How Lenders Determine Your Mortgage Interest Rate

Determining Your Mortgage Interest RateWith the cost of homes steadily rising, it wouldn’t be surprising if people were looking for a way to save even the smallest amount of money on their home purchase. And between the down payment, closing costs, inspections, PMI, and more, the cost of a home can quickly add up.

Paying interest on your mortgage isn’t avoidable, but you don’t have to feel like you don’t have any control over how much you pay. As you start the homebuying process, you’ll want to consider what factors into the total cost of your loan. The reason being you can improve your chances of saving some cash, especially when it comes to your interest rate.

To ensure you can get the best deal possible, it would be beneficial to understand how mortgage interest works as well as how lenders determine your mortgage interest rate.

How does mortgage interest work?

Mortgage interest, which is a fee charged by a lender for lending money to a borrower, will vary from person to person and lender to lender. Every month when you make your mortgage payment, mortgage interest will account for a portion of that payment. In fact, a majority of the payment is used to pay down interest, while only a small portion is used to pay down the principal balance, or the loan amount.

However, as you continue to make loan payments, and the principal balance decreases, your interest will also decrease. With this change in the amount of interest that is to be paid, more of your payment will go towards the principal balance. With the mortgage interest rate having an impact on the total cost of the loan and your monthly payments, a lower interest rate is better.

What factors affect my mortgage interest rate?

Your lender determines your mortgage interest rate. They do so using a variety of factors that will ultimately help them get a clear picture of your finances and your ability to repay the loan.

Lenders will use seven different factors to determine the mortgage interest rate:

  • Credit score: Number used to confirm a consumer’s creditworthiness.
  • Home location: State of home.
  • Loan type: Conventional, VA, FHA, or other special loan programs.
  • Loan amount: The total cost of the home and closing costs minus the down payment.
  • Loan term: The time borrowers have to repay their loan.
  • Down payment: A percentage of the loan amount paid at closing.
  • Type of interest rate: Fixed interest rate stays the same, while adjustable interest rate changes based on the market.

Using the abovementioned factors, lenders will be able to determine your interest rate. Every lender will offer a range of mortgage interest rates, so before applying, you may be able to confirm the rates offered to get a better idea of what the total cost of your mortgage might be.

For example, if a lender’s rates fall between 3.40% and 9.22%, your rate will be between 3.40% and 9.22%. Using a mortgage calculator, you can calculate the cost of your loan and your monthly payments. Of course, if a lender’s rates are too high, you have the option to shop around and look into other lenders who offer something more affordable for your budget.

Next to buying a car, buying a home is likely one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime. You might even buy more than one, but as a first-time homebuyer, you may not be 100% sure how to get the best deal. And considering how much people pay in interest, you want to be sure you are getting the best deal.


Life Events That Can Affect Credit: Going to College

For many first-time college students, pursing a higher education is a journey that comes with newfound responsibilities. Managing money while simultaneously balancing school, work and social obligations proves difficult for many. When embarking on educational pursuits, don’t forget to keep credit scores at the forefront of financial commitments.

There are many ways to go into debt as a student. While building a future through formal learning, remain vigilant in keeping a solid foundation of good credit. The following six scenarios can impact college students and credit.

1. Obtaining Student Loans

In order to pay for rising college costs, a majority of higher education students now attain student loans. Financing schooling costs does impact credit. Whether the impact is positive or negative depends on how the loan is taken out and how it is managed.

When acquiring the initial loan, a hard credit inquiry may make a minor impact on overall credit score. A credit check done by the potential lender may ding a few points off of the total score. The impact is small and can be recuperated in time.

In order to shop for the loan with the best value, the credit reporting system allows multiple credit inquiries in a short period of time. This gives the borrower anywhere from 14-45 days to research the best interest rates and find a loan that meets their needs and budget.

Once a loan has been selected and balances are due, students should remain rigorous about making timely payments. Staying on-track can impact a credit score for the better. By showing the capacity to payback the student loan debt, the borrower strengthens credit and builds a strong credit score.

Conversely, missing scheduled payments can lead to the slow and steady withering of strong credit. Credit scores can soar when managed properly. If students or graduates feel themselves drowning in large student loan repayment, they can contact the loan servicer. Many times, deferment or other alterations can be arranged to make payments more manageable.

2. Using Cards as Income

For the college students and credit card beginners in the audience, it is important to remember that credit cards are not free money or unlimited cash. Being approved for a credit card with a $5,000 limit is not equivalent to a receiving $5,000 payday. Using a credit card to make any purchase, large or small, comes with the obligation to pay back the card balance.

