If your credit score isn't as high as you'd like, you're not alone. According to Experian, more than 50% of consumers in the US have a credit score that's considered Poor (550-649) or Very Poor (549 & below). Your credit score impacts everything from buying a car to the apartment you rent to whether or not you can get a decent cell phone plan. A poor credit score can keep you from reaching your financial goals and living the life you want. The good news is that your credit score can change; it's just a matter of understanding it.

Since 2010, Credit Sesame has helped millions of consumers manage their credit score and continues to provide people with education and tools needed to take control over their finances. If you have a low credit score and are not sure how to improve it, start by identifying which of these 5 common credit mistakes you might not know you're making.

1. You don't check your credit score

Checking your credit is free of charge, and yet many of us rarely do it. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as many as 20% of consumers have errors on one of their credit reports, many of which go unnoticed. Errors, like a wrong address might seem small, but the effects can wreak havoc on your score. Consumers who check their credit reports regularly are able to spot errors and dispute them more quickly, avoiding the effects of potential low marks. Credit Sesame makes it easy to keep tabs on your credit score without negatively impacting your score.

2. You miss credit card payments

Your payment history may be the most important factor affecting your credit score. Paying your balance in full each month can help maintain a strong score, but if you miss payments, this can cause your score to suffer. One common reason people miss payments is that their due dates don't align with pay cycles. Consider calling your bank to change your due date , and signing up for automatic payments. If you can't pay the balance each month, try to pay the minimum to ensure payments are still being made.

3. You don't diversify your credit

Almost 40% of Americans have only a single line of credit but having multiple lines of credit in good standing shows agencies that you can manage multiple accounts effectively. This doesn't mean you should take out a car loan simply to have more lines of credit. Instead, you could replace your debit card with a credit card as your go-to method of payment for everyday expenses. Just be sure to pay off your monthly balance to avoid interest payments. Credit Sesame is a great resource and gives its users personalized tips and lets them know about relevant financial opportunities.

4. You max out your cards

Credit utilization measures the amount of available credit you have and how close you are to reaching your limit. For example, if you have a limit of $8,000 and charge $6,000, your utilization is 75%--in other words, too high. People with the best credit scores make sure to keep their utilization below 10% of their available credit, and never more than 40%. If you can't reduce your spending to lower your utilization, see if you can request a credit limit increase.

5. You close your old accounts

Having a longer credit history suggests to lenders that you're more likely to be a trustworthy borrower. Americans with 11+ years of credit history have on average a 100-point lead in their credit scores. Nearly half of Americans could have a higher credit score if they simply left unused accounts open, because this could diversify credit and lower overall utilization.

Whether you want to keep tabs on your credit, improve your score, or get approved for a loan with a better interest rate, Credit Sesame makes it easy. Start by getting your free credit check at Credit Sesame today , and take the first step towards financial freedom.

Update: The folks at credit sesame are extending a special offer to our readers. Follow this link for a free credit consultation including your free credit report summary and score!

Subscribe to PayPath Newsletter
PayPath
Follow Us on

It's easy to forget that the presidency of the United States is a government job just like any other–in that it comes with a stipulated salary and benefits.

But regardless of their bombastic rhetoric or self-serious public image, politicians are like all other government employees. The president, vice president, and legislators earn an annual income from the government in exchange for their duties, which include: executing/circumventing the law, upholding/withholding the civil liberties of American citizens, and legislating/sabotaging how societal institutions meet the needs of citizens, from healthcare to education.

If you've ever wondered what American politicians earn for all their hard work arguing across the aisle and starting Twitter feuds, look no further:

Keep reading Show less

Maybe you've had a high stress occupation before, like social work or stock trading, and fell victim to the high burnout rate of these kinds of jobs.

Or maybe you're just starting your career, and looking for something that won't take over your life but will still provide you with a good living. Whatever reason you have for looking for a high paying, low-stress job, you've come to the right place. We've compiled a list of the top 5 jobs that promise a solid paycheck without taking too much out of you.

Keep reading Show less

What do you do when financial hardship hits and you can't make your monthly mortgage payments? This is a question on many homeowner's minds as nearly 17.8 million Americans are reportedly unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

When homeowners face financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, they often look to obtain a forbearance agreement from their lender. A forbearance happens when your lender grants you a temporary pause or reduction in monthly payments on your mortgage. Forbearance is not the same as payment forgiveness, in that you still have to pay the entire amount back by an agreed-upon time.

Mortgage lending institutions differ on their mortgage relief policies and qualifications; however, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act were signed into law in late March of this year to protect government-backed mortgages.

Federally backed mortgages include:

  • Fannie Mae
  • Freddie Mac
  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
  • The US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA)
  • The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Under the CARES Act, homeowners with a federally backed loan who either directly or indirectly suffer financial hardship due to coronavirus automatically qualify for mortgage forbearance.

Even if your mortgage is not secured by one of these agencies, you still can call and see if you qualify, as many lenders will still offer the option in order to avoid foreclosures.

Under the CARES act, homeowners can claim mortgage forbearance due to financial hardship from COVID-19 for up to 12 months without requiring any documentation or verification. During the forbearance period, mortgage lenders cannot charge late fees or penalties.

Additionally, as long as your mortgage is current at the time you claim forbearance, the lender is required to keep reporting your mortgage as paid current throughout the entire period.

At the end of the forbearance, the CARES act protects consumers from having to make a lump sum payment. Instead, you will be given a repayment plan from your provider. Since repayment options vary, it's important you ask your provider about all of your repayment options.

Possible Repayment Options:

You may be eligible for a loan modification at the end of your forbearance. With modification, the mortgage terms are changed in order to add payments that were missed during the forbearance onto the end of the loan, extending the term.

Another option that may work for some is a reduced payment option. This allows you to keep paying monthly payments at a reduced amount. The amount missed is usually added back into the monthly payments at the end of the forbearance.

For example:

Regular payment: $1000 per month

Reduced payment: $500 per month

Payment after forbearance period: $1500 (until caught up)

Balloon payments, or lump sum payments at the end of the forbearance, are prohibited under the CARES Act. However, mortgage lenders may require homeowners who are not protected under the CARES Act to make a balloon payment at the end, so again it is best to check first with your provider.

Mortgage forbearance should only be considered in true financial hardship. In other words, just because of the pandemic, you should not take a forbearance on your mortgage if you can still afford your payments. Likewise, if you are able to start making payments before the forbearance period is up, it's best to do so as soon as possible.

The Next Steps:

Before you get in touch with your mortgage servicer, save time by gathering as much documentation about the mortgage as you can. Also, be ready to list your income and monthly expenses. Due to an influx in calls, financial institutions are experiencing extremely long wait times right now, and having your information at the ready will help.

Have questions ready to ask. Here are some questions you should be asking:

  • What fees are associated with the forbearance?
  • What are all the repayment options available to you at the end of the forbearance?
  • Will you be charged interest during the forbearance period?

If your forbearance is approved, make sure to keep all documentation pertaining to it. Make sure to cancel any automatic payments to the mortgage during the forbearance period, and keep tabs on your credit report to make sure your lender doesn't report the loan as unpaid.


For more information on forbearance, contact your lender and discuss your options. If you need more assistance with understanding your options, you can contact a local agent for the housing counseling agency, or call their hotline at 1-800-569-4287.