by Maurie Backman | Feb. 16, 2020
Older Americans have done a killer job of raising their credit.
Having great credit isn't necessarily something older Americans strive for. After all, the primary benefit of having a solid credit score is to open up your borrowing options. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved for a favorable mortgage rate or the best credit cards out there.
However, older Americans, don't necessarily have the same borrowing needs as their younger counterparts. Many already own homes and aren't looking to refinance their mortgages. And while it's certainly conceivable that older folks would want to apply for new credit cards to take advantage of perks like sign-on bonuses, many may be more inclined to stick with the cards they've known and loved for a long time.
But despite potentially being less reliant on credit than younger folks, older Americans are doing a pretty impressive job of keeping their credit scores in favorable territory. In fact, Experian reports that Americans aged 55 to 73 have an average FICO® Score of 732, which is more than 30 points higher than what the average American across all age groups has.
If you're eager to bring your credit score up to 732, or at least get close, there are a few key steps you can take to make that happen. Here are a few to focus on.
Of the various factors that go into calculating your credit score, your payment history carries the most weight. This element speaks to how timely you are with your financial obligations, so if you make a point of paying your bills on time, your payment history will improve, and your credit score will follow suit. Keep in mind that making your minimum credit card payments by their respective deadlines counts as being timely. And although it's preferable to pay down your balance in full each month, if all you can swing is your minimum payment, getting it in by its due date will still help.
If you're carrying a bunch of credit card debt, paying off a portion of it could help your credit score improve. Credit utilization is another key factor that goes into calculating your credit score, and it measures the amount of available credit you use at once. A utilization at or below 30% is ideal, so if you're currently beyond that point, paying off some debt will benefit your score markedly.
You're entitled to a free copy of your credit report once each year from all three bureaus -- Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Reviewing your report and fixing errors that work against you could easily help your credit score climb. Why might you have an error on your credit record? Maybe someone with the same name as you racked up a certain charge, and that person's debt got assigned to your Social Security number inadvertently. It can happen rather easily, so much so that an estimated 20% of credit reports are said to contain mistakes. Fixing one on yours could therefore be your ticket to better credit.
You never know when you might need to borrow money unexpectedly, and the higher your credit score, the more options you'll give yourself. Having strong credit can help in other aspects of life, too. It can help you get approved to rent a home, and in some cases, it can even be a factor in whether or not you get a job offer. The fact that Americans aged 55 to 73 have an average credit score of 732 is undoubtedly impressive, so this is definitely one situation where it pays to follow in the footsteps of your elders.
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