It’s that time of year again, and as the holiday’s approach we may find ourselves running up our credit card balances. Here is some practical credit repair advice about keeping your credit scores healthy during the holiday season.
Credit Repair and Holiday Spending
Credit repair is all about restoring and improving your credit. The holiday season makes financial demands on us that can send our credit scores into a tailspin if we are not careful. From Thanksgiving through New Year Day many of us find ourselves spending money faster than any other time of the year, which can create a potential credit repair challenge.
Credit Repair Facts
Parties, family dinners, gifts, travel, and even home decoration quickly add up. By the time our January credit card bill arrives we can rack up an impressive and daunting balance. In the world of credit repair, knowledge is power, so let’s take a look at the facts and see if there is a way to mitigate the collateral damage.
Revolving Debt is Not Always Bad
There is really nothing wrong with revolving debt. Credit cards can be handy, and on occasion they can be a lifesaver. Life is full of unexpected surprises. The car may need repairs, the refrigerator might break down; the list of possible surprises is endless. If you don’t have reserves, or just want to manage your cash flow, credit cards can be a convenient resource.
When Every Point Counts
The problem with revolving debt arises when it impacts your credit score in a moment that you need it for a major purchase. Many people turn to credit repair in these situations for urgent help. If you are getting a mortgage you should be aware that every point on your credit score can affect your interest rate. Automobile financing is also credit score sensitive.
Credit Repair and the Right Score
If you are going to benchmark your scores for credit repair purposes you need to be aware of the different credit scores available. The credit scores that lenders use when underwriting your loans are called FICO scores. FICO is an acronym of Fair Isaac Corp, the developer of the credit scoring model.
A Caution about Bureau Scores
Credit bureaus do not sell FICO scores directly to consumers. The credit scores that you can purchase from the credit bureaus and their army of internet vendors are not the scores used by lenders and often differ by 100 points or more. These scores can provide useful information, but are of less practical use for your credit repair.
Credit Repair and Revolving Debt
If you want to purchase your genuine FICO scores you need to visit MyFico.com, the website of Fair Isaac Corp. All three scores currently cost approximately $50 combined. The FICO scoring model puts significant emphasis on your revolving debt. The most recent release of the scoring model acknowledges five different levels of card usage: 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 percent.
Balance Up Scores Down
The more of your available limit you use, the more impact it will have on your scores. You should think of a balance between 40 and 60 percent of your total available limit as neutral to your credit scores. If your balance is over 60 percent your score will fall. Over 80 percent, your score may fall up to 50 points depending on the overall strength of your other credit, and if you max out your balance expect to lose over 100 points; this is credit repair trouble.
Balance Down Scores Up
Conversely, the lower your balance, the better your score will be. If your balance is below 40 percent you will get bonus points, and below 20 percent you will be optimizing your score. If you need your credit to be at its absolute best try to reduce your credit card balances below 20 percent of your available limit. This can produce credit repair magic.
Allow Enough Time
Here is some holiday credit repair cheer. If you run up your balances, don’t worry. As soon as you pay down your cards your scores will rebound as if nothing happened. If you do not need your scores anytime soon don’t worry about your balances. Spend as necessary, but beware that when you need your scores it can take 60 days for the credit bureaus to report the new reduced balance, depending on the reporting cycle of the particular card issuer.
Easy Post Holiday Credit Repair
Have fun during the holidays, and do what you need to do. But be aware that when the season is over, if and when you need your credit scores to be at their best you will want to put your credit repair plan in action and pay those balances down as much as possible. Happy holidays!
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