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Boosting Your Credit Score Before Applying for an Auto Loan

Photo of a person holding a clipboard with the words boost your credit written on it

If you’re planning to buy a car and need financing, your credit score will play a pivotal role in the kind of deal you can secure. A higher credit score can unlock lower interest rates, better loan terms, and can save you a substantial amount over the life of the loan. If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, don’t despair. Here’s a guide to boosting your credit score before you apply for that auto loan:

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1. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

  • Action: Obtain a free copy of your credit report from major credit bureaus.
  • Reason: Mistakes in your credit report can drag down your score. Look for errors such as wrong accounts, late payments that you remember paying on time, or debts you don’t recognize.

 

2. Pay Down Outstanding Debts

  • Action: Focus on reducing your credit card balances first.
  • Reason: Credit utilization ratio (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is a significant factor in your credit score. Aim to keep this ratio below 30%.

 

3. Pay Your Bills On Time

  • Action: Set up reminders or automatic payments.
  • Reason: Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, making it the most substantial factor. One missed payment can significantly impact your score.

 

4. Avoid New Hard Inquiries

  • Action: Hold off on applying for any new credit or loans.
  • Reason: Each application can result in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily lower your score. Several inquiries in a short span can suggest to lenders like TD Bank that you’re a high-risk borrower.

 

5. Become an Authorized User

  • Action: Get added to a family member’s or close friend’s credit card account.
  • Reason: If they have a good credit history with that card, it can reflect positively on your credit report.

 

6. Don’t Close Old Credit Cards

  • Action: Even if you don’t use them, keep them open.
  • Reason: Closing a card can affect your credit utilization ratio and shorten your credit history’s average age, both of which can negatively impact your score.

 

7. Negotiate with Creditors

  • Action: If you have any past-due accounts, reach out and see if you can settle them or get them removed.
  • Reason: Removing negative marks can provide a decent boost to your score.

 

8. Settle Any Outstanding Non-Credit Bills

  • Action: Pay off any overdue utility bills, medical bills, or library fines.
  • Reason: These can be sent to collections and can then appear on your credit report, dragging down your score.

 

9. Use a Secured Credit Card

  • Action: If you can’t get a traditional credit card due to a low score, consider a secured card where you deposit money as collateral.
  • Reason: Regular use and on-time payments can help improve your credit profile.

 

10. Diversify Your Credit Mix

  • Action: If all you have are credit cards, consider a small personal loan.
  • Reason: A varied mix of credit types can be beneficial for your score, though this factor has a smaller impact than others.

 

Conclusion

Improving your credit score doesn’t happen overnight. However, by being proactive and taking steps to address the factors that impact your score, you can make significant improvements over time. When you’re ready to apply for that auto loan, your foresight and hard work will pay off with better loan terms and potentially thousands of dollars in savings.

 

1. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

  • Action: Obtain a free copy of your credit report from major credit bureaus.
  • Reason: Mistakes in your credit report can drag down your score. Look for errors such as wrong accounts, late payments that you remember paying on time, or debts you don’t recognize.

 

2. Pay Down Outstanding Debts

  • Action: Focus on reducing your credit card balances first.
  • Reason: Credit utilization ratio (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is a significant factor in your credit score. Aim to keep this ratio below 30%.

 

3. Pay Your Bills On Time

  • Action: Set up reminders or automatic payments.
  • Reason: Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, making it the most substantial factor. One missed payment can significantly impact your score.

 

4. Avoid New Hard Inquiries

  • Action: Hold off on applying for any new credit or loans.
  • Reason: Each application can result in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily lower your score. Several inquiries in a short span can suggest to lenders like TD Bank that you’re a high-risk borrower.

 

5. Become an Authorized User

  • Action: Get added to a family member’s or close friend’s credit card account.
  • Reason: If they have a good credit history with that card, it can reflect positively on your credit report.

 

6. Don’t Close Old Credit Cards

  • Action: Even if you don’t use them, keep them open.
  • Reason: Closing a card can affect your credit utilization ratio and shorten your credit history’s average age, both of which can negatively impact your score.

 

7. Negotiate with Creditors

  • Action: If you have any past-due accounts, reach out and see if you can settle them or get them removed.
  • Reason: Removing negative marks can provide a decent boost to your score.

 

8. Settle Any Outstanding Non-Credit Bills

  • Action: Pay off any overdue utility bills, medical bills, or library fines.
  • Reason: These can be sent to collections and can then appear on your credit report, dragging down your score.

 

9. Use a Secured Credit Card

  • Action: If you can’t get a traditional credit card due to a low score, consider a secured card where you deposit money as collateral.
  • Reason: Regular use and on-time payments can help improve your credit profile.

 

10. Diversify Your Credit Mix

  • Action: If all you have are credit cards, consider a small personal loan.
  • Reason: A varied mix of credit types can be beneficial for your score, though this factor has a smaller impact than others.

 

Conclusion

Improving your credit score doesn’t happen overnight. However, by being proactive and taking steps to address the factors that impact your score, you can make significant improvements over time. When you’re ready to apply for that auto loan, your foresight and hard work will pay off with better loan terms and potentially thousands of dollars in savings.

 

1. Check Your Credit Report for Errors

  • Action: Obtain a free copy of your credit report from major credit bureaus.
  • Reason: Mistakes in your credit report can drag down your score. Look for errors such as wrong accounts, late payments that you remember paying on time, or debts you don’t recognize.

 

2. Pay Down Outstanding Debts

  • Action: Focus on reducing your credit card balances first.
  • Reason: Credit utilization ratio (the percentage of available credit you’re using) is a significant factor in your credit score. Aim to keep this ratio below 30%.

 

3. Pay Your Bills On Time

  • Action: Set up reminders or automatic payments.
  • Reason: Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, making it the most substantial factor. One missed payment can significantly impact your score.

 

4. Avoid New Hard Inquiries

  • Action: Hold off on applying for any new credit or loans.
  • Reason: Each application can result in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily lower your score. Several inquiries in a short span can suggest to lenders like TD Bank that you’re a high-risk borrower.

 

5. Become an Authorized User

  • Action: Get added to a family member’s or close friend’s credit card account.
  • Reason: If they have a good credit history with that card, it can reflect positively on your credit report.

 

6. Don’t Close Old Credit Cards

  • Action: Even if you don’t use them, keep them open.
  • Reason: Closing a card can affect your credit utilization ratio and shorten your credit history’s average age, both of which can negatively impact your score.

 

7. Negotiate with Creditors

  • Action: If you have any past-due accounts, reach out and see if you can settle them or get them removed.
  • Reason: Removing negative marks can provide a decent boost to your score.

 

8. Settle Any Outstanding Non-Credit Bills

  • Action: Pay off any overdue utility bills, medical bills, or library fines.
  • Reason: These can be sent to collections and can then appear on your credit report, dragging down your score.

 

9. Use a Secured Credit Card

  • Action: If you can’t get a traditional credit card due to a low score, consider a secured card where you deposit money as collateral.
  • Reason: Regular use and on-time payments can help improve your credit profile.

 

10. Diversify Your Credit Mix

  • Action: If all you have are credit cards, consider a small personal loan.
  • Reason: A varied mix of credit types can be beneficial for your score, though this factor has a smaller impact than others.

 

Conclusion

Improving your credit score doesn’t happen overnight. However, by being proactive and taking steps to address the factors that impact your score, you can make significant improvements over time. When you’re ready to apply for that auto loan, your foresight and hard work will pay off with better loan terms and potentially thousands of dollars in savings.

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See if you qualify in under 60 seconds