Furthermore, credit card companies may tack on fees in addition to accrued card balances. Common card fees may include the following:

  • Late payments
  • Charges for foreign transactions
  • Annual membership fees

One of the common pitfalls of student spending is utilizing credit cards as a way to make ends meet until cash comes along. For some college students, carrying a credit balance over from one month to the next is their solution for getting through economic hardship. While this temporary fix may seem to suffice for a time, the long-term impact can be difficult to repair.

Credit card interest rates and card fees vary. The cost of paying credit card interest and carrying a balance can add up in a matter of months and may be more significant than most students realize. Applying for credit cards and spending to the limit is a quick way to get into credit card debt and destroy a credit score.

3. Missing Payment Deadlines

Paying off a card balance or loan increment on time has the most impact of any of the credit decisions a college student makes. Payment history accounts for 35% of the points in a standard credit score. After a single missed payment, a positive overall score is said to drop somewhere between 90 to 110 points.

But according to FICO, a single late payment will not cause irreversible damage to one’s credit score. While the score drop may make an initial dent, getting back on track can rapidly repair the damage done.

Significant harm comes to the score of a borrower who consistently shows negligence overtime. Missing multiple or consecutive payments can impair a once-decent score. As a student with many expenses and little cash to spare, don’t postpone the due date. Aside from the credit impact, many major credit card companies will also inflict late payment fees that only add to the total balance due.

4. Paying the Minimum Balance Due

Making only a minimum payment can also negatively impact a credit score. When done consistently over time, paying the minimum balance can become a trap for college students to fall into. Interest payments will rack up quickly and the total payment will only grow. In order to avoid paying outrageous interest fees altogether, students should strive to completely payoff card balances. This is best done by charging only what one can afford.

5. Applying for Loans and Credit Cards

As aforementioned, applying for a loan can take a small rift out of a growing credit score. Likewise, applying for a new credit card can have the same effect. Each time a new creditor obtains a credit application, they pull the credit information. While it does not impact credit to obtain a copy of a free personal credit score each year, it does leave a mark when checked by a potential lender.

In order to prevent credit checks from significantly bringing down a credit score, students should be prudent in the number of loans and credit cards they apply for. Many students are tempted by credit card rewards programs available to consumers. By sticking to a few manageable credit cards, students can better control their spending and avoid the credit impact of card applications.

6. Maxing Out Cards

According to Time Magazine, student debt is being wracked-up by more than just the cost of college tuition. Extra college expenses include school books, transportation, housing and the use of electronic devices. For first-timers facing the price tag that comes with academic study, maxing out credit cards may seem the obvious solution.

Whether paid-in-full or carrying a balance, a card that meets its credit limit poses a significant threat to a teetering credit record. Weighing in at 30% of a total credit score, a factor called credit utilization is a critical component of credit reporting. Credit utilization refers to the debt to limit ratio.

To calculate the debt to limit ratio, divide the current card balance by the maximum card limit. The higher the percentage, the more negative the impact on credit utilization.

To improve credit, consider spreading out expenses to multiple cards. This lessens the debt to limit ratio. It gives evidence that the full amount of credit is not required by the borrower. Another way to help credit scores improve may be to request a higher credit limit. When possible, payoff balances on time. A higher limit will aid credit utilization and may lead to a more stable credit score.

Monitor Credit Activity

When pursing the path towards higher education, don’t loose sight of long-term financial goals. While going to college can impact credit scores in the long run, the affects don’t have to be negative. Apply for a student credit card that builds credit for students and recent graduates. Sign up for the Credit Report Card from to get advice, credit scores and a free action plan to monitor credit growth and build a strong financial future.

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Factors Driving The Housing Market Moving into 2021

According to a study done by Eyul Tekin, “after adjusting for inflation over time the future of the American Dream seems rather gloomy. Median home prices increased 121% nationwide since 1960, but median household income only increased 29%.” This is rather disturbing.

Thankfully, we have companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who have mandates to keep housing affordable for Americans.

In response to this disparity between the rise in wages versus home prices, Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae said “the rise of women in the workforce has changed the dynamics of house prices to reflect an expectation of two incomes. If you look at median house price in a market relative to median income of a two- person household, it’s at long term normal levels. If you have only one income, that is where the affordability problem is.”

So, it’s not so gloomy, it is societal trends running their course.

