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Posted: 1:20 p.m. Thursday, May 10, 2012

Credit scores both improving and worsening at the same time

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By Clark Howard


How are you doing with your credit score? If you're like the typical American, things are getting better, but there are still some danger spots on the horizon.

The latest FICO numbers show a significant increase in consumer credit scores. Almost one in five people are now considered 'golden,' which means they have a credit score of 800 to 850 on the FICO score.

I don't mind telling you that I do not have that high of a score. My credit score was 776 the last time I checked, kind of a patriotic number, but not high enough to be considered golden. 'Silver' would be more like it. Overall, more than a third of Americans now have a score between 700 and 850.

But here's the problem: Almost one third of people have a credit score in the 500s or 600s. If that describes you, the key to healing it is time. The more time that passes, the less impact you'll see on your score from past credit problems. And the more you pay on time every month moving forward helps.

Sometimes you'll have to cycle through a full seven years after you've damaged your credit to get back to a prime credit score. But the heal is worth it and that's why you have to break what has been your pattern up until now.

Lenders believe people with scores in the 500s and 600s will fall off the wagon again. You have to prove them wrong by reducing your obligations and paying your bills on time each and every month.

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