Fighting Your Way Back After Divorce: Repairing Credit

Friday, July 15th, 2016

If you’re separated, divorced, or facing a split in the future, you might know that your relationship is not the only casualty in this scenario. Too often, the ending of a marriage will also impact your credit score. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re trying to repair your credit post-divorce.

• Making payments on time is essential. Even if you’re fighting with your spouse, or ex spouse, about who is responsible for paying certain accounts, such as credit cards, car loans, business loans, student loans, or personal loans, it’s important that someone keeps on making the payments. You can decide later who is going to pay the other person back, or who will ultimately be responsible for the debt. But the most important factor for your credit score is that all payments are made on time. This counts for about 30% of your entire credit score. So make sure those checks keep going out.

• Don’t let debts pile up. Another factor in your credit score is how much debt you carry relative to the amount of credit you have available. This is known as your debt-to-credit ratio, and it’s the second-most important factor in your credit score, also accounting for about 30% of the total. Keep this rule in mind: your credit limit is not the amount it’s okay to spend. You should keep your total debt to less than 30% of your credit limit. Ten percent is even better. That means you could have a $10,000 limit on your credit card, and you should try not to keep more than $3,000 in revolving debt on it from month to month.

• Keep your accounts open. Having a long credit history also helps your credit score. If you close your credit card account that you’ve had for a while, you are hurting yourself. The longer the better is the rule when it comes to your credit accounts. Talk to your spouse or your ex about whether to close joint accounts, or take one of your names off and leave the account open. It’s best to separate out your affairs, but if you can keep from closing accounts, that’s for the best.

• Try to have more than one type of debt. Another thing that helps your credit score is having a mix of types of debt. That means in addition to a credit card, you could have a car loan, a student loan, a personal loan from a bank, or a mortgage. Don’t take on a bunch of debt just for the sake of having a nicely mixed range of creditors, but do keep in mind that different kinds of debt are generally good for your credit score.

• Be careful about opening new accounts. You might want to apply for a new credit card or two now that you’re fancy free and no longer stuck in your dead end relationship. But don’t apply for too many new credit cards at once. Too much new credit is a red flag for credit bureaus. So be prudent about those applications.

Keep in mind that no matter how bad your credit is, with some time, it can be good again – even great. In seven to ten years, your bad credit could be completely repaired.

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