Post car breakdown, my father suggested I start thinking about purchasing a new vehicle when summer rolls around.
A car loan can be a large undertaking. Before I got too committed to the idea of a new vehicle, I decided to first research my credit score and credit report. Both affect the rate I would get on a car loan.
There are a number of ways to see how you’re using your credit. I chose to take advantage of a free trial of FICO® Score Watch® —a program that allows you to check your credit score and credit report through Equifax, one of the nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies.
The program lets you know what’s helping your score and what’s hurting it. I found out that my history of no late payments is an advantage, while my short credit history is one of my pitfalls.
You can also check your various credit accounts, any inquiries by lenders or business looking into your credit, reports from collection agencies, and any public records you may have like tax liens, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and garnishments.
For me, the coolest part of the program was the Score Simulator. This tool allows you to see how different scenarios would affect your credit score. It also gives you a best course of action—the plan of attack that will help your credit score the most.
So I simulated applying for an auto loan. Applying for this new credit in my current situation could lower my credit score by 30 points. It really got me thinking about what I could do to improve my current credit score before applying for new credit.
Just for fun (well, it wouldn’t be fun if it actually happened), I simulated my score if I maxed out all my revolving credit accounts—those include credit cards, store cards, and lines of credit. With that, my score dropped about 100 points! Yikes!
Better just follow my best course of action and pay off my credit cards over the next 24 months.
If you’re curious about your credit score, what you could do to improve it or what future actions could hurt it, Score Watch might be something to check out.