There are things you can do to rebuild your credit history.
Credit builder loans are a great way to rebuild your payment history and improve your credit score.
This article looks at how credit builder loans work and how they can help your credit score.
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How Does a Credit Builder Loan Work?
A credit builder loan is a loan you would get from your local bank. You will be required to deposit the loan amount of the loan to the bank to receive a personal loan for the same amount.
For example, if you want to get a credit builder loan for $1,000, you would be required to deposit $1,000 into a savings account that you cannot touch until the $1,000 loan is repaid. You will have a set repayment play with set monthly payments. After you make your last payment, the funds you deposited will be free for you to withdraw.
Credit builder loans are given to borrowers who have had credit issues and are looking to improve their credit score. As long as you make your monthly payments on time, the bank or credit union will report the timely payments to the credit bureaus.
Get a Personal Loan with Bad Credit
Where to Get a Credit Builder Loan
Local Credit Union or Bank – The best place to start looking for a credit builder loan is your local bank or credit union. You have an established relationship with them, so they are more likely to offer you a loan with good loan terms than a financial institution that has no relationship with you.
Online Lenders – Lenders you find online offer various loan options and have the flexibility to offer competitive loan terms to compete with other lenders. Most credit builder loans are unsecured, but if you have collateral such as home equity or a vehicle you own now outright, you may be able to get a loan with better terms if you have some collateral.
Online Crowd Funding Sites – As a last resort, you could ask people close to you for money to fund your plan. Whether it be close relatives, friends, and other family members, you can set up an account with a crowdfunding site. People you know can contribute to your cause by donating money to your account.
Alternatives to Credit Builder Loans
Get a secured credit card – A secured credit card works similarly to a credit builder loan. You will be required to give a deposit equal to the credit limit to the creditor that will be held in an escrow account until you either close the account, or it is converted to an unsecured account. Secured credit cards work just like a regular unsecured credit card; your monthly payments will be reported to the credit bureaus. Some creditors will convert your secured credit account to an unsecured credit account after 6-12 months of timely payments.
Get a Personal Loan – There are personal loans you can get with less than perfect credit. Some personal loan lenders only require a 580 credit score. Interest rates will be higher on these loans, but each payment is reported to all three credit bureaus and will help you build positive payment history.
Have someone add you as an authorized user – An authorized user is a second account holder on a credit card account with access and can use the account. Authorized users have their own card, and the entire account history since the beginning will be reported to their credit report. If you do have someone add you as an authorized user, make sure their account is in good standing with no late payments and a low balance.
How Your Credit Score is Calculated
Payment History(35%) – Your payment history is the biggest factor in determining your fico score, making up 35% of your overall credit rating.
Credit utilization (30%) – Credit utilization is the amount of available credit you are currently using. The higher your credit card balances, the lower your credit scores will be, and vice versa. Try to pay down your card balances to less than 30% of your credit card limits.
Length of Credit (15%) – The length of time you have your accounts open accounts for 15% of your score.
New Credit (10%) – New credit accounts and hard credit inquiries make up 10% of your overall score. Each time a lender pulls your credit counts as a single hard inquiry. Having too many credit inquiries can negatively affect your score.
Mix of Credit Accounts (10%) – Having different types of credit accounts on your report makes up 10% of your score. You should have a good mix of installment loans, such as an auto loan, mortgage, or personal loan. As well as revolving accounts such as credit cards to maximize your FICO score.
The Bottom Line
A credit builder loan will help you establish credit and rebuild your bad credit. If you have poor credit, you need to build credit to improve your credit score. A credit builder loan secured credit cards, and being added as an authorized user can help you build credit.
You should check with your local bank or credit union to see if they offer credit builder loans with competitive interest rates.
Read our article on how to improve your credit asap.
A judgment is an order issued by a court of law. When you borrow money, you are legally required to repay the debt. This includes opening a credit card account, getting a line of credit from your bank and obtaining financing for a big purchase.
You can also become indebted to service providers. This can include utility companies, medical professionals, cell phone service providers and auto mechanic shops. They provide a service to you and then bill you, similar to a credit extension.
So, what happens when you don’t pay a bill or repay a debt? The company, creditor or collection agency has legal ways to pursue payment. One of those options is to sue you. If they are successful, the court issues a judgment against you.
What Happens After a Judgment Is Entered Against You?
The court enters a judgment against you if your creditor wins their claim or you fail to show up to court. You should receive a notice of the judgment entry in the mail. The judgment creditor can then use that court judgment to try to collect money from you. Common methods include wage garnishment, property attachments and property liens.
State laws determine how much money and what types of property a judgment creditor can collect from you. These laws vary. So, you need to look to your own state for the rules that apply. A consumer law attorney can help you understand your state’s laws on judgment collections.
Your property includes both physical items and money. That means judgment creditors can seek debt payment from more than your wages and bank accounts. They may also take back a car you financed or other personal property. Another option is placing a lien on some of your property, such as your home.
What Property Can Be Taken to Settle a Judgment?
Creditors must follow the law when applying a judgment to take, or seize, your property. Some things are exempt—which means they can’t touch those items or properties. Some examples include the home you live in, the furnishings inside it and your clothes. State laws identify these items and set limits based on their value.
Non-exempt property can be taken to help meet a judgment debt. Your creditor can take or leverage these possessions in the following ways:
Wage attachments. This is known as wage garnishment. When your employer receives the proper legal notice, they must withhold a percentage of your wages. These payments are sent to the judgment creditor until your debt is paid.
The Consumer Credit Protection Act caps these types of garnishments. The limit is 25% of your disposable weekly wages or the amount you earn that’s above 30 times the minimum wage. The lessor of these two amounts applies. Some states set the cap even lower.
Nonwage garnishment. If you’re retired, unemployed or self-employed, your bank account may be garnished instead. Here, too, there are exemptions. Veterans payments, social security and disability benefits are not eligible for nonwage garnishment. Some states add even more restrictions to the garnishment of bank funds.
Property liens. If you own real estate, your judgment creditor may file a legal claim against it. These liens notify lenders of the creditor’s rights to your property. That way, if you sell your real property, the debt must be paid out of the proceeds. In many states, liens are placed automatically when a judgment is entered.
Property levies. Judgments may also allow some of your non-exempt personal property to be taken through a levy. Law enforcement may seize things like valuable collections or jewelry to be sold at auction. Sales proceeds are applied to your debt.
What Can You Do to Avoid a Judgment?
Heading off a lawsuit is the best way to avoid a judgment. To do so, don’t ignore calls and correspondence from your creditor. Reach out to learn if they’ll accept suitable payment arrangements. Educate yourself on smart ways to pay debt collectors, and consider using the services of a debt management agency.
What if the loan company or debt collector has already started the lawsuit? Don’t skip court. Show up and fight. You may win if the statute of limitations has expired.
If you haven’t made a payment on an old debt for many years, you may have a successful legal defense. Most states set the time frame between four to six years. Collectors often still file suit because they win by default if you don’t show up. So, it’s important that you go to court with proof of your last date of payment.