The accelerated increase in house pricing is being driven by several factors:

  • The cost of the big three components – land, labor and lumber – have all increased. Lumber cost is at an all-time high. With lower levels of immigration, labor costs have increased and, with strict zoning regulations, especially in urban settings, land has been limited and the price driven up.
  • Low interest rates, which are expected to remain at existing levels though this year, have made borrowing more affordable. That same monthly payment can now buy more house, driving up buyers’ bids.
  • The supply/demand imbalance, which is perhaps the biggest factor. On January 22nd, the National Association of Realtors announced that unsold housing inventory sits at an all-time low of 1.9 months based on the current sales rate. That’s down from 3 months a year ago. Demand, driven by low interest rates and societal shifts due to Covid-19, has outpaced supply.

Why the shortage of houses for sale?

Many people, especially older people driven by COVID-19 concerns, who own homes don’t think now is a good time to sell. In December, the Fannie Mae  Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) declined for the second consecutive month and fell to its lowest level since May 2020 as consumers adjusted to the worsening COVID-19 conditions of the first few weeks of December.

“Both the ‘Good Time to Sell’ and ‘Good Time to Buy’ components fell significantly, with respondents overwhelmingly noting the unfavourability of economic conditions,” Duncan said. “In particular, the sell-side component fell for the first time since April and by 18 points, reversing most of the increases of the past three months and implying to us that, at least temporarily, potential home sellers might wait to list their homes. If so, this could have the effect of perpetuating already-tight inventory levels and supporting additional (albeit lesser) home price growth, which could contribute to a further moderating of home sales.”  When supply falls more sharply than demand, prices increase.

Supply is Expected to Increase Going Forward

The U.S. Commerce Department announced that housing starts jumped 21.4% on a year-over-year basis and building permits soared 9.2%, the highest level in 13 years. “The good news about the house rise is that markets are performing the way you would expect. When prices go up and profits go up that is a signal for others to enter production and increase supply, and that’s certainly happening,” Duncan said. However, it might take a while for the supply to catch up with demand. Experts say that homebuilders and construction companies will have to continue these increased efforts though 2022 to meet demand levels.

It’s Not Just About Building More Houses

More people may be putting their houses on the market as well. As the HPSI indicates, there is pent up demand on the sell side.

Also, the MBA estimates that 5.54% of mortgage loans are in forbearance. When forbearance ends, some homeowners will be faced with a tough choice, either sell or get foreclosed upon. Unless they bought very recently, chances are they have built up enough equity to make selling the best option. This too will add to inventory levels.

The impact of the end of forbearance on the housing market is a matter of debate, but Fannie Mae sees the impact as one reason it is forecasting housing appreciation in 2021 to be 4.5% rather than the 10% of 2020. (Note: the historical norm for annual price increase is 3.75%)

Millennials were already starting to move from urban to suburban areas. During the financial crisis Millennials were looking for jobs and the places they were available was in the urban centers. This meant many lived in apartments. Now that they have children that are reaching school age they are moving out to areas with more land, more sports, good schools and other amenities.

They are moving from urban areas to the suburbs. When COVID-19 hit, the plans these people had for the next three years accelerated. The recent housing starts data support this, showing single family housing starts rose 12% while multi-family fell 13.6%.

How sustainable this movement is remains to be seen. If this is just an acceleration of buying that would have happened anyway, it implies that the supply/demand balance would move toward more supply, less demand a few years out.

There are a lot of factors at play when it comes accessing the cost of housing. It seems that the house prices will continue to rise in the short term and have the potential to grow at a slower pace, or even decline slightly, a few years out. With that said, if you have to borrow to buy a house, now is a good time to buy. You might just have to be more patient or more aggressive than you would have been otherwise given the competition.


Auto Loan Debt Tops $1 Trillion

This Article was Updated July 5, 2018

When you are looking to buy a vehicle, the first thing you should do is apply for a preapproved loan. The loan process can seem daunting, but it’s easier than you think and getting preapproval prior to going to the car dealer may help alleviate a lot of frustration along the way.

Here are five steps for getting a car loan.

  1. Check Your Credit
  2. Know Your Budget
  3. Determine How Much You Can Afford
  4. Get Preapproved
  5. Go Shopping

1. Check Your Credit

Before you shop for a loan, check your credit report. The better your credit, the cheaper it is to borrow money and secure auto financing. With a higher credit score and a better credit history, you may be entitled to lower loan interest rates, and you may also qualify for lower auto insurance premiums.

