Your personal credit score affects many spheres of life. Aside from accessible loans and insurance, it determines what apartments you can rent. If you are looking for rentals in Boston, check your score beforehand and improve it if necessary. While there are no universal criteria, most tenants expect at least 650 points.
When landlords consider applications, they are more likely to accept tenants with a positive track record. A score is a reflection of your credit past and your ability to meet obligations. The lower it is, the higher the risk in the eyes of the landlord. While this is not the only criteria they will use (tax forms and pay stubs also matter), it is surely consequential. Ask the landlord directly about their requirements.
The two most common assessment systems in the United States are FICO and VantageScore. Both have a scale from 300 to 850. Once you reach 800 points, you automatically get the best conditions - lenders do not even price their products for the "excellent" category. However, you do not have to rise that high to qualify for an apartment.
Personal scores are calculated based on a mix of factors. Both systems use a similar combination which includes your prior payments, the total amount owed, age of credit file, new accounts, and experience with different credit products. Your history comprises the reports built by Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion using the information shared by your creditors. Companies like Credit Saint reviewed by Ricky Ingram boost personal scores by correcting these files.
If you can't get a loan because of your score, landlords are likely to turn you down, too. To check your status, go to My FICO or use a personal finance app like Credit Karma. To check all three reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized source. It is not necessary to contact each of the bureaus separately. Submit basic personal information, including your Social Security number, and download the files to see what data underlies the total.
Scores can be raised in two ways - through repair or rebuilding. The first scenario applies to situations when one or more reports contain mistakes. This is more common than you may think: on average, a third of Americans suffer from unfair credit assessments. If the data is correct, all you can do is change your financial habits and generate positive history to mitigate the effects of past mistakes.
This may take between two and six months depending on the number of errors and bureaus involved. Every agency works independently, so each version of your history is unique, and all of them may be erroneous. You may handle disputes yourself or delegate the job to credit repair providers who will do everything on your behalf. The second option is preferable if you do not have the time, patience, or competence to find disputable entries, collect convincing evidence and liaise with the bureaus. This will cost you between $79.99 and $129.95 per month.
Repair is a multistage process. Professionals will do everything for you, while you monitor their progress through a web portal or app. The key steps include:
Every dispute launches an investigation. The bureau will liaise with your lenders and collectors (if necessary) to verify the items challenged. Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act, it is obliged to remove any unsubstantiated details. If this happens, your score will jump automatically. Every reporting agency has 30 days to establish the truth, but this period is extended to 45 days in special cases.
If there is nothing to fix, look at the components behind the total. You can work with different elements of the formula to achieve a boost. Here are some of the quickest remedies.
Your debt-to-credit ratio on credit cards is extremely important. Experts recommend using no more than 10% of your available limits across the accounts (30% according to other sources). Utilization is calculated as the sum of balances divided by the sum of limits. There are different ways to bring it down.
Obviously, you can achieve the goal by paying off some or all of the debt. If you cannot afford it, make at least the minimum payments and ask for a limit extension. Alternatively, get a new credit card from a different issue. Its limit will also contribute to your score. Secured credit cards are the easiest to get, as they require a deposit.
Finally, you could ask a friend or family member with a positive borrowing history to include you as an authorized user on their credit card account. Explain that you are not going to use their money, and this is only necessary to adjust the score.
This free service lets you add 12 points on average. By including other payments, such as HBO subscriptions or phone bills, you extend the range of data used for the calculation to push the score up.
The way you make payments is the single most influential component of both FICO and VantageScore. By paying diligently, you will generate new positive entries.
If you really need to borrow money, go for it. A new loan will contribute to your credit mix, and it will raise your score provided that you meet your obligations. If your score is too low, creditors will likely reject your application. Some credit repair companies may help, as they offer special credit lines for their clients.
Every time an institution checks your report, this leaves a mark known as a hard inquiry. The high frequency of these entries can pull the score down a bit. If you apply for different types of credit, this is guaranteed to make you look desperate for cash. However, rate shopping is still acceptable.
To rent an apartment in Boston, you need at least 650 FICO points, but the requirements vary. Check your score a few months in advance and raise it if necessary. Note that neither repair nor rebuilding happens overnight.