It may seem like there's no correlation between how you handle your money and how you drive your car, but there is. Auto insurance providers check your credit as part of their algorithm for determining your premiums. This may seem unfair, but in most states it's legal for auto insurance companies to consider your credit score when reviewing your application.
With this in mind, now is as good of a time as ever to work on raising your credit score. Here are five things you can start doing today:
1. Get current on your credit cards. Being behind in your payments can seem overwhelming, but it won't take long to get organized. Make a list of which accounts are past due, and then start making payments as you're able. Pay the minimums until all your accounts are current.
2. Make all payments on time. As you're working on bringing your accounts current, set reminders for your next bill's due date. Paying credit cards, utility bills, and rent on time is a key factor in achieving and maintaining a good credit score.
3. Decrease the number of credit cards you have. The variety of types of debt you have plays a part in your credit score. Diversity is good. But too much of one thing isn't. There's really no need to have more than two or three credit cards. Call and close your account, but make sure to pay it off. Keep the credit card that you've had for the longest amount of time, as length of your credit history plays a part in your score.
4. Check your credit report for bad debt. Each year you can get a free copy of your credit report from the credit reporting agencies. Request a copy and look them over for errors. Clerical errors happen. If you find one, file a dispute to have it removed. If you find old, forgotten debt, contact the lender to negotiate a payoff amount and clear it up.
5. Pay off your debt. One last goal you should have is to be free of consumer debt. Pay extra on your highest interest rate debt each month so you can reduce your debt. This will also help you have a more favorable debt to income ratio.
Even if you start working on this now — and you should — it will take time to reap the rewards. Expect it to take a few months to see a noticeable difference in your score. In the meantime, know that you're doing a good thing for your financial health. And don't forget to contact us to get a new car insurance quote!