Review your credit report to look for unusual activity. Dispute errors such as incorrect balances or late payments on your credit report. If you have a lower credit score and would like to give it a bit of a boost before car shopping, pay off credit card balances or smaller loans.

If your credit score is low, don’t fret. A lower score won’t prevent you from getting a loan. But depending on your score, you may end up paying a higher interest rate. If you have a low credit score and want to shoot for lower interest rates, take some time to improve your credit score before you apply for loans or attempt to secure any other auto financing.

2. Know Your Budget

Having a budget and knowing how much of a car payment you can afford is essential. You want to be sure your car payment fits in line with your other financial goals. Yes, you may be able to cover $400 a month, but that amount may take away from your monthly savings goal.

If you don’t already have a budget, start with your monthly income after taxes and subtract your usual monthly expenses and how much you plan to put in savings each month. For bills that don’t come every month, such as Amazon Prime or Xbox Live, take the yearly charge and divide it by 12. Then add the result to your monthly budget. If you’re worried, you spend too much each month, find simple ways to whittle your budget down.

You’ll also want to plan ahead for new car costs, such as vehicle registration and auto insurance, and regular car maintenance, such as oil changes and basic repairs. By knowing your budget and what to expect, you can easily see how much room you have for a car payment.

3. Determine How Much You Can Afford

Once you understand where you are financially, you can decide on a reasonable monthly car payment. For many, a good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 10% of your take-home income on a vehicle. In other words, if you make $60,000 after taxes a year, you shouldn’t spend more than $500 per month on car payments. But depending on your budget, you may be better off with a lower payment.

With a payment in mind, you can use an auto loan calculator to figure out the largest loan you can afford. Simply enter in the monthly payment you’d like, the interest rate, and the loan period. And remember that making a larger down payment can reduce your monthly payment. You can also use an auto loan calculator to break down a total loan amount into monthly payments.

You’ll also want to think about how long you’d like to pay off your loan. Car loan terms are normally three, four, five, or six years long. With a longer loan period, you’ll have lower monthly payments. But beware—a lengthy car loan term can have a negative effect on your finances. First, you’ll spend more on the total price of the vehicle by paying more interest. Second, you may be upside down on the loan for a larger chunk of time, meaning you owe more than the car is actually worth.

4. Get Preapproved

Before you ever set foot on a car lot, you’ll want to be preapproved for a car loan. Research potential loans and then compare the terms, lengths of time, and interest rates to find the best deal. A great place to shop for a car loan is at your local bank or credit union. But don’t stop there—look online too. The loan with the best terms, interest rate, and loan amount will be the one you want to get preapproved for. Just know that preapproved loans only last for a certain amount of time, so it’s best to get preapproved when you’re nearly ready to shop for a car.

However, when you apply, the lender will run a credit check—which will lower your credit score slightly—so you’ll want to keep all your loan applications within a 14-day period. That way, the many credit checks will only show as one inquiry instead of multiple ones.

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When you’re preapproved, the lender decides if you’re eligible and how much you’re eligible for. They’ll also tell you what interest rate you qualify for, so you’ll know what you have to work with before you even walk into a dealership. But keep in mind that preapproved loans aren’t the same as final auto loans. Depending on the car you buy, your final loan could be less than what you were preapproved for.

In most cases, if you secure a pre-approved loan, you shouldn’t have any problems getting a final loan. But being preapproved doesn’t mean you’ll automatically receive a loan when the time comes. Factors such as the info you provided or whether or not the lender agrees on the value of the car can affect the final loan approval. It’s never a deal until it’s a done deal.

If you can’t get preapproved, don’t abandon all hope. You could also try making a larger down payment to reduce the amount you are borrowing, or you could ask someone to cosign on the loan. If you ask someone to cosign, take it seriously. By doing so, you are asking them to put their credit on the line for you and repay the loan if you can’t.

When co-signing a car loan, they do not acquire any rights to the vehicle. They are simply stating that they have agreed to become obligated to repay the total amount of the loan if you were to default or found that you were unable to pay.

Co-signing a car loan is more like an additional form of insurance (or reassurance) for the lender that the debt will be paid no matter what.

Usually, a person with bad credit or less-than-perfect credit may require the assistance of a co-signer for their auto financing and loan.

5. Go Shopping

Now you’re ready to look for a new ride. Put in a little time for research and find cars that are known to be reliable and fit into your budget. You’ll also want to consider size, color, gas mileage, and extra features. Use resources like Consumer Reports to read reviews and get an idea of which cars may be best for you.