If you successfully defeat or avoid a judgment, don’t stop there. Take some sensible steps to help you get out of and stay out of debt. Adopting these smart financial habits can also help prevent future judgment actions.
How Long Can the Judgment Creditor Pursue Payment?
The answer depends on where you live, since state laws differ. Some states limit collection efforts to five to seven years. Others allow creditors to pursue repayment for more than 20 years. With the right to renew a judgment over and over in many states, it may last indefinitely.
Judgment renewals may be repeated as often as desired or limited to two or three times. This is another state-specific issue. Judgments can also lapse or become dormant. The creditor must then act within a specific time frame to revive it.
What Happens When You Can’t Pay a Judgment Filed Against You?
If you own a limited amount of property, it may all be exempt from judgment collection efforts. Also, you may not work or only work part-time. With the CCPA cap, that may mean you don’t earn enough for garnishment.
This inability to pay your debt is called being judgment proof, collection proof or execution proof. While these circumstances exist, the judgment creditor has no legal way to collect on the debt. It’s not a permanent solution. The creditor may revisit collection efforts periodically for many years.
For a more permanent solution, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. This process can discharge or eliminate most civil judgments for unpaid debt. Exceptions apply for things like child support, spousal support, student loans and some property liens. Speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to learn whether this will help your situation.
Can You Settle a Judgment?
If you can afford to pay a decent lump sum, you may be able to negotiate a settlement. The judgment creditor may be willing to settle if they fear you will otherwise file bankruptcy. Get the terms and settlement amount you agree upon in writing. Be sure the creditor agrees to file a satisfaction of judgment with the court after they receive your pay off.
Can a Judgment Be Challenged or Reversed?
Challenging and overturning a judgment is difficult, but not always impossible. This is the case if there were errors. Perhaps you weren’t notified of the suit or it was never your debt to begin with. Consult with an attorney to find out whether you have grounds to challenge the decision.
If you want to challenge a judgment, act fast. If you received prior notice of the case, you may have up to six months to reopen it. If you weren’t notified, you likely have up to two years to appeal. By reopening the case, you have the opportunity to fight the claim anew.
Do Credit Reports Still Include Judgments?
For many years, credit reports included judgment information. But that changed in 2017. The National Consumer Assistance Plan is responsible for creating more accurate credit data requirements. These changes resulted in the removal of civil debt judgments from credit reports.
Judgments are still a matter of public record. But the NCAP now requires that there be identifying information on these records for more accuracy. That data includes a social security number or date of birth along with the consumer’s name and address.
Public records cannot include this type of identifying information. It would violate privacy laws. This is the reason these judgments are no longer reported on credit files.
How Do You Find Out if You Have Any Judgments Against You?
You should receive a summons when you’re being sued. So, you can expect a default judgment will follow if you don’t show up in court. You can also expect a notification when a judgment is entered against you.
Mistakes happen, though. You may have missed the notice or moved to a new address. If that happens, you may not learn of the judgment until collection actions start.
What if You Find a Judgment on Your Credit Report?
Take action if you learn that judgments are still being reported by Equifax, Experian or Trans Union. The NCAP eliminated this practice. So if there’s a judgment on your report, this is definitely something that you should dispute. Credit repair services, like Lexington Law, can help you dispute the error and correct your report.
If you’d like a more in-depth look at your credit score, give ExtraCredit, our newest product, a try. It has five killer features that all work together as a solution to your credit troubles. Plus, you’ll be able to see all 28 of your FICO credit scores.
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Disclosure: Credit.com and CreditRepair.com are both owned by the same company, Progrexion Holdings Inc. John C Heath, Attorney at Law, PC, d/b/a Lexington Law Firm is an independent law firm that uses Progrexion as a provider of business and administrative services.
Personal loans are typically unsecured loans offering up to $50,000 with a term of up to 5 years. They come in several shapes and sizes and interest rates, fees, and terms can differ greatly, but the average personal loan in the United States is between $7,000 and $8,000 and charged at a rate of 11% and 12%.
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Steps to Getting a Personal Loan
Check Your Credit Report
Compare Rates and Terms
Get a Pre-Qualification
Look at the Fine Print
Look at Alternative Options
Receive Final Approval
1. Check Your Credit Report
The better your credit score is, the lower the interest rate of the loan will be. You can get a free credit check from all three of the main credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) once a year and use this to see what the lenders will see.
Your credit report will show your credit history in intricate detail, as well as your personal details and all active accounts. If your credit score is below 600, you’ll likely be refused a personal loan; if it’s lower than 700, you may succeed, but won’t necessarily get the best rate.
In any case, it always helps to build your credit score and it’s also very easy to do. If you follow the steps below, you may see a sizeable improvement in a few short months:
Increase Credit Limits: Your credit utilization ratio calculates your debt in relation to your credit limits. Someone with a debt of $100,000 is not necessarily worse off than someone with debt of $10,000 if the former has a credit limit of $2 million and the latter has a credit limit of $20,000. By judging debt in this way, your credit score builds an accurate and relative picture of your financial situation. By increasing your credit limits, you can improve this part of your credit score in one quick move.
Payoff Debt: Debt is the other half of the credit utilization ratio and works just as well as increasing your credit limit. If you have a debt of $5,000 and a credit limit of $10,000, your credit utilization is a high 50%. If you repay just $1,000 and increase your credit limit by $1,000, this ratio drops to a respectable 36%.
Get a Secured Credit Card: A secured credit card uses a security deposit as collateral, allowing you to sign-up even if you have very bad credit or no credit at all. It can build your credit in as little as 6 months as all payments are reported to the credit bureaus. Your deposit will set your credit limit and is completely refundable.
Stop Applying: Every time you apply for a new auto loan, personal loan, credit card or mortgage, you receive a hard credit inquiry, which can reduce your FICO credit score by between 2 and 5 points. What’s more, every new account will reduce your score even more and make it harder to quickly build a strong score. Keep applications to a minimum and only apply when you absolutely need a new account.
Keep Making Payments: Your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score, which is more than anything else. It takes a long time to build your score this way, but as soon as you miss a payment, your score can drop by over 100 points and undo all your hard work, while making your task considerably harder.
At the same time, however, your credit score is not the only thing that matters. There is a misconception here, one that claims you can get pretty much anything you want as long as you have an excellent credit card. But that’s simply not the case.
If you are self-employed with an inconsistent income that never goes higher than $15,000 a year, it’s still possible to have an excellent credit score. After all, as long as you keep credit applications to a minimum, meet your payment obligations on time and keep a strong credit utilization ratio, you can build a great credit score.
But does that mean you’ll be offered a $200,000 mortgage or a $50,000 personal loan? Of course not. You’re not making enough money to cover those debts. You might be offered a low limit credit card with relative ease, but you’ll struggle to get a sizeable personal loan and may be refused outright.
