What to think about before applying for a loan
Whether you’re applying for a new credit card, refinancing a loan or buying a house, lenders consider many factors when making their decision. One of those many factors is your credit score, which helps paint a picture of your credit usage and behaviors over time.
Take control of your credit health to put yourself in the best position when thinking about a loan. To get started, consider the following:
What lenders look for
• Payment history: Lenders want to understand how reliable you are at paying your bills. Your recent payment history may have the most impact, but lenders likely will look at your entire payment history.
• Proof of income: Having a steady income is something most lending institutions look for when making a decision. Before they extend a loan, lenders want assurances that you can afford to pay back what you borrow. Your pay stubs or bank statements may be enough proof, but each lending institution maintains its own criteria regarding acceptable documentation.
• Age of open accounts: Older credit accounts show how much experience you have managing credit, so a longer history works in your favor. Some lenders look at the average age of all your credit accounts, and others look at how old your oldest open account is. It’s a good idea to avoid opening or closing any credit accounts before you apply for a loan, as new accounts can shorten the average age of your credit history, and that old account may be extending your average.
What you can do
• Use less available credit: Show lenders you’re responsible with the credit you’ve already been given by lowering how much of your total available credit you’re using. This is called your credit utilization rate. For example, if you have a credit limit of $5,000 and you have a balance of $2,500, your credit utilization rate is 50 percent. Try to keep a utilization rate of 30 percent or lower — usually, the lower, the better.
• Own your path to better credit: Products are available to help you better understand the steps you need to take to achieve your credit health goals. For example, the new CreditCompass, included in a TransUnion Credit Monitoring subscription, gives you clear recommendations to achieve your target credit score.
These recommendations are based on proven examples from millions of real credit experiences of people who successfully improve go to TransUnion.com/compass. Note that the credit score you receive and the one used for CreditCompass is based on the VantageScore 3.0 model and may not be the credit score model used by your lender.