You have spent the last few years working hard to increase your credit score. And you finally have reached the magic credit score number of at least 760. But instead of just resting on your accomplishments, take this opportunity to turn your high score into more money in your pocket. By leveraging your credit score to the maximum potential, you can receive lower rates and put your money better use, such as starting a 529 college fund, paying down student loans or saving for retirement.
"If you have a high credit score, it is almost the equivalent to having a VIP pass to the best offer that a lender has, regardless if it is a mortgage, student loan, boat loan or even personally guaranteeing a business loan," says John Ulzheimer, President of Consumer Education for SmartCredit.com. "By having a score high 700's, you have are almost a zero credit risk to a lender and they all will want your business."
Here are five ways you can leverage your high credit score:
1. Shop around when applying for loans or credit cards
Before applying for a loan or credit card, familiarize yourself with current rates given to customers with high credit scores. If you just take what the first lender gives you, you may find later that you could have landed a lower rate.
"All lenders want the high-quality borrowers, and if you have a high score then lenders should be trying to fall in front of you to get your business," Ulzheimer says. "In the current market, you should be able to get between 0 to 5 percent on a car loan, depending on the type of car and loan. Mortgage lenders should be offering you below 4 percent, and credit card companies should be giving you a 0 percent interest introductory period," Ulzheimer says.
2. Apply for reward cards
It's no secret that the most lucrative credit cards, especially in the area of rewards, are reserved for the lowest risk credit customers. Research various rewards credit cards available and determine which type of rewards card is most enticing for you. However, the only way to get the maximum value from a rewards card is to pay off the balance each month.
With an excellent credit score and the right rewards card, you could be earning as much as 5 or 6 percent cash back on select purchases. With a brand-loyalty travel card, not only do you earn points towards free flights or stays, but you could easily earn upgraded airline or hotel status, which translates to waived baggage fees or free wi-fi. Now, these perks are nothing to get into debt over, but if it's money you're already planning to spend, your high credit score opens the door to a more enjoyable credit experience.
3. Consider balance transfer credit cards
If you are still carrying a balance on any of your credit cards, research balance transfer credit cards offering 0 percent interest for an introductory period, typically six to 18 months. "Reward points are nice. Airline miles are nice. But zero interest balance transfer cards are essentially free money and free money trumps everything," Ulzheimer says. Once you transfer the balance to the new card and stop paying interest each month, you should use the extra money in your budget to apply to the debt instead of simply increasing your amount of spending.
4. Re-evaluate your insurance premiums
Your credit score is used to calculate your insurance score which affects the amount that you pay in premiums for home, auto and life insurance. If you purchased your current policies when you had a lower credit rating, renegotiate the premium with your insurance company. "You will most likely have to go to your insurance agent with the intention of taking your business elsewhere if they can't lower your premium," Ulzheimer says. "Often companies will offer a lower premium for new customers with a high credit score."
5. Consider refinancing your auto loan
While most people are aware that you can re-finance your home, many are not aware that you can re-finance your auto loan. Since auto loans can vary widely, from 4 percent to 20 percent, you may now be able to qualify for a much lower interest rate if your credit score has improved since you took out the loan. "If you have a FICO of 780 and are paying 12 percent interest on your car loan, then you are giving money away each month. You can cut your interest rate at least in half by refinancing," Ulzheimer says.
By taking the time to re-evaluating your current financial relationships and research potential loans and credit cards, you can take advantage of your hard work to increase your score. And best of all, you can translate your high score into more money available to help you reach your financial goals.