2. Compare Rates and Terms
An estimated rate is, as the name suggests, just an estimate. It can vary greatly depending on your credit score, income, and a few other factors. However, your eventual rate will always fall into the estimated range and by looking for the best ranges and comparing the most likely rate based on your current credit score, you can avoid wasting your time on high interest loans.
Many borrowers will look for the lender they are most familiar with, including the ones they have a bank account or mortgage with. But your checking account is irrelevant here and by skipping the comparison shopping you could end up with a much higher rate than you can afford.
Look for the cheapest rates and compare these to the best loan amounts. Calculate how much you will need and whether or not you can sacrifice a few dollars here and there to save more on interest.
3. Get a Pre-Qualification
A pre-qualification will give you an idea of what sort of loan you can get based on your credit score and income. You can then use this information to compare and contrast, ensuring you find the best and most suitable loan for you.
You will need to supply all of the following information, and this will be used to determine if you’re a good fit or not:
Your Social Security Number
Your full income and debts (debt-to-income ratio)
Your date of birth, home address, phone number, and email
All your previous addresses dating back a fixed number of years
Details of your education
If your income is too low, your debt-to-income ratio is too high, your credit score is poor or you have made too many credit applications, you may be refused a pre-qualification.
4. Look at the Fine Print
Does the loan have a prepayment penalty? Does it charge high fees and penalty rates? Is there an origination fee? This information may not be included on the main offer page, but it’s essential for determining the worth of a loan, so dig around in the terms and conditions, and make sure you’re getting the best loan possible in terms of the lowest rate as well as the lowest fees.
5. Look at Alternative Options
A personal loan is not the only option at your disposal, and it may not even be the best one. Depending on what you need the money for, there are a host of better alternatives out there, ones that may be more forgiving of your credit score and more willing to give you a large sum and a low rate.
It’s not all about banks. There are online lenders, credit unions, and a host of other financial institutions willing to help you out.
We have outlined some of the best alternative options a little further down this article.
6. Receive Final Approval
Once you have browsed multiple loan offers, checked loan rates, and decided on the best option for you, it’s time to apply and get final approval. You will need to provide some additional info, including W-2 forms and pay stubs, and then the lender will check your credit score and you’ll receive a hit of between 2 and 5 points.
If there are no issues, the loan will be finalized. Some online lenders offer to pay your funds by the next business day and other lenders offer instant payment on acceptance of the loan application. However, many will pay within 1 week.
What are Personal Loans Used For?
You can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons and in most cases, the lender doesn’t care which one you choose. As long as you meet the monthly payments and have a respectable credit score, they don’t care if you’re blowing it on a vacation or launching a business. Here are a few reasons to apply for a personal loan, some of which make more sense than others.
If you have a lot of credit card debt, you can use an unsecured personal loan to clear it. You’ll still have debt, as you’re essentially swapping one debt for another, but you may be charged a lower interest rate or smaller monthly payment.
There are debt consolidation and debt management companies that specialize in this service and can do all the hard work for you. However, these companies focus mainly on reducing your monthly payment and interest rate in exchange for a prolonged-term. You’ll pay less per month and may have an APR that is several points lower, but the increased term means you will pay much more over the length of the loan.
If you have a strong credit score, are in a good financial position and have several high interest credit card debts, you can get a low rate, short-term loan. You’ll pay more per month, but over the term, you could save thousands of dollars in interest payments.
It’s rarely a good idea to accumulate debt just so you can enjoy the vacation of a lifetime. But what if it’s the only chance you have of taking that vacation? What if it would be a life goal realized and you’re confident that you can make the monthly payments and eventually clear the debt?
In such cases, while we would never recommend it, using a personal loan for a vacation is understandable. It’s something that many older married couples do to pay for cruises and trips across Europe. It’s also a method used by young married couples to have the honeymoon they have always dreamed of.
Student loans aren’t always readily available, nor are they the best option. And while they are usually more preferable to personal loans, they may not provide the coverage that you or your grandchildren need.
In the last decade or so, there has been an over 1,000% increase in the number of senior student loan borrowers. This isn’t the result of an influx of mature learners, but rather it’s because they are assuming debts on behalf of their grandchildren and children, co-signing to help them through college.
Pay for a Major Expense
Life can throw several major and unexpected expenses your way, and if you don’t have any money in your savings, a personal loan may be your only option. Many couples live their lives relatively debt and problem-free until one of the following expenses raises its head and they opt for a personal loan.
Marriage: A marriage is not something that happens unexpectedly, unless you’re a parent and your child is the one getting married. In either case, it’s a massive expense that can cripple you financially, with the average wedding costing over $30,000.
Adoption: The average cost of adoption in the United States ranges from between $40,000 and $50,000. Like a wedding, it’s not necessarily something that happens unexpectedly, but also like a wedding, when the time is right and the need is there, it’s something you feel like you have to do.
Funeral: Funerals can cost upwards of $10,000 and often occur out of the blue. If the deceased is insured or has assets, it’s not a problem, but there are countless people who are not insured, don’t have assets, and die unexpectedly. If you’re the closest person to them, you may find yourself assuming responsibility for their funeral.
Medical Services: If you fall ill and need a specific type of treatment or surgery that your insurance won’t cover, a personal loan could be the only option. Medical treatments are very expensive, and many Americans simply can’t afford to cover these costs out of their own pockets.
Launch a Business
Launching a business is another risky way to use a personal loan, but one that many borrowers are submitting to every year. This is the golden age of entrepreneurs, and there has never been a better time to launch a business.
Of course, grants and business loans are also available, but the former often requires you to work in specific niches and abide by specific terms, while the latter will be weighed against your personal finances if your business is small or new. A personal loan, therefore, may be the only option for business owners seeking to launch a new project.
Alternative Options to Personal Loans
A personal loan isn’t your only option when you need a little cash. You can borrow money through several different avenues, and the best option for you will depend on what you’re using the money for:
You need credit to build credit; you need a credit card or a loan before you can get the FICO score you need to get a credit card or a loan. It can feel like a Catch-22 situation, but it’s not as complicated as it might initially appear.
If you have no credit or bad credit, you may be offered a super high interest rate loan or credit card and that can help you to build a respectable score. However, it’s a risky way to do it and there are many better options out there if your only goal is to build credit.
For loans, you can use something known as a credit builder loan. Much like a reverse loan, a credit builder loan requires you to complete many of the same steps as a traditional loan, only the lender keeps the lump sum amount and moves it to a secured account.
That loan payment earns you a small rate of interest and this helps to offset some of the interest you pay the lender. Every month, you make a payment on the loan, paying some of the principal in addition to the monthly interest, and the lender will report your payments to the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax).
Every month, your score will improve slightly as your payment history receives a boost and then, at the end of the term, they’ll release the lump sum to you, and you’ll get most of your money back (minus the interest) in addition to the credit score boost.
Paying Off Debt
A personal loan is a great way to clear debt, but it’s not necessarily the best option. If you’re struggling to meet your monthly payment obligations, it’s not the right option at all, as your monthly payments will increase as your term decreases.
