As you may have already heard, I recently ruined my credit score. I was using Borrowell to monitor it for free, and after 3 months of it going down, I finally checked to see what was going on.
Luckily, the loss of more than 150 points to my credit score was due to a small error that was fixed even faster than it happened. But for those months that I watched it nosedive off a cliff, I experienced some SERIOUS financial stress.
Want to know where you stand? Request your free credit score & credit report from Borrowell HERE!
Now that my score is fixed, I can rest easy… and never go a single month without checking it ever again.
Why is your credit score important?
Your credit score is more or less a risk assessment of how good you are at managing debt.
Lenders use it to determine if you’re going to be a borrower that pays them back or not. Bad scores flag you as high risk, suggesting that you may not be reliable for paying your bills in full or on time, whereas good scores identify you as low risk and suggest that you’re likely to meet your financial obligations when they’re due.
The weird thing is, the more debt you carry, the more likely you are to have a good credit score, even if you have no cash left over after you make your minimum payments on everything. Alternatively, you can shun debt and live super fiscally responsibly by paying only cash for everything, and your credit score will be poor.
You don’t really want to be in either situation. What you really want is to have great financial habits AND a good credit score — and it’s totally possible.
Keep track of your credit score
You can’t improve your credit if you’re not monitoring it. Thankfully, you can receive both your credit score and your full credit report for free from Borrowell, the website I’m using to track mine. This is considered a “soft hit” on your credit report, which means it will NOT affect your score!
Borrowell emails me my updated score each month, as well as a summary of how I’m doing month to month.
Prior to this, I never checked my credit score. I didn’t care what it was! I did, however, get my credit report once per year. This was great, responsible behavior, but it also meant it could take me as long as 12 months to catch an error. Now that I see my score on a monthly basis, I know right away if something is wrong — and now I can find out exactly what it is just as quickly.
And Borrowell has just released a super fun commercial about the fact that you can check your score anywhere! Click here to watch the 30-second spot.”
Get your credit report
When I had my $0.66 mishap, I had only been subscribed to Borrowell’s monthly credit score update. When I wanted to figure out why my score was tanking, I ordered my full credit report the tedious old-fashioned way: by submitting an application with a photocopy of my driver’s license to a credit reporting agency, then waiting 2-weeks for my paper report to come in the mail. This was both inefficient and highly anxiety-inducing.
When my report finally came, I had to go line-by-line through pages until I found the reason things were awry. I was expecting to have to do it all over again to verify my score had been fixed, but before my 30-day waiting period was up, Borrowell actually started offering free credit reports. I used this instead!
If it weren’t for the risk of identity theft, I’d post a screenshot of my entire credit report here because on Borrowell, it’s beautiful. It wasn’t the 10-pages of tiny type font I was used to! Instead, was a clean summary of exactly where I stood with my past and current accounts, each of which I could expand if I wanted more details
Futhermore, at the bottom of the report, it also had a section that would identify if anything was in more serious trouble, like in collections, or if I was recovering from a bankruptcy.
Needless to say, reading my credit report this way was easier on the eyes, and having access to it instantaneously was 180% better than the old snail-mail method I’ve been using for the past decade.
How to increase your credit score
I’ve done many other blog posts and YouTube videos on this topic, because it’s always a popular request.
I won’t re-state the tips and strategies I’ve said before, but I DO want to add a few new hacks to the mix:
- Monitor your credit! If you know your credit score, you know how far you have to go to get it to “Excellent”.
- Stop applying for more credit! Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, this counts as a “hard inquiry” on your credit report and can lower your score. These inquiries stay on your credit report for 3 to 6 years!
- Be patient! I say this all the time, but at the end of the day it really is one of the most important aspects of increasing your score. If you’ve made financial mistakes in the past or you haven’t had the chance to have a mortgage before, give your score time to increase. As you continue to pay your bills and diversify the types of credit you have, your score WILL go up!
Remember to stay away from companies charging you for credit monitoring or credit repair. Getting your credit score and your credit report is FREE, so you should never have to pay for it. Furthermore, credit cannot be “repaired” or “fixed” for a fee — the only thing that will fix bad credit is good financial behavior and time!
Acheiving perfect credit isn’t easy, but if you manage your money and debts well, it will happen all on its own.
This post was sponsored by Borrowell, but the opinions and experiences expressed in it are my own.
3 to 6 years! Is that accurate? I did watch the video, but from everything I’ve ever read, even most recent on other blogs, I’ve learned that if, for example, applying for a credit card, it will be a “hard’ check and can impact your score by about 10 points, but that it should go back up in a matter of a few months, not years. This is bad if that’s true!
Yeah that’s what I thought too — but that’s what the article I linked said! 3 years for Equifax and 6 on TransUnion. Seemed high to me as well, but I can see the hard hits on my credit report from Borrowell which uses Equifax, and the oldest ones are almost 3 years old so it looks accurate! I’m expecting in the next few months when those hits turn 3 years old they’ll be dropped off my report and my score will go up.
That’s really upsetting, I just applied for a new credit card (Home Trust VISA for the no Fx fees and perks) and my score is 854 (also from Borrowell) and I haven’t seen the hard hit yet, nor have I heard back from the CC company yet, so maybe the application just hasn’t been processed, but what concerns me is I plan to purchase a home within the next 1-2 years time and if this hard check does stay on for 3 years, this will no doubt affect my score and my better rate mortgage loan options.
Thank you for the article, I wish I knew before applying, but I will have to wait and see how my score is affected after this CC application is processed.
If your credit score is 854 I don’t think you need to worry! I highly doubt there’s a difference in mortgage rates for 854 vs. 844!
Borrowell is not available in Quebec 🙁 I’d love to know if there are any free credit score options available here.
I check my equifax and transunion reports every year, and I stagger the requests by 6 months so it’s not as out of date, but it’s annoying that checking the score with them isn’t free.
Hi Gio! Rachel from Borrowell here. All we can say is stay tuned in 2018… exciting things are coming 🙂
Thanks for the article. Per your advice I recently checked with Borrowell to see my score and it’s 856, so I’m good. I also won’t pay any creditor one cent more than what I owe; I can see that you do because you’ve been burned, but I refuse to do that. And you also got it cleared up, albeit it not as quickly as you would have liked. I learned from working in government that you just keep going over peoples’ heads until you get to someone who can help you, because a lot of those at the lower levels of a company don’t have the clout to do anything except for what “the rules” say anyway. And you did that to get your issue addresses as well.