5. How to raise your credit score
To borrow as cheaply as possible, it helps to nudge your score from good to fabulous. Hoisting your number from 650 to 770 can save $3,100 a year on a 30-year, $300,000 mortgage.
Here's how your score is sliced and diced - and how to kick it up a notch. Remember: The bigger the slice, the more it affects your score.
- 35% Your payment history Pay your bills on time. Automating payments online can help.
- 30% How much you owe Keep balances on credit cards and other revolving accounts below 50% of your credit limit (lower is better).
- 15% Length of your credit history Rather than let old cards go dormant, charge a latte a month (then pay it off). No activity lowers your score.
- 10% Your new credit Don't open unnecessary new accounts. And if you're rate shopping for a mortgage or an auto loan, do it within two weeks; multiple requests could ding your score.
- 10% Your mix of loans You can't do much to change this (except get a credit card if you don't have one).
- Bonus Request a free copy from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. Then tell them about any mistakes you find that are not in your favor. --George Mannes