Once you have narrowed down the car you are interested in, investigate how much it’s worth, so you aren’t accidentally duped. Sites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds can help you figure out the going rate for your ideal car. After you’re armed with this information, compare prices at different car dealerships in your area. And don’t forget to check dealer incentives and rebates to get the best possible price.

By following these steps, you’ll be ready to make the best financial decision when getting a car loan. Even if you aren’t ready to buy a car right now, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Start by acquiring a free copy of your credit summary.

It is always a good idea to pull your credit reports each year, so you can make sure they are as accurate as they should be. If you find any mistakes, be sure to dispute them with the proper credit bureau. Remember, each credit report may differ, so it is best to acquire all three.
If you want to know what your credit is before purchasing a car, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly,’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get a free credit score updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

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How to Get a Loan with Bad Credit

Everyone needs extra money from time to time, and this doesn’t change when you have bad credit. Unfortunately, your options become much more limited when you have bad credit. This makes it difficult to qualify for a loan, even when you need it to cover a financial emergency.

young couple

Whether you’re wondering how to get a car loan with bad credit, pay hospital bills, or even qualify for a mortgage with bad credit, we’ll show you how to improve your credit score and get your finances back on track.

Not only will you find out how improving your credit score can save you money on your next loan, you’ll also learn steps you can start taking today to start building your credit.

How does bad credit affect your ability to get a loan?

Before you start looking for a loan, it’s important to get an accurate understanding of your credit score. Most lenders use the FICO scores, which ranges from a low of 300 to a high of 850. A “bad” credit score is typically defined as lower than 629.

If you want to know your exact number, you’ll have to purchase that information from FICO. But if you simply want to see what kind of derogatory items are on your credit report (and potentially fix them), you can request a free copy of each of your three credit reports.

It’s a good idea to take advantage of this free service every 12 months to check your reports for accuracy even if you’re not actively looking for a loan.

Once you’ve established whether or not your credit score is low, find out the exact impact bad credit can have on your life. Bad credit affects you both financially and emotionally, but the most expensive effect is the type of loan you’re able to get.

Higher Interest Rates

When applying for a loan, the lender will charge you higher interest rates for a poor credit score. That’s because your lender sees you as a greater financial risk, so they charge higher rates in case you default on the loan.

Higher interest rates can really add up over the life of the loan. Keep reading to find out exactly how much.

Application Denied

Even worse than getting a high interest loan, you may not qualify for a loan at all if your credit score is too low. If the loan is for something non-essential, then this may not be that big of a deal.

But it can significantly affect your well-being if you have serious financial needs, like car repairs or medical bills. At this point, some people decide to turn to “no credit check” lenders who offer predatory products like payday loans.

Though short-term, these loans have extraordinarily high APRs and often lead people into a cycle of never-ending fees for what started off as just borrowing a few hundred dollars. Luckily, there are many ways to avoid ending up in this situation.

Where can you get a loans for bad credit?

If you do have a poor credit history, some reputable lenders might be willing to offer you a loan. Just remember, you’re going to be paying a lot of interest on top of the amount you borrow.

Check Out Our Top Picks:

Best Personal Loans for Bad Credit

It’s always good to check with your local bank or credit union, although they are likely to have stricter lending standards and a slower origination process. If you have an existing relationship with a bank or credit union, they may be willing to help you out.

Many online lenders offer quick approval and funding, even for borrowers with a low credit score. Just be sure to do your research to make sure the company operates a legitimate business.

Before taking out a personal loan from anyone, check to see what kind of reviews that company has received and what its Better Business Bureau rating is.

Bad Credit Lenders

Here are a few online lenders that offer bad credit loans:

  • Avant is a major online lender offering bad credit loans that only requires a minimum credit score of 580.
  • MoneyMutual is a lending aggregator that offers short-term loans to borrowers with low credit. You do need to have a consistent monthly income of at least $800 to apply.
  • CashUSA partners with lenders offering loans to people with bad credit between $500 and $10,000. The credit and income requirements are flexible, but the interest rate could be pretty high.
  • is a lending marketplace for borrowers with bad credit who need quick access to cash. You could receive up to $10,000 with loan terms up to 60 months.
  • is another lending marketplace that offers personal loans to borrowers with poor credit. You will need to prove that you have a monthly income of at least $2,000 to qualify.
  • OneMain has physical locations in addition to its online presence and actually has no credit score minimum. The company says its average customer has a credit score between 600 and 650. Don’t get too excited, though – your APR could be as high as 35.99%.

