How to Improve Your Credit While Paying Off Student Loans[yoast-breadcrumb]
How to Improve Your Credit While Paying Off Student Loans
Paying off student loans is a great accomplishment. But it can also impact your credit score. Here’s how to manage both your loans and your credit so you come out ahead.
Keep Making Payments on Time
Payment history makes up a huge chunk of your credit score – like 35%! So keeping up with your monthly student loan payments is critical for your credit health. Set up autopay so you never miss a payment. Even just one late payment can hurt your score.
If you’ve been late before, get current on your loans and then stay on track. Making 12 months of consecutive on-time payments can help offset previous issues. Your payment history shows lenders you’re reliable.
Pay Down Debts Strategically
Focus on paying down your highest-interest debts first, while keeping up with minimums on everything else. This saves you money on interest. Target credit cards before student loans, since cards often have higher rates.
Keep your credit card balances low – under 30% of the limit. High balances can hurt your credit utilization ratio even if you pay on time.
Consider Loan Consolidation
Consolidating multiple federal student loans into one loan can make managing payments easier. But it also replaces those loans with a new one. This can lower your credit mix.
On the plus side, it may help increase your credit history length. Weigh the pros and cons for your situation before consolidating.
Don’t Close Old Accounts
After paying off student loans, keep the accounts open. Closing them removes these accounts from your credit history, which can lower your score.
Plus, longer credit history helps your credit. Keeping paid-off accounts open maintains that history. Just make sure to check them periodically for errors.
Watch Account Mix and Inquiries
Having different types of credit (mortgage, credit cards, student loans, etc.) helps your credit mix. Closing your paid student loans reduces this mix.
Too many credit inquiries from applying for new credit can also ding your score temporarily. Space out new applications over time.
Give It Time
Paying off student loans likely won’t cause a big short-term jump in your scores. But over many years, it builds positive credit habits – like making monthly payments on time.
These habits raise your scores slowly. Be patient and focus on smart credit management while paying off loans.
Leverage New Cash Flow
Freed-up monthly cash after paying student loans lets you pursue new financial goals. Save for a house, pay down high-interest debts, or build an emergency fund.
With less debt, you may also qualify for better loan rates. And you have more money to put toward future down payments.
Alternative Credit History
Some credit scoring models consider alternative data like rent and utility payments. These can help offset limited credit history from student loans.
Ask lenders if they use alternative credit data. This helps people with thin traditional credit files.
Paying off student loans is tough. But you can take steps to protect your credit along the way:
- Make all loan payments on time
- Keep credit card balances low
- Be strategic when consolidating loans or closing accounts
- Let good financial habits boost your scores slowly
- Use new cash flow to better your finances
Focus on smart money management, and your credit will rise over time – even after those hard-earned student loans are paid off!