You may not find out how bad your credit really is until you apply for a mortgage. Then you will quickly realize that the low interest rates everybody raves about these days, the rates that are a big part of the rising prices of real estate across America, don’t apply to everyone. To be specific, they don’t apply to you! If you have bad credit, you are not going to receive the same low interest rates on your home loan that your neighbor with good credit will.
Why not, you may ask. Well, here’s the thing. If your credit score is poor, banks and other financial institutions consider you to be a risky business partner. In order to lend you money, they have to insure themselves against the risk that you may default on payments. They do this by offering you a higher interest rate so their end of the deal looks a bit sweeter. For you, though, it means higher monthly payments and that you can afford to borrow less money than if your credit was better.
If you don’t even know if you’re considered a credit risk or not, don’t you think it’s time you found out? This is one of the smartest moves you can make, business wise, as it affects not only your mortgage but the interest rates you get on your credit cards, car payments and virtually every financial agreement you enter into.
Checking your credit score
When banks and others want to ascertain what kind of credit risk you may pose, they will consult your FICO score before doing anything. The FICO is like a report card of your credit. Your FICO score is a three digit number ranging from 300-850. You actually have three separate FICO scores, one for each credit bureau – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These may not show the same score, since not every creditor reports to all three credit bureaus.
In order to make sure you see the same thing that your eventual creditors are seeing, order all three of your fico scores. Study them carefully. You look at the total score, naturally, but you also want to scrutinize the details carefully. Maybe that rent check last year that you sent in one week too late was never registered properly. This will definitely affect your overall score.
If you do find any errors in the reports, make sure to contact those responsible for that specific record and ask them to correct the entry. If you are lucky, a couple of phone calls will make a real difference in your credit score!