Nearly 60% of bills that are in collection and show up on credit reports are medical-related. As of July 1, the three major credit bureaus made changes in their reporting system that could potentially boost your credit score. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion stopped reporting medical debt that went to collections and was ultimately paid off. Past reporting included those records for up to 7 years. Additionally, any unpaid medical debts that go to collections will not get reported until it has been unpaid for 12 months. Previously, it was reported after 6 months. Finally, all medical debts under $500 will no longer be reported beginning the first half of 2023. For many people, this means you will see a boost in your credit score.
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Need help boosting your credit score? Consider these strategies:
- Pay bills on time. 35% of your score is based on your credit history. Late payments kill your credit score. Consider setting up auto payments for your recurring bills.
- Use credit wisely. 30% of your score is based on ‘credit utilization’, which is the percent of your available credit (your credit limit) you are using at any given time. Your goal should be to use 30% or less of your available credit. If your total credit is $10,000, you don’t want to have more than $3,000 of outstanding debt.
- Keep old credit open while minimizing new credit inquiries. 25% of your credit score is based on the combination of the age of your credit accounts and new credit inquiries. There is such a thing as a ‘soft’ credit inquiry that does not affect your score. Be sure you know if an inquiry is soft versus a ‘hard’ inquiry. Use the latter judiciously.
Want to learn more about how credit fits into your financial life? Check out The In’s and Out’s of Credit, which explains what exactly makes up credit and the different types of credit available to consumers. You can also learn more about the different types of transactions that impact your credit score with How Credit Scores are Calculated and Why it Matters.
Following these credit boosting strategies will create a positive effect on your credit score and help you gain financial footing with a better credit profile. Remember to stay on top of your credit score because the better credit you have, the more financial stability and independence you gain. For more information or guidance on improving your credit score, be sure to consult a Certified Financial Planner.
Stewart H. Welch, III, CFP®, AEP, is the founder of THE WELCH GROUP, LLC, which specializes in providing fee-only investment management and financial advice to families throughout the United States. He is the author or co-author of six books, including 50 Rules of Success; J.K. Lasser’s New Rules for Estate, Retirement and Tax Planning- 6th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.); THINK Like a Self-Made Millionaire; and 100 Tips for Creating a Champagne Retirement on a Shoestring Budget. For more information, visit The Welch Group. Consult your financial advisor before acting on comments in this article.
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