Lockdowns across the country prevented many people from eating out in restaurants, shopping in malls, retail stores, and vacation. This could be a contributing factor to the uptick in FICO credit scores. With less opportunity to spend discretionary funds, many Americans were able to pay down debt.
Even though many Americans continue to struggle with the negative financial effects of Coronavirus, FICO scores are on the rise. The average FICO score is now is 711, which is five points higher than last year’s average.
In January 2020, 8.1% of credit files included a 90+ day missed payments during the previous six months. By July 2020, that number was just 7.3%. Consumers that can make loan and credit card payments on time have a better chance of increasing their credit scores. Payment history accounts for 35% of a consumer’s FICO score calculation.
If you’ve experienced an increase in your FICO score, now is a great time to make a few changes to keep the momentum. Here are a few things you can do if you are among the many consumers with a rising FICO score.
Closing a credit card account after paying it off can hurt your FICO credit score by reducing your total available credit. Unless the card has a hefty annual fee or you can’t resist the temptation to run up the balance, leave that account open.
When you authorize a “hard pull” of your credit to get a new credit card, your FICO score dips a few points. If you apply for many new credit accounts, your score could drop significantly, limiting your ability to get a loan or credit card in the future.
Even if you don’t need more credit, ask your credit card company to increase your limit. This will help boost your score further by increasing your total available credit amount.
The most effective way to maintain and increase your FICO credit score is to pay your revolving charge accounts like credit cards and store credit accounts on time. Your mortgage company and auto lender also reports to the credit bureaus every month, so when you pay those bills on time, it helps you establish a good payment history.
If you have high-interest debt and are interested in bringing your credit card balances to zero, a debt consolidation loan may be the answer. With a consolidation loan, you’ll borrow enough money to pay off your debts. Within a few months, your credit file will show that your credit card accounts are paid off, which will help boost your score.
Your new consolidation loan will also show up on your credit reports, which may decrease your score by a few points. You could see your FICO scores go up, however. Sometimes adding a new loan will improve your mix of credit types, one of the five main factors that make up your FICO credit score.
Experian Boost offers consumers a free score boost if you can link your bank account to their platform. The Experian Boost algorithms search for transactions associated with utility companies, cell phone providers, and rent payments. They consider that information when calculating your credit score.
It often takes a few months for financial problems to cause missed mortgage payments or late credit card payments. While consumer debt is decreasing overall, many families face financial hardship due to job loss, illness, and small businesses’ closing. If you are struggling financially, contact your lenders and try to work out a deferment or forbearance agreement.
If your lender indicates that you have been “affected by the disaster” and that you are participating in a forbearance or deferment program, it won’t hurt your FICO credit scores.
Millions of consumers are currently getting help from their lenders due to financial problems caused by Coronavirus. Many lenders have simple programs in place to help their customers stay current on their bills.