CHICAGO (CBS) - Credit scores determine what kind of rate we get on loans and credit cards, but improving your score can be a slow process.
But you can take a shortcut with something called rapid rescore, CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports.
Deborah davenport stumbled over a great deal on a house recently and knew she wanted to buy, but she wanted something else, too.
Not liking the interest rate she was offered when the mortgage company saw her credit report, she went to a credit expert for advice on how to bump her score up in a hurry.
His No. 1 tip: pay off a credit card on which she owed $500. It wasn't a bunch of money in her case, but because the card limit was only $700, it ruined her credit-to-debt ratio, which had a direct impact on her score.
"So just by paying that $500 and now putting the card to a zero balance, it lowered my ratios," Davenport said.
But she couldn't wait the 30 to 45 days it takes for the payoff to be reported to the credit agencies. So, she had her lender request a rapid rescore. It's an unscheduled update to the information on your credit reports.
Credit.com's John Ulzheimer says mortgage lenders hire outside companies to do a quick update.
"Through the process of rapid updating, they can have that information reflected within 24 to 72 hours," he says.
That can make a big difference, one professional says.
"It can take someone that's can't qualified right now and get them to that credit score level where they do qualify for a mortgage, or it might be able to get them to the level where they qualify for a better interest rate," Wayne Sanford, New Start Financial Corp., says.
Once you've done what it takes to fix your accounts, your loan officer or broker can request the rapid rescore. But it costs money - $30 for each card for each credit bureau. An update to one card, then, could be as much as $90. Also, it may not always improve the score enough to get the loan approved.
But it worked for Davenport, not just with her mortgage, but other loans, too.
"I'm able to get better rates on other cards and other types of loans, even my car loan, recently," she said.
True rapid rescoring is only available through a lender or broker, so watch out for companies that market directly to consumers. Sometimes the score involves an error, which requires a dispute that you will still need to help resolve.
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