Updated: Oct 7, 2021
When applying for a mortgage, one of the first items that an underwriter looks at is your credit score. Your credit score is a numerical summary of your credit report, a detailed document outlining how well you've paid off past debts to your credit cards, college loans, and any place you owe money. Underwriters will look at a tri-merger credit report that combines the individual credit reports from the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They look at your overall credit score and search for things like late payments, bankruptcies, overuse of credit and more. Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders consider when you apply for a mortgage.
Typically, the higher your score, the lower the interest rates you’ll qualify for. Even a half-point in interest can make a big difference in your monthly mortgage payment and how much you pay over the life of the loan. For example, the difference between a 3.25 percent rate and a 3.75 percent rate on a $300,000 mortgage taken out in the last 3 years is about $100 in savings each month. That's a difference of $36,000 over a 30-year mortgage term.
Below, you'll find the range of general credit scores with 850 being the highest and 639 being the lowest.
The main variables that go in your credit report that make up your credit score are the following:
Credit payment history (35%): This is whether you pay your credit cards on time.
Debt-to-credit utilization (30%): This is how much debt you've accumulated on your credit accounts, divided by the credit limit on these accounts. Debt-to-credit utilization ratios above 30% work against you.
Length of credit history (15%): Longer credit history balances are more favorable than shorter ones; ideally you need at least six months to establish credit and have a credit score tallied. (Here's more on how to build a credit history from scratch.)
Credit mix (10%): Your credit score goes up if you have different types of credit card accounts (e.g., credit cards, store credit cards, car/college loans, and more).
New credit accounts (10%): Opening new credit accounts in moderation can increase your debt-to-credit utilization.
Got bad credit? There's still hope.
Let’s say you've checked your credit score and credit report and found that it’s not exactly the best. What can you do to improve your credit score, and fast?
While a good credit report and credit score aren't built (or destroyed) overnight, there are still some things you can do right now to quickly boost your credit score. For starters, a low credit score may not be entirely your fault. One in five Americans actually finds errors on their credit file, according to a Federal Trade Commission study on Americans' credit scores. While frustrating, credit score errors are common because creditors make mistakes with reporting. For example, although you may have never missed a credit card payment, someone with the same name as you did and your bank accidently recorded the error on your credit.
This is why it's important to do a free credit check and look for any errors that could be dragging down your credit score. There are many sites that offer this, but you can get a free credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Here are some other ways to increase your credit score quickly:
Pay Down Your Debts
Paying down your debt is the thing you can do that could have the biggest and fastest impact on your credit score.
Opening New Credit Card Accounts in Moderation
Opening a new card increases total outstanding credit line and credit utilization should improve.
If you have only one type of credit card or a small loan, opening another type (like a store card) can help your "credit mix," a term the credit bureaus use to indicate whether a person can handle different kinds of credit accounts.
Becoming an Authorized Credit Card User
Becoming an authorized user on another person’s credit card accounts will let a you piggyback onto their good credit history.
The full history of the other account shows up on your credit report and is added to your credit history, which increases your credit score.
Get a Secured Credit Card or Loan
If you are having trouble qualifying for a traditional credit card, you can try for a secured credit card, which is "secured" by a deposit.
This lowers the risk involved for the lender, which makes it more likely for them to offer you credit even if you don’t have an established credit history.
Here at Princeton Mortgage, we offer our Rapid Rescore tool to improve a borrower’s credit score in days, not months.
What is a rapid rescore?
Rapid rescoring is essentially exactly what it sounds like – a rapid way to modify credit scores. You can raise your credit score quickly by submitting proof of positive account changes to the three major credit bureaus. The process can lift a score by 100 points or more within days, not months. The amount of improvement to credit scores will vary based on the types of things being corrected, as well as the overall state of credit. The difference can be a few points to a hundred points or more.
The first step in the rapid rescore process is to contact a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator who knows how to do rapid rescores. They can pull your credit report for review and use a credit score simulator to determine how certain actions may impact your score. It’s worth talking to Princeton Mortgage to see what your options are and we would love to help! Find out now by calling 800.635.0977 or visiting princetonmortgage.com to learn more.