Buyers with good credit scores have a better chance at lower mortgage rates. Here are some tips for improving those scores.

NEW YORK – If you intend to buy a new home, or if you intend to take out a loan in the near future for any other reason, you obviously want to have the best credit rating in order to get the lowest interest possible.

Here are some ways for you to improve your credit score:

Pay your bills on time. Whenever you pay a bill late, it can have a negative impact on your credit score. Use automatic monthly payments with reliable servicers.

Pay your credit card bill in full each month rather than carry a balance.

Keep your credit utilization below 30% of your credit limit. One way to do this is to ask some of your creditors to increase your credit limit.

Don’t apply for too many new accounts. Even if you apply for a new account and are not approved, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.

Review your credit report, and dispute any errors. There are three credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian.

At no cost, once a year, you can request a credit report from these companies. If there are any errors in the report that have a negative impact on your credit rating, ask for a correction to be made as soon as possible.

If your credit score is too low to obtain a new traditional credit card, you can obtain a secured credit card. With this type of credit card, a credit limit will be established, and you will have to prepay this amount in advance.

However, once you demonstrate that you can use this account responsibly, you should be able to establish new traditional credit cards.

Obtaining the best mortgage rate

If you are buying a new home, you obviously want to obtain the lowest interest rate. Because inflation is under better control now, the Federal Reserve is likely to reduce interest rates in 2024.

The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped to approximately 6.7% at the end of January, according to Freddie Mac.

As a result, obtaining a 6% rate may be possible in the near future if you have established a good credit rating.

If you are able to increase your credit score and obtain the lowest interest rate, it will reduce the lifetime cost by thousands of dollars.

For example, according to Bankrate, if you have a credit score of 760 or above, it is conceivable that you could obtain a mortgage with a 6.33% rate now.

Comparing that rate with a mortgage of 6.95%, which might be the best rate available with a lower credit score, the difference in payments for a $300,000 mortgage for a 30-year term would be over $44,000.

Another way to lower your interest cost is to use “mortgage points.”

Each point represents 1% of the loan amount; you can pay points upfront to the lender. One point on a $200,000 loan would cost $2,000.

Each point lowers the interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point for the life of the loan. If you are planning to refinance the mortgage in a short time frame, paying points upfront is less desirable.

Generally, you can obtain the best interest rate on a mortgage from a financial institution where you maintain several other accounts, such as investment accounts, savings accounts or checking accounts.

However, you have to be careful to understand the financial institution’s requirements in order to obtain a lower interest rate.

If there is a requirement to maintain a very large account minimum in order to receive a lower mortgage rate, it may not be worthwhile.

For example, if the financial institution is offering a lower rate only if you have them manage a large investment portfolio, I would be hesitant to agree to that condition.

Don’t assume that your bank is offering the best mortgage rate. It’s best to investigate multiple financial institutions.

However, it would be best to obtain the best rate without having to commit to a large account balance for accounts you may not want to maintain.

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