Why you need to be familiar with your own credit score before making any big purchases

Only 1 percent of Americans have a perfect credit score

Only 1 percent of Americans have the perfect credit score of 850.

DETROIT – Only 1 percent of Americans have the perfect credit score of 850.

You don’t need to hit that number to get the best rates when it comes to financing a home or car. You can get favorable rates with a 740 or above.

Your credit score can affect your ability to buy a home, car or even impact if you can land a new job.

“Some employers are even looking at credit scores now as a way to screen people for jobs,” Nelson Financial Planning President and CEO Joel Garris said.

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How to boost your credit score

The best thing you can do to help boost your credit score is to pay your bills on time.

“People don’t realize how big of a proportion of their credit score that is. It winds up actually being a third of your credit score,” Garris said.

Payment history and credit utilization compared to total credit available are the two biggest factors in determining your credit score. You should try to keep the credit utilization under 30 percent.

The next factors that affect your credit score are length of credit history, new credit inquiries and diversifying your credit with a mix of credit cards and loans.

Too much new credit at one time can affect your credit score negatively by adding hard inquiries to your credit report. Each new inquiry can drop your credit score by 15 points.

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How can you check your credit score?

You can check your credit score through Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Credit.com or other sites.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also has some information available regarding credit scores. You can get an annual credit report here. If you have a problem with credit reporting, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling (855) 411-CFPB (2372).

CFPB links:

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About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4’s Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV’s “Help Me Hank” Consumer Unit. Hank works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off people in our community.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.