Instead, you can look into the following options:
Debt Payoff: Sometimes, simple debt payoff strategies like the Debt Avalanche and the Debt Snowball are enough to clear your debt and can do so in a way that won’t cost you dearly or damage your credit score.
Debt Settlement: One of the best and cheapest ways to clear credit card debts, debt settlement works by agreeing reduced settlement amounts with your creditors.
Debt Management: A form of debt consolidation performed by a specialist credit counselor. You will pay less every month and can receive greatly improved terms.
Launching a Business
Once you’ve cut costs, reduced expenses, and considered all possible ways to reduce your initial outlay for a business launch, then it might be time to consider crowdfunding. Sites like Kickstarter can help you to get the funds you need and if you have a good idea or product, along with perks, it can give you capital.
You can also sell shares in your business to friends and family, or simply ask them for a small loan.
Expanding a Business
One of the best loan options for expanding your business is something known as PayPal Working Capital, a program that we have touched upon and praised several times before. If you accept PayPal for your business and have processed many payments through your PayPal account, you’ll be offered a lump sum to help you grow.
The loan amount you’re offered will depend on how much money you receive every month. As for the repayment term, you need to pay 10% of the total every 90 days, and all payments are taken as a percentage of your income. If you opt for $20,000, you may pay a fee of $2,000, taking the total to $22,000, and be asked to pay $2,200 every 90 days for a 20% cut.
This means that for every $1,000 you earn, you’ll pay $200 back to your PayPal Working Capital loan, in addition to the usual PayPal fees. The application process is quick and easy, and you can have the money in your PayPal account in just a few minutes.
Paying for Education
While a personal loan can be a useful option when paying for your education or a family member’s education, student loans often provide better rates and loan terms. They can also cover most of the costs associated with college, although if you need extra money for living costs, then a personal loan can be considered.
Paying for Vacations or Other Expenses
If you are a homeowner and have built substantial equity in your home, then a home equity loan or home equity line of credit may provide you with better loan terms and a much higher loan amount.
A home equity loan or line of credit is a secured loan, as it uses your home as collateral. If you fail to make the payments every month and eventually default on your loan, the lender can simply take your asset and use it to recover the costs of the loan.
As a result, the annual percentage rate is often much lower. You will still need good credit and a respectable debt-to-income ratio to apply, but the best home equity loan is typically much more favorable and cheaper than the best personal loan.
other credit unions, GSCU offers FHA loans to home-buyers who do not qualify for other loan programs. Borrowers may have a high debt-to-income ratio, low credit score, or the inability to put 20 percent down on the home. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) created these types of home loans to grant buyers the opportunity to invest in property. GSCU allows 100 percent of the closing costs to be gifted.
GSCU allows veterans, military members, and their spouses to apply for VA loans. These types of mortgages are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Qualified individuals can make a low down payment on the home and keep up with affordable monthly payments.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) introduced the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) as part of their Making Home Affordable™ initiative. HARP allows eligible homeowners to refinance their mortgages into a lower interest rate to keep their finances secure. HARP provides this opportunity for individuals who otherwise may not qualify for refinancing due to their declining home value.
GSCU Mortgage Customer Experience
Granite State Credit Union offers a variety of online resources that help current and prospective borrowers research home loan options. GSCU’s website contains several mortgage calculators, which assist home-buyers in determining how much they can take out on a home loan.
It also provides information about their different mortgage products, which helps borrowers figure out what type of home loan is right for them. GSCU has a Refer-a-Loan option, which incentivizes borrowers who refer a New Hampshire resident or business owner to procure a loan with the credit union.
In exchange for this referral, both parties can receive $25 for consumer loans or $50 for the mortgage and home equity loans.
GSCU Lender Reputation
Founded in 1945, Granite State Credit Union has provided affordable mortgage rates to New Hampshire residents for over 70 years. Its Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System ID number is 477276.
Since the credit union only services the states of New Hampshire, it does not have many online customer reviews. It is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and has no reviews on the site, but maintains an A+ rating.
GSCU Mortgage Qualifications
Although GSCU has flexible mortgage qualifications for individuals taking out FHA loans, its qualification requirements for individuals requesting other home loans are similar to mortgage industry standards.
First and foremost, the credit union prioritizes credit score when approving someone for a loan or for calculating their rates. FICO reports that the industry-standard credit score is 740. However, those with credit scores above 760 can expect the best mortgage rates.
Ease of approval
620 and below
No credit score
Buyers should typically expect to put 20 percent down on the home, unless they qualify for a government-assisted loan. In some cases, buyers can anticipate paying as little as zero to three percent on their mortgage down payment.
With certain types of loans, such as first-time home-buyer, FHA, and VA loans, GSCU allows borrowers to use gifted funds to make down payments and pay closing costs. However, those taking out a traditional fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage should anticipate paying these costs on their own.
History of GSCU
Granite State Credit Union (GSCU) was founded in 1945 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Founder John Edward Grace, who previously worked as a city bus driver, put down an initial deposit of $15.
With the work put forth by John and his wife, Betty, GSCU achieved notability and success before merging, in late 2003, with the Acorn Credit Union. GSCU is currently a member of the New Hampshire Credit Union League (NHCUL) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA). It offers a selection of home loan products, including fixed- and adjustable-rate, VA, FHA, HARP, and first-time home-buyer loans.
If you live in New Hampshire, GSCU may be a great fit for you! With a variety of mortgage products, GSCU has something to offer for everyone. For more information, visit their website.
Good Financial Cents, and author of the personal finance book Soldier of Finance. Jeff is an Iraqi combat veteran and served 9 years in the Army National Guard. His work is regularly featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc.com and Entrepreneur.
Recent figures from Freddie Mac show that mortgage refinances surged in the first quarter of 2020, with nearly $400 billion first home loans refinanced. However, as it turns out, refinancing your mortgage might actually be more expensive than purchasing a new home.
This surprised us, too — why would there be a difference at all?
We investigated how refinancing rates and new purchase home loan rates are set, and found several reasons for this rate disparity. On top of the rate difference, mortgage refinancing is even more difficult to qualify for, given the current economy.
Refinancing your existing mortgage can absolutely make sense in terms of interest savings, but don’t rule out buying a new home instead.
Before rushing to refinance your home, read on to gather the information you need to make the right financial decision for your situation.
Pandemic Effects on Home Lending
Just as mortgage rates have stumbled, banks and lenders have tightened the screws on borrowers due to COVID-19, requiring higher credit scores and down payment amounts. Chase, for example, raised its minimum FICO score requirements for home purchases and refinances to 700 with a down payment requirement of at least 20%.
Low rates have also driven a massive move to mortgage refinances. According to the same Freddie Mac report, 42% of homeowners who refinanced did so at a higher loan amount so they could “cash out.”
Unfortunately, homeowners who want to refinance might face the same stringent loan requirements as those who are taking out a purchase loan. Mortgage refinance rates are also generally higher than home purchase rates for a handful of reasons, all of which can make refinancing considerably less appealing.
