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If you’re trying to figure out a way to raise your credit score, where should you start? We’ve said it before: start simple.
get the lay of the land
Before you can start improving your score, it’s good to know where you stand.
First, review your credit score, a number that’s a way for lenders to determine how likely you are to pay back a loan. It can range anywhere from poor to exceptional, but no matter where your score falls, you can always take action to improve it.
After you’ve viewed your score, look at your credit reports, which are a summary of your personal credit history. You’re entitled to one free report from each of the three reporting agencies per year.
Finally, it’s not a one and done thing – remember to check your scores and reports every once in a while to stay on top of your credit.
stay on top of things
Here’s where you can potentially start improving your score. Make sure you’re paying your bills on time. Every on-time payment will improve your credit history and may improve your credit score.
Late or missed payments will most likely have a negative impact on your credit score. A good way to make sure you’re on time is to set up reminders through your bank if you can, or even easier, set up automatic payments on your credit accounts.
When trying to improve your credit score, stick with paying down the credit accounts you already have, and avoid opening new ones. When you apply for a new card or a loan, these count as hard inquiries into your credit, and may potentially lower your score.
Also, even if you don’t use old accounts, don’t close them – your credit score may benefit from having a longer credit history.
Your credit utilization rate, or CUR, is a crucial part of your credit score to stay on top of, too. Your CUR is the percentage of credit you’re currently using. Try to keep that number as low as possible. Pay down cards that are close to their limit, or pay more than once in a billing cycle, if you can.
These are all ways to pay down your debt faster, making your high CUR a thing of the past.
There’s no magical way to build credit fast, so patience is key. Keep monitoring your credit score, credit report and credit accounts, be responsible with your credit usage, and you may just see an improvement to your credit score.