little bit on the first month. This is due to the inquiry made to the credit bureau to check your credit profile.
However, some credit issuers don’t perform such inquiries.
Credit extensions can be done by credit issuers with or without your discretion. This is done if you pay your debt on time.
3. Have a mixed credit portfolio
You need to open different types of credit lines. Your credit should not slope in one direction such as having credit cards only or personal loans only.
You need to diversify your credit by all means necessary.
Having different types of credit lines means you are able to juggle different credit products. This is what the credit bureau asks, how dynamic is your credit?
Your ability to prove how versatile you are will boost your creditworthiness.
Take at least three types of credit and maintain them accordingly.
4. Always keep your credit lines open
Many people think that closing their line of credit will increase their credit score.
However, this is false, closing your accounts will do more harm to your score than you may think.
First of all, your score is calculated using your credit and behaviour across all credit.
Closing your credit line means there won’t be any other way to track your credit.
Moreover, closing your credit line may mean that you cannot keep up with credit anymore hence the closure of your credit line.
The best thing to do with your credit is to not close it but to just seldom use your credit.
Keeping your credit lines means that your credit utilization will stay the same.
Unlike when you close your credit line which makes your overall credit utilization increase, leading to a lower score.
5. Keep balances low on credit
It’s said that over 56% of South Africans have a poor score because they use most or all of their credit.
Well, using most of your credit or all of it is a bad habit that you need to get rid of.
Not only is it bad for your credit score but chances are you may not be able to afford to pay back the credit on time.
Many lenders prefer clients with credit utilisation ratio of 30% or less. This means that you have your debts under control and that you still have a capacity to take more debt.
Keep in mind that the 30% credit utilisation ratio is not only advantageous to get more credit but it is good for your credit health.
Calculate your overall debt and cap your credit utilization ratio at 30% or less.
You can calculate your credit utilization ratio by totalling all your debt then divide the total debt by your credit limit.
If you have used more than 30% then make personal arrangements to curb credit utilisation ratio to less than 30%.
6. Dispute errors on your credit score report
Get a credit report from any major credit bureau. You are entitled to 1 free credit report every 12 months.
Credit bureaus that you can use are Trans union or Experian or any other that you can think of.
Go through your credit report and check for errors that may have occurred.
Have errors removed from your credit report. Credit bureaus usually take 30 days to investigate and respond to errors.
7. Avoid credit Inquiries
Do you always want to check if you qualify for a certain credit? This action affects your score since all inquiries are recorded on your credit profile.
When you make credit inquiries, it is assumed that you are looking for credit. Thus, the action creates a negative impact on your score.
Inquiries take 24 months to be cancelled on your credit report. Make sure you only make an inquiry on credit should you really want to take that type of credit.
Otherwise, your credit score and report will help you determine which type of credit you qualify for.
You can use DirectAxis or Clearscore to know the likelihood of getting different types of credit other than making an inquiry.
What is a good credit score in South Africa 2020
In South Africa credit score ranges between 300 – 850. A good Credit Score is any score above 619. With a credit score beyond 619 you should be in a position to get favorable interest rates and get access to credit without much hustle.
800+ – Excellent Score
740 to 799 – Very Good
620 to 739 – Good
580 to 619 – Average
579 & below – Poor
How to check my Credit Score?
You can check your credit score with any of the major bureaus like Transunion, Compuscan, Clearscore and Experian. If you use FNB Mobile App, you can go where it says nav-gate life and check your credit status, that should give you a good idea of your credit worthiness.
Your credit score is an asset and it should be treated as such. Maintain and groom your score so that you can get financial leverage from multiple lenders.
You don’t know what the future holds financially and one thing that might save you from financial distress might be your score.
Always nurture and monitor it!