How Refinance Rates Are Priced
Although some lenders might not make it obvious that their refinance rates are higher, others make the higher prices for a home refinance clear. When you head to the mortgage section on the Wells Fargo website, for example, it lists rates for home purchases and refinances separately, with a .625 difference in rates for a thirty-year home loan.
There are a few reasons why big banks might charge higher rates to refinance, including:
Added Refinance Fees
In August of 2020, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced it was tacking on a .5% fee on refinance mortgages starting on September 1. This fee will be assessed on cash-out refinances and no cash-out refinances. According to Freddie Mac, the new fee was introduced “as a result of risk management and loss forecasting precipitated by COVID-19 related economic and market uncertainty.”
By making refinancing more costly, lenders can taper the number of refinance loans they have to process, giving them more time to focus on purchase loans and other business.
Lenders Restraining New Application Volume
Demand for mortgage refinancing has been so high that some lenders are unable to handle all requests. Reluctant to add more employees to handle a surge that won’t last forever, many lenders are simply limiting the number of refinance applications they process, or setting additional terms that limit the number of loans that might qualify.
Also note that some lenders are prioritizing new purchase loans over mortgage refinance applications since new home buyers have deadlines to meet. With the housing market also on an upswing in many parts of the country, many major banks and lenders simply can’t keep up.
Rate Locks Cost Money
Generally speaking, it costs lenders more to lock the rate for refinance loans when compared to purchase loans. This is leaving lenders disinterested in allocating resources on the recent surge in mortgage refinance applications.
This is especially true since many refinancers might lock in a rate with one provider but switch lenders and lock in a rate again if interest rates go down. Lenders exist to turn a profit, after all, and it makes sense they would spend their time on loans that provide the greatest return.
Tighter Requirements Due to COVID-19
According to the Brookings Institute, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been asking lenders to make sure any disruption to a borrower’s employment or income due to COVID-19 won’t impact their ability to repay their loan.
Many lenders are also increasing the minimum credit score borrowers must have while making other requirements harder to meet. As an example, U.S. Bank increased its minimum credit score requirement to 680 for mortgage customers, and it also implemented a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50 percent.
This combination of factors can make it difficult to save as much money with a refinance, or to even find a lender that’s willing to process your application. With this in mind, run the math and to see if refinancing is right for your situation before contacting a mortgage lender.
How Mortgage Purchase Rates Are Priced
Mortgage purchase rates are priced using a similar method as refinance rates. When you apply for a home mortgage, the lender looks at factors like your credit score, your income, your down payment and your other debt to determine your eligibility.
The overall economy also plays a giant role in mortgage rates for home loans, including purchase loans and refinance loans. Mortgage rates tend to go up during periods of speedy economic growth, and they tend to drop during periods of slower economic growth. Meanwhile, inflation can also play a role. Low levels of inflation contribute to lower interest rates on mortgage loans and other financial products.
Mortgage lenders can also price their loans based on the amount of business they have coming in, and whether they have the capacity to process more loans. They might lower rates to drum up business or raise rates when they’re at or nearing capacity. This is part of the reason rates can vary among lenders, and why it always makes sense to shop around for a home loan.
Many people believe that the Federal Reserve sets mortgage rates, but this is not exactly true. The Federal Reserve sets the federal funds rate, which lenders use to ensure they meet mandated cash reserve requirements. When the Fed raises this rate, banks have to pay more to borrow from one another, and these costs are often passed on to consumers. Likewise, costs can go down when the Fed lowers the federal funds rate, which can mean lower costs and interest rates for borrowers.
The Bottom Line
Refinancing your existing mortgage can absolutely make sense in terms of interest savings, but don’t rule out buying a new home instead. Buying a new home could help you save money on interest and get the space and the features you really want.
Remember, there are steps you can take to become a more attractive borrower whether you choose to refinance or invest in a new place. You can’t control the economy or the Federal Reserve, but you have control over your personal finances.
Improving your credit score right away, and paying down debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio are just a couple of strategies to start. And if you’re planning on buying a new home, make sure you save a hefty down payment amount. These steps help you improve your chances at getting the best rates and terms whether you choose to move or stick with the home you have.
You have all kinds of financial goals you want to achieve, but where should you begin? There are so many different aspects of money management that it can be difficult to find a starting point when trying to achieve financial success. If you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Progress can be made in tiny, manageable steps. Here’s are 16 small things you can do right now to improve your overall financial health. (See also: These 13 Numbers Are Crucial to Understanding Your Finances)
1. Create a household budget
The biggest step toward effective money management is making a household budget. You first need to figure out exactly how much money comes in each month. Once you have that number, organize your budget in order of financial priorities: essential living expenses, contributions to retirement savings, repaying debt, and any entertainment or lifestyle costs. Having a clear picture of exactly how much is coming in and going out every month is key to reaching your financial goals.
2. Calculate your net worth
Simply put, your net worth is the total of your assets minus your debts and liabilities. You’re left with a positive or negative number. If the number is positive, you’re on the up and up. If the number is negative — which is especially common for young people just starting out — you’ll need to keep chipping away at debt.
Remember that certain assets, like your home, count on both sides of the ledger. While you may have mortgage debt, it is secured by the resale value of your home. (See also: 10 Ways to Increase Your Net Worth This Year)
3. Review your credit reports
Your credit history determines your creditworthiness, including the interest rates you pay on loans and credit cards. It can also affect your employment opportunities and living options. Every 12 months, you can check your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) for free at annualcreditreport.com. It may also be a good idea to request one report from one bureau every four months, so you can keep an eye on your credit throughout the year without paying for it.
Regularly checking your credit report will help you stay on top of every account in your name and can alert you to fraudulent activity.
4. Check your credit score
Your FICO score can range from 300-850. The higher the score, the better. Keep in mind that two of the most important factors that go into making up your credit score are your payment history, specifically negative information, and how much debt you’re carrying: the type of debts, and how much available credit you have at any given time. (See also: How to Boost Your Credit Score in Just 30 Days)
5. Set a monthly savings amount
Transferring a set amount of money to a savings account at the same time you pay your other monthly bills helps ensure that you’re regularly and intentionally saving money for the future. Waiting to see if you have any money left over after paying for all your other discretionary lifestyle expenses can lead to uneven amounts or no savings at all.
6. Make minimum payments on all debts
The first step to maintaining a good credit standing is to avoid making late payments. Build your minimum debt reduction payments into your budget. Then, look for any extra money you can put toward paying down debt principal. (See also: The Fastest Way to Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt)
7. Increase your retirement saving rate by 1 percent
Your retirement savings and saving rate are the most important determinants of your overall financial success. Strive to save 15 percent of your income for most of your career for retirement, and that includes any employer match you may receive. If you’re not saving that amount yet, plan ahead for ways you can reach that goal. For example, increase your saving rate every time you get a bonus or raise.
