Learning to Give Yourself a Little (or a Lot) More Credit
Sheri Powers from San Francisco Housing Development Corporation (SFHDC) and Janeene Bier from Financial Services Experts Inc. were at the Career Center this October for their monthly financial / credit sessions here.
The topic of this month’s gathering was “Take Control of Your Credit, Learn How Credit Matters.”
Ms. Bier started the evening off by talking about how the financial landscape has changed since the Great Recession that occurred earlier in this decade. She explained that before the Recession, credit scores around 600 or 650 were good enough for the average person to get the loans they needed.
But now, Ms. Bier explained, you need a credit score of at least 640 to get even a small loan, while a score of 760 or higher is what you may need to get loans for larger items such as cars or homes.
How Credit Scores Work
Just a few points difference on your credit score could be the difference between getting approved for that rental or home in the neighborhood you want, or having to take something that you really don’t want – or worst of all – not even qualifying for credit at all.
How you fill out that credit application really matters if you want to purchase
Items like appliances, cars, , even rentals, and homes or apply for credit cards.-
Here’s just a little of what we learned at our October Ladies Night in the Western Addition.
Tips to Boost Your Credit by Answering Questions the Right Way
1. Answer Every Question
Applicants can lose almost 10 points, just by leaving sections blank. Leave a couple or more questions unanswered — or give an answer they don’t like and your score can plummet, taking you out of the running for the credit you want – and in most cases — need.
One thing that Ms. Bier suggested to the evening’s participants was that if a credit application asks your occupation and gives you the option between selecting “professional” and “administrative”, “blue collar”, etc. always pick “professional”.
Why? Though not all credit applications have this option, the ones that do usually give twice as many points to people who say they work in “professional” fields versus those who say they’re
blue collar”. See the example below.
|Professional – 50 pts||Semi-professional – 44 pts|
|Manager – 31 pts||Office – 28 pts|
|Blue collar – 25 point||Retired – 31|
|Other 22 pts||No info – 27 pts|
Notice, even filling in ‘retiree” as your occupation gives more points (31) than “blue collar”?
So, if you’re filling out a credit app and they ask that question, remember – every job matters. So even if you do work a so-called “blue collar” job, you’re always a “professional” in your chosen field. So skip blue collar, and click “professional’ and give yourself a little extra credit.
3. Want to Get Good Credit – Stay Put
One easy way to get more points on credit applications, is giving an address where you’ve lived at for more than a year.
People who’ve lived at an address for less than half a year get 12 points, while those who’ve lived somewhere .5 to 2.49 years, get 10 (yes, it’s less, go figure). But if you’ve lived at a location for 2.5 years or more, you can get anywhere from 15 points to 23 points.
So if you just moved to a new residence, see if you can get mail sent to a previous address where you’ve lived, like your parents a and rack up more credit points.
4. A Couple of Other (Quick) Ways to Ruin Your Credit
According to Ms. Powers, two of the most common ways people ding their credit are: 1. Closing old credit cards and 2. Applying for a lot of credit cards at once.
Let’s take the first one. What’s the big deal about closing old credit cards?
You get a big fat 0 for every credit card that’s been on file for less than a year. Only 5 pts for 1-2 years. But after 3 years, it jumps to 15 pts and after 5 years, it goes up to 30 pt. Finally 8 years or longer is 40. So if you have too many credit cards and need to close some, try to close the newer cards.
You get a similar problem with having your credit checked. Say you go to a car dealer, the dealer says they’re going to check your credit. Just having 3 or more inquiries can take anywhere from 7 to 20 points off your credit. Even though they may say they’re doing a soft pull, there’s a good chance if they don’t know what they’re doing, they can mess up your credit.
Do this a couple of times and by the time you get to the next car dealer to check their prices, your credit could be ruined.
For more information on how you can resolve or prevent having problems with your credit you can contact SFHDC. They have workshops at their location throughout the month. Their website is
They’ll also be at the Career Center at the Western Addition on the 1st and 4th Thursdays each month for standalone sessions on various credit and financial topics.
For more information about the Western Addition Career Center drop by Monday – Thursdays for our orientations at 10am. We’re open Mondays – Thursdays, 9am-7pm and Fridays until 12:00