Would you like to have a higher credit score? Who wouldn’t? A strong credit score means more access to loans and credit opportunities, plus better interest fees and terms. Whether your credit is good or you’ve had some setbacks, taking actions to improve your score is always worth your time. Here are some tips on improving your credit score.
1 – Know Your Score
If you don’t currently know your credit score, it’s a great idea to look it up now. Knowing where your score is presently will allow you to monitor it effectively in the future. After all, you need to know where your current score is in case it raises or drops unexpectedly.
Each year, you can receive one free credit report from one of three agencies: Experian, EquiFax, or TransUnion.
Beyond those traditional credit reporting bureaus, there are also other credit monitoring services out there. Check with your financial institution to see if they offer a solution.
2 – Remove Errors on Your Report
Small clerical mistakes happen, but those mistakes can become big obstacles with your credit. Review your free credit reports very carefully. Look for missed payments or accounts you don’t recognize. NerdWallet has a good article on disputing credit errors here.
3 – Pay Off Debts
Having debt with a collection agency will greatly negatively affect your credit score. Paying off debts is easily the biggest action you can take to improve your credit score.
4 – Improve Your Payment History
Unless they were an error, late payments can not be erased from your credit report, even if you close an account. The best way forward is to ensure future payments are made on time, perhaps by utilizing auto-payments. Once payments are on time for several months, you’ll start seeing improvements to your score.
5 – Have A Low Credit Utilization
Your credit utilization rate is based on how much of your credit limit you typically use. Credit reporting bureaus like to see a utilization rate at 30% or less. That means if you have a credit limit of $10,000, you never exceed a balance of $3,000.
6 – Keep Unused Credit Card Accounts Open
Each credit card balance you hold contributes to your credit limit. Your credit limit and how you utilize credit is one of the considerations in calculating your overall credit score. Even if you have a card you rarely use, keeping that line of credit open is more valuable to your credit score than closing the account.
7 – Only Apply For and Open New Credit Cards If Needed
So if credit card balances help your score, you should just open a lot of credit options, right? Wrong. Every time you apply for a new card, you create a hard inquiry into your credit history. This inquiry will only impact your score a little bit, but it can add it up if you go crazy applying for cards.