8. Open an IRA
An IRA is an easy and accessible retirement savings vehicle that anyone with earned income can access (although you can’t contribute to a traditional IRA past age 70½). Unlike an employer-sponsored account, like a 401(k), an IRA gives you access to unlimited investment choices and is not attached to any particular employer. (See also: Stop Believing These 5 Myths About IRAs)
9. Update your account beneficiaries
Certain assets, like retirement accounts and insurance policies, have their own beneficiary designations and will be distributed based on who you have listed on those documents — not necessarily according to your estate planning documents. Review these every year and whenever you have a major life event, like a marriage.
10. Review your employer benefits
The monetary value of your employment includes your salary in addition to any other employer-provided benefits. Consider these extras part of your wealth-building tools and review them on a yearly basis. For example, a Flexible Spending Arrangement (FSA) can help pay for current health care expenses through your employer and a Health Savings Account (HSA) can help you pay for medical expenses now and in retirement. (See also: 8 Myths About Health Savings Accounts — Debunked!)
11. Review your W-4
The W-4 form you filled out when you first started your job dictates how much your employer withholds for taxes — and you can make changes to it. If you get a refund at tax time, adjusting your tax withholdings can be an easy way to increase your take-home pay. Also, remember to review this form when you have a major life event, like a marriage or after the birth of a child. (See also: Are You Withholding the Right Amount of Taxes from Your Paycheck?)
12. Ponder your need for life insurance
In general, if someone is dependent upon your income, then you may need a life insurance policy. When determining how much insurance you need, consider protecting assets and paying off all outstanding debts, as well as retirement and college costs. (See also: 15 Surprising Insurance Policies You Might Need)
13. Check your FDIC insurance coverage
First, make sure that the banking institutions you use are FDIC insured. For credit unions, you’ll want to confirm it’s a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) federally-covered institution. Federal deposit insurance protects up to $250,000 of your deposits for each type of bank account you have. To determine your account coverage at a single bank or various banks, visit FDIC.gov.
14. Check your Social Security statements
Set up an online account at SSA.gov to confirm your work and income history and to get an idea of what types of benefits, if any, you’re entitled to — including retirement and disability.
15. Set one financial goal to achieve it by the end of the year
An important part of financial success is recognizing where you need to focus your energy in terms of certain financial goals, like having a fully funded emergency account, for example.
If you’re overwhelmed by trying to simultaneously work on reaching all of your goals, pick one that you can focus on and achieve it by the end of the year. Examples include paying off a credit card, contributing to an IRA, or saving $500.
16. Take a one-month spending break
Unfortunately, you can never take a break from paying your bills, but you do have complete control over how you spend your discretionary income. And that may be the only way to make some progress toward some of your savings goals. Try trimming some of your lifestyle expenses for just one month to cushion your checking or savings account. You could start by bringing your own lunch to work every day or meal-planning for the week to keep your grocery bill lower and forgo eating out. (See also: How a Simple “Do Not Buy” List Keeps Money in Your Pocket)
College Ave offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students as well as parents who want to take out loans to help their kids get through college. Variable APRs as low as 3.70% are available for undergraduate students, but you can also opt for a fixed rate as low as 4.72% if you have excellent credit. College Ave offers some of the most flexible repayment options available today, letting you choose from interest-only payments, flat payments, and deferred payments depending on your needs. College Ave even lets you fill out your entire student loan application online, and they offer an array of helpful tools that can help you figure out how much you can afford to borrow, what your monthly payment will be, and more.
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#2: Credible — Best Loan Comparison
Credible doesn’t offer its own student loans; instead, it serves as a loan aggregator and comparison site. This means that, when you check out student loans on Credible, you have the benefit of comparing multiple loan options in one place. Not only is this convenient, but comparing rates and terms is the best way to ensure you get a good deal. Credible even lets you get prequalified without a hard inquiry on your credit report, and you can see loan offers from up to nine student lenders at a time. Fixed interest rates start as low as 4.40% for borrowers with excellent credit, and variable rates start at 3.17% APR with autopay.
Compare Dozens of Rates at Once with Credible
#3: Sallie Mae — Best for Low Rates and Fees
Sallie Mae offers its own selection of private student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents. Interest rates offered can be surprisingly low, starting at 2.87% APR for variable rate loans and 4.74% for fixed-rate loans. Sallie Mae student loans also come without an origination fee or prepayment fees, as well as rate reductions for students who set up autopay. You can choose to start repaying your student loans while you’re in school or wait until you graduate as well. Overall, Sallie Mae offers some of the best “deals” for private student loans, and you can even complete the entire loan process online.
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#4: Discover — Best for No Fees
While Discover is well known for their excellent rewards credit cards and personal loan offerings, they also offer high-quality student loans with low rates and fees. Not only do Discover student loans come with low variable rates that start at 3.75%, but you won’t pay an application fee, an origination fee, or late fees. Discover student loans are available for undergraduate students, graduate students, professional students, and other lifelong learners. You can even earn rewards for having a 3.0 GPA or better when you apply for your loan, and Discover offers access to U.S. based student loan specialists who can answer all your questions before you apply.
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#5: Citizens Bank — Best Student Loans from a Major Bank
Citizens Bank offers their own flexible student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parent borrowers. Students can borrow with or without a cosigner and multi-year approval is available. With multi-year approval you can apply for student funding one time and secure several years of college funding at once. This saves you from additional paperwork and subsequent hard inquiries on your credit report. Citizens Bank student loans come with variable rates as low as 2.83% APR for students with excellent credit, and you can make full payments or interest-only payments while you’re in school or wait until you graduate to begin repaying your loan. Also keep in mind that, like others on this list, Citizens Bank lets you apply for their student loans online and from the comfort of your home.
#6: Ascent — Best Student Loans with No Cosigner Required
Ascent is another popular lender that offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. Variable interest rates start at 3.31% whether you have a cosigner or not, and there are no application fees required to apply for a student loan either way. Terms are available for 5 to 15 years, and Ascent even offers cash rewards for student borrowers who graduate and meet certain terms. Also note that Ascent lets you earn money for each friend you refer who takes out a new student loan or refinances an existing loan.
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#7: Earnest — Best for Fair Credit
Earnest is another online lender that offers reasonable student loans for undergraduate and graduate students who need to borrow money for school. They also offer a free application process, a 9-month grace period after graduation, no origination fees or prepayment fees, and a .25% rate discount when you set up autopay. Earnest even lets you skip a payment once per year without a penalty, and there are no late payment fees. Variable rates start as low as 3.35%, and you may be able to qualify for a loan from Earnest with only “fair” credit. For their student loan refinancing products, for example, you need a minimum credit score of 650 to apply.
Learn Your Rate in Minutes with Earnest
#8: LendKey — Best for Comprehensive Comparisons
LendKey is an online lending marketplace that lets you compare student loan options across a broad range of loan providers, including credit unions. LendKey loans come with no application fees and variable APRs as low as 4.05%. They also have excellent reviews on Trustpilot and an easy application process that makes applying for a student loan online a breeze. You can apply for a loan from LendKey as an individual, but it’s possible you’ll get better rates with a cosigner on board. Either way, LendKey lets you see and compare a wide range of loan offers in one place and with only one application submitted.
