The range of your credit score plays a major factor in many facets of your life such as whether you’ll be approved for a mortgage, what your interest rate on loans will be, and even employment opportunities. Maybe your credit score isn’t terrible, but you have plans for the future that hinge on you taking steps to improve your credit score. Building credit from the ground up and trying to raise your FICO score from fair to good or excellent are similar in that they both require active commitment and discipline to see positive results.
Check Your Credit Reports
The first step you should take when trying to improve your credit score is getting copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you want to get a free copy of your credit report from all three bureaus, visit AnnauCreditReport.com and they’ll give you one copy of each for free every 12 months. If building credit is going to be a major ongoing priority, consider pulling one credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus once every four months compared to requesting three free credit reports just once a year. These credit reports are important because they include your credit history, which lists any negative information that could be holding you back from having better credit such as missed payments or unresolved collection accounts. Some of this negative information could also include loans or credit cards signed up for fraudulently, so being aware will help you when you begin the process of credit repair to dispute these errors.
Consistently Pay Your Bills
One of the most important factors that determine your credit score is whether you make timely payments on all your bills. You may have mountains of bills preventing you from saving very much, but the important thing is that you make your bills the priority and that you consistently pay on time. Keep making payments on installment loans such as student loans and auto loans. Be sure to also make payments towards your revolving credit accounts as missed payments certainly won’t raise your credit score, and each card’s accruing interest rate will only add more debt to what you already owe. If you’re in danger of not being able to make payments, consider contacting the credit card issuers or loan companies to work out a flexible and realistic payment plan.
Be Mindful of Your Credit Utilization Ratio
If you want to see your credit score go up, one important thing to keep in mind is your credit utilization ratio. Having credit card balances in varying amounts isn’t uncommon, but when trying to improve your credit score that you do your best to keep as many of these balances as low as you can. It’s highly recommended that you never let your cards’ balances exceed more than 30% of their credit limits as it raises red flags to the major credit bureaus. Once you have paid off a balance completely it may be tempting to cancel the card completely, but the best course of action is to store it somewhere safe and don’t use it. More credit available to you on empty credit cards combined with shrinking debts on other cards will lower your credit utilization ratio and will ultimately help raise your credit score.
Limit Credit Card Applications
Trying to lower your credit utilization ratio might tempt you to go out and sign up for multiple cards thinking that if you don’t spend with them and leave them balance-free your credit score will go up. This isn’t the case as every time you apply for a credit card a hard inquiry is created on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can negatively affect your credit score, and each one will stay on your credit report for two years.