Things to Know About Applying for a Bad Credit Loan

If you do decide on getting a bad credit personal loan, keep a few things in mind so you don’t damage your credit scores even further. First, limit your number of loan applications.

Every time you apply for a loan, the lender makes an inquiry on your credit report. This lowers your credit score anywhere between one and five points depending on your situation.

That might not seem like a lot, but it could affect your interest rate if you’re on the border between “bad” and “fair” credit. Plus, many lenders view a large number of inquiries as a risk factor, especially if they’re all made within a short period of time.

Thoroughly research potential lenders in advance and see if they offer to make a soft pull on your credit rather than a hard one. That way you can compare interest rates without hurting your credit even more.

Going through a lending marketplace is a good way to limit your credit inquiries as well. With just one application, you’ll receive quotes from multiple lenders that are willing to work with you.

How much extra interest should you expect to pay on a loan with bad credit?

Even after getting approved for bad credit loans, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s going to be an expensive decision. Just how expensive depends on the terms and conditions of the loan.

On top of your interest rate, your lender may also charge an origination fee. Unfortunately, this is a pretty universal concept, so there’s not much you can do to avoid paying it.

The origination fee is usually charged as a percentage of your loan amount, so – just like interest – the more you borrow, the more you pay. You don’t have to come up with the cash upfront; instead, the fee is deducted from your loan.

Make sure you account for this deduction in your loan request. For example, if you need a $20,000 loan and there is a 3% origination fee, be sure to request $20,600 because 3% of $20,000 is $600.

Annual Percentage Rate

A helpful tool in determining the best interest rate and applicable fees is the loan’s annual percentage rate or APR. This number helps you compare offers that have different rates and fees to see which is better on an annual basis.

However, APR does not account for the loan term, which is the amount of time it will take you to pay off your loan. A loan may have an extremely low interest rate, but if it takes 10 years to pay off, you might actually end up paying a lot more in interest.

There are a lot of variables to consider when figuring out how much interest you’ll be paying. Let’s look at an example to help put these facts and numbers into context.

Auto Loan Calculator

Let’s say you want to figure out how to get a new car loan with bad credit. By using an online calculator, you can determine if making the purchase now is worth paying the extra interest compared to fixing your credit first.

According to Experian, the average length of a new car loan is 67 months and the average loan amount is $28,711. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you get a 60-month (five year) loan for $28,000. Here is how MyFICO estimates different credit scores to stack up in the same scenario.

The differences in the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan are jaw-dropping: a person in the lowest range pays nearly $9,500 more than someone in the highest range. So you wouldn’t be paying $28,000 for that new car, you’d actually end up paying almost $37,500.

Bumping your credit score up just 31 points from a 589 to a 620 could save over $4,600 in this scenario. Think of how many paychecks that adds up to before you decide on getting a loan with a bad credit score.

Fico Score APR Monthly payment Total interest paid
720 – 850 3.312% $507 $2,421
690 – 719 4.636% $524 $3,424
660 – 689 6.751% $551 $5,069
620 – 659 9.474% $588 $7,262
590 – 619 13.848% $649 $10,958
500 – 589 14.944% $665 $11,918

Should you fix your credit before applying for a loan?

If you want to potentially save thousands of dollars on your next loan, then yes, you should consider fixing your credit before you apply. While some credit components take time to improve, there are many actionable steps you can take right now to improve your credit scores.

It’s always better to get a head start on the process rather than waiting for a financial emergency. If you don’t need the money right away, take the time to fix your credit now so you can save big when you are ready to borrow.

Here are five steps you can take right away to fix bad credit:

1. Dispute any errors on your credit report

Before you attempt to repair your credit, you want to know what you’re dealing with first. So the first place to start is by reviewing and disputing any errors on your credit report. And checking your report will give you a good idea of where you can begin making improvements.

2. Start making your payments on time

One of the easiest ways to raise your credit score is by making your monthly payments on time. Your payment history counts for a significant portion of your credit report, so if you struggle to make your monthly payments on time, your credit scores will take a hit.

And you may be surprised to learn that this applies to more than just lending products. It also includes credit cards, personal loans, home loans, utilities, and even your cell phone bill. Once you have that under control, start paying down any existing credit card debt.

