This is a guest post by Becky Frost of Experian Consumer Services.
Whether you’re a rental rookie or a pro at moving into a new pad, you might underestimate how costly a big move can be.
Take a break from the heavy lifting and learn what it takes to make sure your credit stays intact through the bubble wrap and duct tape.
Before the move
Give yourself time to get your personal finances organized. This includes taking a good look at your monthly budget, assessing your debt to income ratio and also checking your credit score. Once you have an idea of how much rent you can afford, don’t forget to give yourself room for emergencies. Many experts agree that having a savings account with at least three months of rent is best for avoiding pitfalls.
Learning what’s in your credit report will give you a solid idea of your chances of being approved for your new digs. If you have a score that’s not the highest, you may want to give yourself more time to the take steps toward building healthier credit behavior before property managers start to ask to pull your report. That will save you hassle and time… and headaches.
As you start to get an idea of where you plan to make your new home, be careful not to submit too many rental applications. Too many inquiries on your credit report could cause a hit to your credit score.
Read the applications carefully to make sure you know what you’re signing. You want to know when someone will be running your credit and you may be signing your ‘ok’ for them to do it in some of the fine print.
During the move
Be sure all your accounts are current and up to date with your new billing address to avoid any unexpected billing discrepancies. Many times reoccurring mail like monthly magazines and credit card statements go unnoticed in a move. Missing payments or making them over 30 days late could be reported by your creditors and also cause a dip in your score. Avoid missing payments or important billing statements by setting up a mail-forward with the U.S. Postal Service.
For added convenience, check out online bill pay, if you haven’t already. Monitoring and paying bills online will also give you a record of which accounts have been paid. This is particularly important to help keep credit cards paid on time. Keep in mind that some utility providers can now report payment histories to credit bureaus.
After the move
While you may want to put that great new sofa on your credit card (along with the whole living room and bedroom set), resist the urge to overuse your credit cards. You’ll also want to seriously consider before you finance home appliances through retail cards.
Include move-in costs, deposit, pet fees (if you have a dog or cat you’re bringing with you), truck rentals and home goods in your moving budget, and try to have the cash on hand to pay for your expenses. You may need extra money on hand for pizza to feed any friends who help you move, too!
Once you’ve nestled into your new apartment, start to spruce up the place – but keep your monthly budget in mind. Often, new renters jump to use their available credit for large purchases like appliances, furniture and fun decor.
And while it’s always best to pay the full balance of a credit card as soon as possible, missing a minimum payment on your credit card will have a negative impact on your score. So, make that minimum payment on time… if nothing else.
With these simple tips, you can rest easy anytime you’re packing up and moving on!
About Becky Frost
Becky Frost is Senior Manager of Consumer Education for Experian Consumer Services, which offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.comTM. Find Becky on Google.
This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Apartment Guide.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / Hasloo Group Production Studio, Blend Images