7 Steps to Improve Your Credit Scores
Do you know your credit score? If not, there are plenty of easy ways to check your credit scores online. Not only will you get the numbers, you’ll also receive information about which factors are affecting your scores the most. Of course, not all credit factors are created equal. Certain credit score factors are way more important than others. Payment history and credit utilization ratios can represent up to 70% of a credit score, which means they’re hugely influential.
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Let’s dive in! Follow these 7 steps to begin your journey to good credit:
#1. Pay Your Bills on Time
This should be a no-brainer. Keep up with all your bills and don’t let any slide or ignore them hoping they’ll just disappear. They won’t. And we’re not just talking credit card bills, car payments or student loans. We mean rent, utilities, phone bill, electric, meat of the month club, whatever, pay it and pay it on time. We recommend signing up for auto pays to help ensure you pay on time every month. This is also a good way to pay attention to your monthly costs and see what nonsense you should cancel to improve your budget. There are also a few apps that can help you out with this as well. Also, if you’re behind on any payments, bring them current as soon as possible. They ain’t going anywhere.
#2. Get Credit for Making Utility & Cell Phone Payments on Time
There are new ways to improve your credit score by factoring in those payments through free products like Experian Boost that allow you to connect your bank account to identify utility and telecom payment history.
#3. Pay off Debt and Keep Credit Card Balances Low
The credit utilization ratio is another important number in credit score calculations. It is calculated by adding all your credit card balances at any given time and dividing that amount by your total credit limit. Lenders typically like to see low ratios of 30% or less, but the lower, the better.
#4 Don’t Have a Million Credit Cards
Unnecessary credit can harm your credit score in multiple ways, from creating too many hard inquiries on your credit report to tempting you to spend a bunch of money you absolutely do not have.
#5 Don’t Close Unused Credit Cards
Don’t go nuts and start closing credit accounts either. Keeping unused credit cards open (as long as you’re not paying high annual fees) is a smart strategy because closing an account may increase your credit utilization ratio. Open credit card accounts that you don’t use means you have a bunch of credit that you’re not using.
#6 Don’t Apply for Too Much New Credit
Don’t go nuts and start applying for a bunch of new credit cards, either! The act of applying for a credit card creates a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score, and they remain on your credit report for two years.
#7 Pay Attention
If you see something, say something! You should check your credit reports at all three credit reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) for inaccuracies and dispute any you find. Incorrect information on your credit reports could drag your scores down unnecessarily and you may not even know it if you don’t look!