3. Lower your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your credit score, meaning you’re not just judged on the amount you owe, but also on the amount you have borrowed compared to the amount you are allowed to borrow.

If your credit cards let you borrow up to $10,000 and your balance is $4,000, your credit utilization ratio is 40%. Ideally, your credit utilization ratio should be below 30%, so try to make extra payments until you can reach that ideal range.

4. Consider using a credit repair service

If you’ve already taken the steps we outlined above with minimal success, then you may want to consider hiring a professional. A credit repair service can dispute any negative items on your account and help improve your credit score faster than if you’re doing it on your own. Here is our top choice for a credit repair service.

By law, an item must be removed from your report if the creditor can’t verify it within 30 days. By having a tireless advocate on your side, you’ll make sure your current and past creditors are following the law. They will help you make sure your credit history has been updated to accurately reflect your financial history.

5. Show a lender can you repay the loan

Once you’ve put in the work to raise your credit score, it can help to look for ways to show an online lender, bank, or credit union that you’re able to repay the loan. Providing proof of income can give a lender more peace of mind and demonstrate that you’re financially capable of repaying the loan.

If you don’t have any proof of income and your credit score is still lower than you’d like, you can consider applying with a creditworthy co-signer. Ideally, this will be someone who has a good credit history and can vouch for you with your lender.

However, you should only use a co-signer if you’re certain you can repay the loan. If you default on a loan, the bank will go after your co-signer, which will put their financial future at risk.

How can you maintain your credit score once it’s fixed?

After taking the time and effort to raise your credit score, make sure you do everything in your power to keep it up — or get it even higher!

You might not be looking for another loan or line of credit at the moment, but you never know what your financial future will look like. Perhaps you rent an apartment now, but want to buy a house further down the road.

Getting a Mortgage

It’s hard to figure out how to get a mortgage with bad credit, so do your best to make sure you take care of your credit now. That means paying all your bills on time, setting aside cash for emergency savings, and not racking up unnecessary debt.

Remember, most infractions stay on your credit report for up to seven years, so the financial decisions you make now stick with you for a long time.

Renting an Apartment

Plus, think of all the ways poor credit affects your life outside of getting a loan. Many landlords run credit checks on prospective tenants, so it can be difficult to rent an apartment with bad credit.

Potential Employers

Potential employers also sometimes run credit checks on job applicants to see how they handle their money. Why? They think that if you’re not responsible in your personal life, you probably won’t be responsible in your work life.

So bad credit not only affects your spending power, it affects your earning potential as well. Keep every door open by making a conscious effort to continually improve your credit. It would be a huge waste of time and effort to give up on all the progress you just made. Do yourself a favor and consciously manage your money going forward.

Final Thoughts

It certainly is possible for people with bad credit to get a loan, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best decision for you. Analyze just how urgent your financial needs are. Then, decide if you can wait a while to improve your credit before taking out a high-interest loan.

A reputable credit repair service can help you aggressively put your credit score on the fast track to improvement. Check out our credit repair reviews page for a list of reputable credit repair companies that can get you started today.


What Credit Score is Needed to Buy a House?

You’re finally ready to take a huge leap of faith into the next big chapter of your life: homeownership. With all of the excitement and anxiety that comes with the territory, there are also a number of important steps to take and checkboxes to tick off before you can even think about jumping into the housing market.

If you’re like most people, buying a home is among one of the most expensive investments you’ll make in your lifetime. Such a monumental purchase requires plenty of time and preparation. One of the most important preparation steps is building and maintaining a stellar credit score.

Having a healthy credit score is the key to paving a way toward the life you’ve always dreamed of. With a good credit score, getting approved for everything from a car loan to a mortgage is made easy. Even though everyone has a credit score, it can be a bit confusing trying to dissect what your credit score says about you, how it’s calculated, and how it applies to your homebuying capital. Using this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about credit score to buy a house.

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a number that represents a person’s creditworthiness. This number ranges between 300-850— the higher the number, the better the score, and ultimately the better the credit score, the more reliable a borrower appears to potential lenders. 

The credit score calculation is based on credit history. Credit history is the aggregate evaluation of overall debt rates, number of open accounts, and repayment history. Lenders use credit scores to assess the probability and risk of a borrower’s ability to repay their mortgage in a timely fashion.

Although exact scoring models may vary slightly by lender, most use FICO Score calculation standards as a basis. FICO uses data from three major credit bureau companies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to measure individual credit scores.

