When applying for a mortgage, lenders will review the borrower’s employment, income, down payment, and credit history. Even if the borrower’s credit scores are acceptable, many lenders will look at the length and amount of credit established. If the borrower does not have an established payment history, the loan may be denied due to lack of or insufficient credit. The following sources could be used to establish your credit history and generate acceptable scores to obtain a mortgage.
• Secure Credit Cards – This type of card is offered by large banks (available online), local banks, and credit unions. A secure card usually requires a $300 to $500 deposit to open an account. The servicers of the secure card will report the payment activity to the credit bureaus just like a standard credit card. This is a great way to obtain new credit. The last thing you want to do is apply at numerous lending institutions and pile up inquiries (which will lower your scores). You may need a co-signer if your credit scores are below 500. After six months of on-time payments with a secure card, ask the lender to upgrade your secure card to a standard card. When the card is upgraded to a standard card, ask for the credit limit to be increased. This will give you more room to keep your balance under thirty percent of the available limit, thereby maximizing your potential scores.
• Department Store Cards – These are a good place to establish credit, because they’re usually easier to qualify for. Pay your balance in full and on-time each month and then try applying for a regular bank credit card in six to twelve months.
• Authorized User Loans and Cards – If you are unable to open a secure card, look into becoming an authorized user with a relative. They may qualify for the loan or credit card and add your name as an authorized user. You can use the card, make the payments, and have the payments reported to your credit report. Just remember, the payment activity will also be reported on your relative’s credit report.
Once you have established credit, it is important that the balances on revolving cards are kept below 30% of the cards available limit. This will help maximize the credit scores. Make sure that all the payments are paid on-time. It is important to limit your inquiries for new loans or cards. When shopping for a new credit card, installment, or auto loan, research the requirements first. If you do not qualify for the loan, go to another lending institution. The last thing you want to do is lose points from credit pulls (inquiries). A large portion of your scores are calculated from your use of revolving credit, so while you are establishing new credit it is important that you do not close any existing cards. If you do so, you will be reducing your long-term available credit and likely lowering your credit scores. Usually, the credit bureaus will not differentiate between a credit card closed by the consumer or the creditor.
An available option to follow your scores would be to pay for a monitoring service to track your credit score progress. Your scores are not affected when you pull your credit report; they are only affected by lenders who pull your credit that may offer or extend credit to you. It may take 12 months to establish an acceptable credit history to obtain a mortgage.