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How to Get the Best Student Loans
The lenders above offer some of the best student loans available today, but there’s more to getting a good loan than just choosing the right student loan company. The following tips can ensure you save money on your education and escape college with the smallest student loan burden possible.
Consider Federal Student Loans First
Like we mentioned already, federal student loans are almost always the best deal for borrowers who can qualify. Not only do federal loans come with low fixed interest rates, but they come with borrower protections like deferment and forbearance. Federal student loans also let you qualify for income-driven repayment plans like Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income Based Repayment (IBR) as well as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Compare Multiple Lenders
If you have exhausted federal student loans and need to take out a private student loan, the best step you can take is comparing loans across multiple lenders. Some may be able to offer you a lower interest rate based on your credit score or available cosigner, and some lenders may offer payment plans that meet your needs better. If you only want to fill out a loan application once, it can make sense to compare multiple loan offers with a service like Credible.
Improve Your Credit Score
Private student loans are notoriously difficult to qualify for when your credit score is less than stellar or you don’t have a cosigner. With that in mind, you may want to spend some time improving your credit score before you apply. Since your payment history and the amounts you owe in relation to your credit limits are the two most important factors that make up your FICO score, make sure you’re paying all your bills early or on time and try to pay down debt to improve your credit utilization. Most experts say a utilization rate of 30% or less will help you achieve the highest credit score possible with other factors considered.
Check Your Credit Score for Free with Experian
Get a Quality Cosigner
If your credit score isn’t at least “very good,” or 740 or higher, you may want to see about getting a cosigner for your private student loan. A parent, family member, or close family friend who has excellent credit can help you qualify for a student loan with the best rates and terms available today. Just remember that your cosigner will be liable for your loan just as you are, meaning they will have to repay your loan if you default. With that in mind, you should only lean on a cosigner’s help if you plan to repay your loan amount in full.
Consider Variable and Fixed Interest Rates
While private student loans offer insanely low rates for borrowers with good credit, their variable rates tend to be lower. This is why you should always take the time to compare variable and fixed rates across multiple lenders to find the best deal. If you believe you can pay your student loans off in a few short years, a variable interest rate may help you save money. If you need a decade or longer to pay your student loans off, on the other hand, a low fixed interest rate may provide you with more peace of mind.
Check for Discounts
As you compare student loan providers, make sure to check for discounts that might apply to your situation. Many private student loan companies offer discounts if you set your loan up on automatic payments, for example. Some also offer discounts or rewards for good grades or for referring friends. It’s possible you could qualify for other discounts as well depending on the provider, but you’ll never know unless you check.
Beware of Fees
While the interest rate on your student loan plays a huge role in your long-term loan costs, don’t forget to check for additional fees. Some student loan companies charge application fees or prepayment penalties if you pay your loan off early, for example. Others charge origination fees that tack on a few additional percentage points to your loan amount right off the bat. If you can find a student loan with a low interest rate and no additional fees, you’ll be much better off. Since loan fees may not be prominently advertised on student loan provider websites, however, keep in mind that you may need to dig into their fine print to find them.
Make Payments While You’re in School
Finally, no matter which loan you end up with, it makes a lot of sense to make payments while you’re still in school if you’re earning any kind of income. Even if you make interest-only payments while you attend college part-time or full-time, you can save yourself from paying thousands of dollars in additional interest payments later in life. Remember that compound interest can be a blessing or a curse. If you can keep interest at bay by making payments while you’re in school, you can squash compound interest and keep your loan balances from growing. If you let compound interest run its course, on the other hand, you may wind up owing more than you borrowed in the first place by the time you graduate school and start repayment.
What to Watch Out For
A private student loan may be exactly what you need in order to finish your degree and move up to the working world, but there are plenty of “gotchas” to be aware of. Consider all these factors as you apply for a new private student loan or refinance existing loans you have with a private lender.
Interest that accrues while you’re in school: Remember that subsidized loans may not accrue interest until you graduate from college and enter repayment mode, but that unsubsidized loans typically start accruing interest right away. Since private student loans are unsubsidized, you’ll need to be especially careful about ballooning interest and long-term loan costs.
Getting a cosigner: Make sure you only apply for a private student loan with a cosigner if you’re entirely sure you can repay your loan over the long haul. If you fail to keep up with your end of the bargain, you could destroy trust with that person and their credit score in one fell swoop.
You’ll lose out on some protections: Also remember that private student loans come with fewer protections than federal student loans. You won’t have the option for income-driven repayment plans with private loans, nor will you be able to qualify for federal deferment or forbearance. For this reason, private student loans are best for students who are confident in their ability to repay their loans on their chosen timeline.
A good credit history means good rates on loans and other credit facilities. Once damaged though, rebuilding your credit can be difficult. However, you can get started by using a secured credit card that is easier to acquire than most other lines of credit. In this post, we shall look at how to increase your credit score with a secured credit card.
Difference between a Secured and Unsecured Credit Card
Unsecured credit cards are the common type and only require a look at your credit history for approval. When your credit history is not favorable, your lender may issue you with a secured credit card.
Unlike the former, instead of referring to your financial history, secured credit cards require you to deposit collateral. The amount of your security deposit determines what your credit limit will be. And in case you default on your payments, the issuer uses your deposit to recoup their money.
How to Increase Your Score Using a Secured Credit Card
Building your credit score is all about using your available credit smartly. Here is how:
1) Only use what you can settle monthly
A secured credit card allows you to show lenders that you can be financially responsible. The easiest way of doing this is by making small purchases and settling your bills in full by the end of every month. In doing so, your payment history, which accounts for 35% of your FICO Score, improves.
Additionally, whenever possible, pay more than the required minimum to ensure that your balance remains low. The reason being, beyond showing that you can handle your finances properly, your credit utilization ratio (CUR) will reduce.
30% of your credit score is derived from this ratio, which is calculated as your debt divided by your credit limit.
Also, by being timely with your payments and paying over the minimum, you keep off from paying hefty interests on your credit purchases.
2) Make several payments per month
Your lenders continually send your financial reports periodically to the three credit bureaus; TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
However, financial institutions and lenders are not obligated to inform you when they send your report. So, you could be making payments at the end of the month while they submit reports mid-month. As such, your credit repayment record may be affected negatively.
Keep this effect at a minimum by making multiple payments in the course of the month. This will ensure that your balance is strategically low. For the same reason, after large purchases, ensure that you send money to your credit account.
3) Go for a low interest Secured credit card
Building credit starts with striving to repay what you owe. This can be hampered by getting a card with high-interest rates. Make meeting your card obligations easy by shopping for a card with low interest.
Typically, credit unions offer better deals on cards than banks. Also, go for cards with something extra to offer. Apart from the basic features, apply for cards with standout features like cashback rewards and larger limits than your security deposit.
4) Choose the right card
None of the above will work if your card issuer does not report card activities to the credit bureaus. What you need to understand is that unlike other savings accounts or debit accounts, not all secured credit card issuers submit reports. So, before you apply for a card, ensure that your account usage will be reported.