From this information, they compose a total score based on the following five factors:

  1. Payment history – 35%
  2. Amount owed – 30%
  3. Length of credit history – 15%
  4. Types of credit – 10%
  5. New credit – 10%)

Once you’ve had your credit score evaluated with a free credit check, take a look at the table below to see how your score measures up in the eyes of your future potential lender.

  • Very Good: 740 to 799
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Poor: 300 to 579

Do keep in mind that as frequently as your financial situation changes, your credit score fluctuates with it. Your credit score from a couple months ago is likely different from the score you may earn today.

What credit score is needed to buy a house?

As mentioned before, your credit score plays a significant deciding factor in your home buying potential. The healthier your credit, the more options you’ll have available to you. The minimum credit score needed to buy a house varies by loan type, location, and lender. Generally speaking, a credit score at or above 670 is great enough to grant you access to favorable interest rates on a mortgage.

In need of a more in-depth look at the credit scores needed for each type of loan? We’ve got you covered.

  • Conventional loans: Conventional home loans are not insured by a government agency and adhere to the standards set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conventional mortgages typically require a minimum credit score of 620, however, in order to score the most competitive interest rates, you’ll need a credit score at or above 740.
  • FHA loans: Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA mortgage loans are designed to cater to low-to-moderate-income borrowers. The minimum credit score needed to qualify for an FHA loan is 500 if you are able to make a 10% down payment or 580 if you’re able to put down 3.5%.
  • VA loans: Distributed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are available to active-duty military members, veterans, their spouses, and other eligible beneficiaries. Although VA loans do not demand a minimum credit score requirement, VA loan lenders may require that you have a score of at least 620.
  • USDA loans: USDA mortgage loans are insured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and intended for low-to-moderate-income borrowers looking to purchase a home in a rural location. The USDA requires a minimum credit score of 580 for its loans, but there is a bit of wiggle room to work with if your score is a little lower under certain circumstances.

How can I prepare my credit score to buy a house?

If you are exploring your options and seriously thinking about buying a home, it may be worth dedicating some time to prepping and boosting your credit score before you dive into the market. Whether you have a poor credit score and you’re looking to reach a 620 baseline score or you already have good credit but want to qualify for prime interest rates and term conditions, use these tips to get started.

Pay off your debts

It should come to no surprise that paying off your debts is among the most foolproof ways to boost your credit score. Doing so allows you to improve balance out your debt-to-income ratio, which is an incredibly crucial factor mortgage lenders weigh when deciding whether or not to approve you. 

If you have credit card debt, do what you can to settle that outstanding balance. Your credit utilization rate, which measures the amount of revolving credit you have compared with the total amount of credit you have available, is an important calculation lenders account for during the application process. Although there is no standard credit utilization rate mortgage lenders look for, 30% or less will set you up for success. Ultimately, the lower your rate, the better.

Avoid applying for new credit

No matter which lender you choose, they are bound to conduct a hard inquiry into your credit record nearly each and every time you apply for a mortgage. In the vast majority of cases, you’ll see your credit score decrease by five points or less, after just a single hard inquiry.

If you choose to have several inquiries completed within a short period of time, you’ll likely bear the brunt of a compounding effect that lowers your credit score even more.

Pay your bills on time

Payment history is the most important element of your credit score evaluation. Making late payments on utility bills, rent, or student loans can significantly impact your score and quickly turn a very good score into a fair score. 

Fortunately, paying your bills on time is something you can automate amidst the digital age. Where possible, set up auto-payments so you never fall behind on your bill payments again.

Consider waiting

If you’re struggling with a poor credit score or a score a bit lower than on you desire, it may be a smart idea to simply pause your home buying venture. Because your credit score has such a consequential impact on your ability to obtain a manageable mortgage, it’s likely in your best interest to wait and build your credit score rather than rush into a mortgage that features unattractive terms and rates. 

In the event that your credit report includes any number of outstanding highlights, such as a repossession or bankruptcy, it may take a considerable amount of time and rebuilding for your credit score to recover from these types of damaging financial factors.

Although placing your homebuying plans on pause may not be a part of your plan, it may make the most financial sense for your situation. Refocus on getting your credit back on track so you can dive into the market with confidence when your score is whipped into shape.

Wrapping up

Your credit score determines a great deal about your future financial leverage. In order to get the best terms, conditions, and interest rates on a mortgage, you’ll need a categorically good credit score of at least 670 to pursue your dreams of buying a house. Using these tips, you’ll be able to step into the market with the knowledge and credit confidence you need.

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