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Bad credit can affect more than just our ability to borrow money. It can influence our chances of landing a job or renting an apartment. To understand what bad credit is how it's measured and ultimately, how to repair it requires understanding how our financial system measures our credit.
It turns out that measuring our creditworthiness -- how likely we are to repay our debts -- begins with something called a credit score. People with bad credit have low credit scores.
What is a Credit Score?
To borrow money, you'll need to understand how lenders look at you. And to determine whether they'll lend to you, lenders, like banks and credit cards, use a scoring system.
A credit score is a number that lenders use to quantify how risky a borrower you are. The standard credit score is also called a FICO Score, named after the Fair Isaacs Corporation who created the standard formula.
Credit scores typically range between 300 and 850 (the higher a score, the better). Recent laws have ensured that people can access their own credit reports every year for free.
Credit scores are made up of a variety of factors to determine how likely you are to pay back a loan:
- Payment history (35%): Lenders want to see whether you've paid back other loans in full and on time.
- Amounts owed (30%): Lenders may view people who carry a lot of debt as risky -- less likely to pay back new loans.
- Length of credit history (15%): You'll get a higher credit score when you have more experience managing debt. Lenders like to see a long history of responsible borrowing.
- Types of credit in use (10%): This part of the equation looks at what type of credit a person has: credit cards, installment loans, mortgages, etc.
- New credit (10%): Applying for a lot of new loan applications in a short period of time is considered a greater credit risk and lowers credit scores.
How good is your credit compared to your neighbors? Here's how average credit scores breakdown across the general population in the U.S.
As you can see from the chart, there is a broad range of credit scores. The largest section of the population (27%) has a credit rating of 750-799. 2% of people have credit scores below 500.
Wisconsin ranks highest among all states with an average credit score of 681 while Mississippi's 618 is the lowest score in the U.S.
Age And Credit Scores: 18-24 year olds typically have the lowest average credit score by age (643). Those who are 55 and older have the highest average credit score by age, 693.
How Bad Credit Can Affect You: Sure, bad credit can make it harder for you to get a loan, but it affects other things too.
Scores above 750 are considered good while numbers around 550 are not.
Mortgages: Want a mortgage? Banks will use your credit score to determine how large a loan they'll grant you, what interest rate they'll charge and how many years they'll give you to pay back. If you have bad credit, it may be harder to qualify for a mortgage, and if you do, you'll probably pay a higher interest rate because you're considered a riskier borrower.
Renting: Some landlords will pull a credit report when a new renter expresses interest in renting one of their properties.
Landing A Job: Employers can look at an employee's credit score during the application process, though they're not supposed to deny a job because of it. 47% of employers surveyed say they check credit scores of new job applicants.
Car Insurance: Do bad credit scores lead to bad driving? Insurance companies use their own data to determine who's likely to ding his car and believe there's a connection between low credit scores and accidents.
Home Insurance: Insurers may be unlikely to issue you insurance if you have poor credit. Why? There may be a link between bad credit ratings and making large (false) claims on a home or apartment.
Water, Electricity And Gas: Utility companies regularly check credit ratings on customers. Bad credit may require a person to put up a (larger) deposit.
The best way to get a loan for a person with bad credit is to improve his or her credit score. That takes time and we'll discuss how to do that below, but there are alternatives for people with low credit ratings.
Credit Unions: Many experts recommend turning to a local credit union to apply for a loan if you have poor credit. Credit unions are typically smaller than many large banks in the U.S. They are owned by their members. They are non-profits that frequently pass along earnings to members via lower fees. You're not likely to be just a credit score at your local credit union -- when considering loaning money to you, they should look at your overall situation.
Friends And Family: Instead of turning to banks, many people with low credit scores choose to borrow money from their family and friends. 7 percent of home buyers received a loan from a family member or friend to finance their home. And 14 percent of business owners last year reported hitting up friends and family for loans to finance their costs.
Peer To Peer Lenders: Peer to peer lending networks, like Lending Club and Prosper, are experiencing tremendous growth. Many people choose to borrow money on these platforms as a way to skirt the traditional bank loan process. Borrowers on peer to peer lending networks allow individuals to bid for their loans with varying interest rates they feel are fair for the risk in lending to the borrower.
Online Here: At CreditLoan.com, anyone can apply for a loan from $250 to $5,000 by completing our simple form. (If you have a bank account and meet a few minimum requirements, you can qualify!) We'll match you with a financial institution so you can compare rates and terms to make sure you get the best deal.
Just because you have bad credit now doesn't mean you'll always have bad credit. Your credit score is a moving target and it's in your power to make it better.
Here are just a few ways to begin fixing your bad credit and improving your credit score.
Pay Bills on Time: Your credit score can start going down once you're 30 days late in making a payment. It's a good idea to try to pay all bills within their grace period.
Focus on Your Credit Card Balances: Your credit scores are more sensitive to revolving debt (like credit cards) than to installment loans (like personal loans). Wiping clean balances on credit cards can be more impactful than paying off mortgages, for example.
Use Credit Cards Sparingly: Even if you're paying off your credit card debt monthly, your credit score can still be tarnished if you're maxing your plastic out. A good rule of thumb is to stay under a 10% utilization rate -- that means on a $10,000 credit line, you use only $1,000.
Consolidate Your Loans: You can be penalized for having too many accounts outstanding. Try to consolidate much of your credit debt onto one card. That said, you may want to keep your old cards active to maintain a healthy utilization rate. Make small charges on these cards every other month or so.
Scrub Your Credit Reports Clean: You can get a free credit report every year at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Make sure delinquent accounts you've paid off get erased from your report. It's supposed to happen automatically, but frequently these black marks just don't get removed. You're also going to want to double-check all the numbers on your report: credit lines, delinquencies and loan amounts can all be misreported. For mistakes, you'll have to let both your creditor and credit agencies know of the problem.
Bad credit is said to affect 25% of Americans. If you have bad credit, you're not alone. The bad news is that low credit scores can limit your ability to qualify for new loans and mortgages. The good news is that bad credit can be fixed and poor financial habits improved.
Even with bad credit, you can still qualify for loans like the kind offered at CreditLoan.com. We work with a network of lenders who are committed to helping people with low credit scores get access to much-needed money.
We get it, bad credit happens. It’s so common, approx 25% of Americans currently struggle with it. And while many folks are working to improve their credit scores, or at least, prevent their credit from getting worse, the only way to do this is to truly understand how credit works. We’ll break down credit scores, what to avoid, how you can start repairing, and more in this video.
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