AmeriCredit Offers Tips for Improving Your Credit Score; National Credit Education Week is April 18-23FORT WORTH, Texas--April 18, 2005--If you're thinking about buying a house or car, applying for a credit card or even purchasing insurance, there are three digits you need to know. Those digits make up your credit score and influence nearly every important financial transaction you make.
Many lenders rely on a credit-scoring system that ranges from 350 (poor credit risk) to 850 (excellent credit risk) and is based on more than 30 pieces of information, including a person's payment history, the amount they owe all their creditors and the length of their credit history. Your credit score serves as a quick, objective and reliable predictor of how likely you are to repay your next loan on time. This means consumers with low scores generally receive higher interest rates, and those with better scores usually get lower rates.
"Today, one-third of people who seek automotive financing have some blemishes on their credit records," says Steve Bowman, Chief Credit and Risk Officer at AmeriCredit, one of the nation's leading independent auto finance companies. "Any time you open a new credit card, apply for a loan or fail to make a payment on time, that information is reported to the bureaus and affects your score."
In recognition of National Credit Education Week (April 18-23), Bowman offers the following tips for improving your credit score:
1. Pay your bills on time. If you have missed payments, get current on your bills and stay current. Delinquent payments have an extremely negative impact on your score. Remember, you can usually ask your creditor to move the due date of your bills to a different time of the month. If that would help you pay on time, consider that option.
2. If you can't pay off the balances of your credit cards each month, meet the minimum monthly payments. Paying the minimums consistently and on time will help improve your score.
3. Don't hit all your credit limits. Using a large percentage of your available credit is a warning sign that you are stretching your limitations. Some experts recommend keeping your balances at 50 percent of your credit limit or less.
4. Close accounts you don't use, except for some of your oldest accounts. Lenders may see open accounts that aren't being used as a risk that you could go on a spending spree and overextend yourself. Closing your oldest accounts, however, may make your credit history appear shorter. When deciding which accounts to close, consider closing the accounts with annual fees or the highest interest rates first.
5. Educate yourself. Visit consumer Web sites to learn more about your credit and what affects it. To get started, visit www.americredit.com and click on "online credit center." While there, you can read informative articles, purchase your credit report from the three major credit reporting agencies, learn how to correct errors on your report and sign up to monitor your credit for potential identity theft. You can also register for a free credit newsletter.
AmeriCredit Corp. is a leading independent auto finance company. Using its branch network and strategic alliances with auto groups and banks, the Company purchases retail installment contracts entered into by auto dealers with consumers who are typically unable to obtain financing from traditional sources. AmeriCredit has approximately 1 million customers and $11 billion in managed auto receivables. The Company was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information, visit www.americredit.com.