Secured credit cards can present you with a new chance to grow your credit. But just like other cards, they are prone to misuse. The trick is in shopping for the best deals and using the card diligently: Do not max out the card, carry a balance, or get more cards than you can manage.
When you think “credit score,” you probably think “FICO.” The Fair Isaac Corporation introduced its FICO scoring system in 1989, and it has since become one of the best-known and most-used credit scoring models in the United States. But it isn’t the only model on the market.
Another popular option is called VantageScore, the product of a collaboration between the three major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It uses similar scoring methods to FICO but yields slightly different results.
Each scoring model has multiple versions and multiple applications—you don’t have just one FICO score or one VantageScore. Depending on which bureau creates the score and what type of agency is asking for the score, your credit score will vary, sometimes siginifcantly. One credit score isn’t more “accurate” than another, they just have different applications. Learn more about the different types of credit scores below.
When you sign up for ExtraCredit, you can see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus. Your free Credit Report Card, on the other hand, will show you your Experian VantageScore 3.0.
What Is a VantageScore?
VantageScore was created by the three major credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. It uses similar scoring methods to FICO but yields slightly different results.
One of the primary goals of VantageScore is to provide a model that is used the same way by all three credit bureaus. That would limit some of the disparity between your three major credit scores. In contrast, FICO models provide a slightly different calculation for each credit bureau, which can create more differences in your scores.
FICO vs. VantageScore
So, what are the differences between an Experian credit score calculated using VantageScore and one calculated via the FICO model? More importantly, does the score used matter to you, the consumer? The answer is usually no. But you might want to look at different scores for different needs or goals.
Is Experian Accurate?
Credit scores from the credit bureaus are only as accurate as the information provided to the bureau. Check your credit report to ensure all the information is correct. If it is, your Experian credit scores are accurate. If your credit report is not accurate, you’ll want to look into your credit repair options.
Our free Credit Report Card offers the Experian VantageScore 3.0 so you can check it regularly. If you want to dig in deeper, you can sign up for ExtraCredit. For $24.99 per month, you can see 28 of your FICO scores from all three credit bureaus. ExtraCredit also offers rent and utility reporting, identity monitoring and theft insurance, and more.
Understanding the Scoring Models
FICO and VantageScore aren’t the only scoring models on the market. Lenders use a multitude of scoring methods to determine your creditworthiness and make decisions about whether or not to give you credit. Despite the numerous options, FICO scores and VantageScores are likely the only scores you’ll ever see yourself.
Here’s what FICO uses to determine your credit score:
Payment history. Whether or not you pay your bills in a timely manner is critical, as this factor makes up around 35% of your score.
Credit usage. How much of your open credit you have used—which is called credit utilization—accounts for 30% of your score. Keeping your utilization below 30% can help you keep your credits core healthy.
Length of credit. The average age of your credit—and how long you’ve had your oldest account—is a factor. Credit age accounts for around 15% of your score.
Types of credit. Your credit mix, which refers to having multiple types of accounts, makes up around 10% of your score.
Recent inquiries. How many entities have hit your credit history with a hard inquiry for the purpose of evaluating you for credit is a factor for your score. It accounts for about 10% of your credit score.
VantageScore uses the same factors, but weighs them a little differently. Your VantageScore 4.0 will be most influenced by your credit usage, followed by your credit mix. Payment history is only “moderately influential,” while credit age and recent inquiries are less influential.
Each company also gathers its data differently. FICO bases its scoring model on credit data from millions of consumers analyzed at the same time. It gathers credit reports from the three major credit bureaus and analyzes anonymous consumer data to generate a scoring model specific to each bureau. VantageScore, on the other hand, uses a combined set of consumer credit files, also obtained from the three major credit bureaus, to come up with a single formula.
Both FICO and VantageScore issue scores ranging from 300 to 850. In the past, VantageScore used a score range of 501 to 990, but the score range was adjusted with VantageScore 3.0. Having numerical ranges that are somewhat consistent helps make the credit score process less confusing for consumers and lenders.
Your score may also differ across the credit bureaus because your creditors aren’t required to report to all three. They may report to only one or two of them, meaning each bureau likely has slightly different information about you.
Variations in Scoring Requirements
If you don’t have a long credit history, VantageScore is the score you want to monitor. To establish your credit score, FICO requires at least six months of credit history and at least one account reported to a credit bureau within the last six months. VantageScore only requires one month of history and one account reported within the past two years.
Because VantageScore uses a shorter credit history and a longer period for reported accounts, it’s able to issue credit ratings to millions of consumers who wouldn’t yet have a FICO Score. So, if you’re new to credit or haven’t been using it recently, VantageScore can help prove your trustworthiness before FICO has enough data to issue you a score.
The Significance of Late Payments
A history of late payments impacts both your FICO score and your VantageScore. Both models consider the following.
How recently the last late payment occurred
How many of your accounts have had late payments
How many payments you’ve missed on an account
FICO treats all late payments the same. VantageScore judges them differently. VantageScore applies a larger penalty for late mortgage payments than for other types of credit payments.
Because FICO has indicated that it factors late payments more heavily than VantageScore, late payments on any of your accounts might cause you to have lower FICO scores than your VantageScores.
Impact of Credit Inquiries
VantageScore and FICO both penalize consumers who have multiple hard inquiries in a short period of time. They both also conduct a process called deduplication.
Deduplication is the practice of allowing multiple pulls on your credit for the same loan type in a given time frame without penalizing your credit. Deduplication is important for situations such as seeking auto loans, where you may submit applications to multiple lenders as you seek the best deal. FICO and VantageScore don’t count each of these inquiries separately—they deduplicate them or consider them as one inquiry.
FICO uses a 45-day deduplication time period. That means credit inquiries of a certain type—such as auto loans or mortgages—that hit within that period are counted as one hard inquiry for the purpose of impact to your credit.
In contrast, VantageScore only has a 14-day range for deduplication. However, it deduplicates multiple hard inquiries for all types of credit, including credit cards. FICO only deduplicates inquiries related to mortgages, auto loans, and student loans.
Influence of Low-Balance Collections
VantageScore and FICO both penalize credit scores for accounts sent to collection agencies. However, FICO sometimes offers more leniency for collection accounts with low balances or limits.
FICO 8.0 also ignores all collections where the original balance was less than $100 and FICO 9.0 weighs medical collections less. It also doesn’t count collection accounts that have been paid off. VantageScore 4.0, on the other hand, ignores collection accounts that are paid off, regardless of the original balance.
What Are FAKO Scores?
FAKO is a derogatory term for scores that aren’t FICO Scores or VantageScores. Companies that provide FAKO scores don’t call them this. Instead, they refer to their scores as “educational scores” or just “credit scores.” FAKO scores can vary significantly from FICO scores and VantageScores.
These scores aren’t completely valueless, though. They can help you understand where your credit score stands or whether it’s going up or down. You probably don’t want to shell out money for such scores, though, and you do want to ensure the credit score provider is drawing on accurate information from the credit bureaus.