If you’re unhappy with your credit score, you’re not alone. But if you’re not sure how to go about fixing it, look to see how your Hispanic peers are changing theirs.
Hispanic Americans are the biggest adult group checking and improving their credit right now, Chase Bank says. Nearly 9 in 10 Hispanics have checked their scores because they’re actively looking to buy a home or get a loan.
They’re a go-getter group: 81 percent of Hispanics are more likely to have already started to improve their credit scores, which is up compared to the U.S. overall, at 72 percent. Nearly two-thirds are encouraging their kids to learn about and practice good credit.
But when broken down by gender, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect among Hispanics and their credit. Just 55 percent of Hispanic ladies know their credit score, as 75 percent of men do. Less than 20 percent of women check their credit score monthly, but 44 percent of men do. Just over 1-in-10 women would talk about money on a first date while 16 percent of men admit they would.
However, there are some places where women are more credit-savvy than their male counterparts. More than 3-in-4 women believe that credit is vital to home-buying, while only two-thirds of Hispanic men do. More women have a plan to improve their credit over the next year (59 percent to 55 percent) and more are motivated to improve their scores because they want to borrow money (61 percent of women to 54 percent of men).
How to improve your credit right now
Well for starters, you may have gotten an unintentional improvement thanks to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you’ve ever had unpaid traffic tickets or medical debt that has impacted your credit history, those dark spots are about to be removed.
These minor infractions were major issues for some Americans, but the CFPB now says they will no longer hurt your credit. Also, if you’ve ever had civil judgments or tax liens, those will no longer negatively impact your credit score, either.
If you’re looking to pay off your debt to boost your credit score, avoid taking out payday loans or cash advances from your credit card. They might be convenient but what you owe back will not equate to the same amount you took out. Higher APRs, higher interest rates, and other fees will hinder your credit score more than what you had before the cash advance if you don’t pay it back according to your terms.
When it comes to debt, there’s an order to which debt you should pay off first. Many Americans are paying off unsecured debts — like personal loans and credit cards — before secured debts like mortgages and auto loans. While both kinds of debt affect your credit, secured debts mean you’re in it to lose something if you don’t pay it off, like your car or your house. Avoid prioritizing personal debts over your mortgage!
If you’re planning on ditching credit altogether, remember that good credit does exist. Lower-income Americans are more likely to suffer from being “credit invisible,” or when they start their credit history with negative records like a debt collection. Having no credit history makes it hard for lenders to trust you with a line of credit or a personal loan, which could lead to higher costs to you later when paying back money.
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