An Apple a Day Keeps the Bad Credit Away*
*None of these are apples. These are financial tips to help you improve your credit rating. Do not try and use these to make a pie. It won’t work.
Bad credit: it’s bad. If it wasn’t, they would have called it good credit. It means higher rates on your loans and credit cards, trouble renting an apartment, and less financial leeway in general.
But thankfully, there’s a very easy way to get rid of bad credit. All it takes is an apple a day!
To clarify, none of the following things we’re about to list are actually apples. They’re all just tips you could consider to improve your credit, only a few which are even fruit at all.*
*None of these are any other kind of fruit either.
Head down to the orchard and see what’s available.
There’s a reason picking your own apples is still such a classic activity. It’s great exercise and there’s a joy in the process of going to the orchard, examining each apple on a tree to find the perfect one.
Of course by “going to the orchard” we mean checking your credit report.
You can use AnnualCreditReport.com to safely get a copy of your credit report each year. You’ll want to check for blemishes like missed payments, collections notices, and overly large credit card balances. These financial “bruises” are often of the self-inflicted variety, but there very well might be some mistaken information in there as well!
By checking your credit report, you’ll know what you’re working with when it comes to taking a bite out of your bad credit. You can prepare for the right way to take the apples life has given you and make … um … appleade!
Get rid of the bad apples.
Just like credit, not all apples are good. Some apples might have been bruised if they fell off the tree, or you may have had them sitting in the fruit drawer for too long and now they’ve grown moldy.
Those bad apples are debt, and just like you’re getting rid of the bad apples, you need to get rid of your debt. And the longer you put off getting rid of those rotten apples, the more they start to smell.
When it comes to debt, part of that bad smell is interest—the kind of interest that accumulates when you don’t pay off your credit card bill.
You really, really need to try and pay off all of your credit card bill in full each month, or that smell is just going to get worse. Same with paying off all of your other debt as quickly as you reasonably can and always paying your bills on time.
If you can’t pay off the whole balance, then do your best to make sure that you’re paying as much as you can. If you’re only making the minimum payment each month, it could take you a really long time to pay off your credit card bill. You might even end up paying more in interest than you originally spent!
Another way to avoid excessive interest, by the way, is to stay away from credit card cash advances. Standard credit card purchases come with a 30-day grace period before interest starts to accrue. But with cash advances, interest starts getting added the minute the transaction is made!
You like apples? How ’bout them apples!
It’s easy to give apple advice when you have mountains of delicious apples, like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. As you’ll recall, his character is absolutely loaded with apples, and he delights in the opportunity to show them off whenever he can.
(Fun fact: None of us have ever watched Good Will Hunting.)
But perhaps you aren’t apple rich, like Matt Damon. Maybe you’ve yet to get yourself a single apple. You probably wonder how you can get that first apple. Who is going to trust you enough to give you an apple if you haven’t yet proven your apple-handling ability?
If it hasn’t become obvious, we are no longer talking about apples. We’re talking about credit. If you have a bad credit score, it can be really hard to get an installment loan or a credit card. Lenders take one look at your score and think “this lady’s not going to pay us back.”
Paying off your personal loans and credit cards responsibly is one of the best ways to raise your credit score. But if no one will give you the chance to take out a safe, affordable loan or credit card in the first place, then what are you supposed to do?!
That’s where a secured credit card comes in. You can use money as collateral to get yourself a shiny, red (or whatever color) secured credit card. Then you can use that secured card to start building your credit.
Keep it up, and you’ll be rolling in apples in no time!
Manage your apples well.
You know that expression about not putting all your eggs in one basket? Well, it’s even more true about apples! Just imagine if you had put all of your apples in one basket and then a shifty apple thief grabs the basket while you’re focused on an apple-based website you’ve visited on your Android device.
Similarly, you don’t want to put too many purchases on any one credit card. Overloading one card is going to mess with your “credit utilization ratio” which measures how much of your available credit limit you’re actually using.
While an ideal credit utilization ratio is zero percent (which you’ll get if you pay the card off in full every month), the number you should really watch out for is 30 percent. Once your ratio rises above that number, lenders really start to take notice—and not in a good way.
So even though you need to use the card to build your credit, you should try to use it modestly and never go above 30 percent of your credit limit each month.
Don’t be like Snow White.
To be clear, we mean don’t be like Snow White in one very specific way. Snow White is generally pretty pleasant, but she makes a big mistake by biting into an apple she receives from a stranger.
Biting into an apple you got from a stranger is like taking out a bad credit loan with a sketchy storefront lender who doesn’t even both to check your income: a bad idea.
Snow White should have done proper research and checked out the online reviews for that mysterious woman with the apple… And you should do research and check out customer reviews for the lenders you’re considering using—this goes for both for storefront loans and online loans—so your credit doesn’t get a dose of poison and fall into a deep sleep.
Because, unlike Snow White, there’s no handsome prince who’s going to kiss your credit better.
We hope these tips will help you harvest better credit! Keep up with these apples and you’ll be golden. Golden delicious, that is!
If you want to learn more about taking your credit score from rotten to ripe, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:
- How to Fix Your Bad Credit in 2018
- 7 Bad Money Habits That Lead to Bad Credit
- Credit Workbook: The OppLoans Guide to Understanding Your Credit, Credit Report and Credit Score
- Can a Bad Credit Loan Help Raise Your Credit Score?
The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.