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Tips For Smart Credit

While it’s true that credit ratings evolve over time, there are still a few ways to raise your credit score a few points at a time.  The best way to get and keep a good credit score is to use credit wisely.

#1. Pay your bills on time. Having an account go to a collections agency is a blemish on your credit report that stays there for up to seven years.  If you simply forget to pay your bills on time or are guilty of always being unorganized, this will not help you get and keep a high credit score.  Consider setting certain bills up for automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you have overdue bills, plan to get them caught up.

#2. Keep a low balance on revolving accounts like credit cards. A good rule of thumb is to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limit, even if you pay them off in full each month.  It’s always better to have two, three or four cards with balances that are each below 30% of your limit than to have one card that’s consistently maxed out.

#3. Don’t close unused credit card accounts. Believe it or not, canceling a card can actually lower your score.  A better strategy is to use your older credit cards every now and then.  When you do this, the issuer doesn’t stop reporting your information to the credit bureaus. Having a long credit history is part of what helps your score, so keep this in mind.

#4. When loan shopping, try to move quickly. Your credit score gets pulled when you shop for a loan, so you should submit applications for loans all within the same time. Having lots of credit inquiries can decrease your score. The system won’t treat a group of credit inquiries within a short time unfavorably.

#5. Get a secured credit card and/or a gas store card.  When building or rebuilding your credit, a secured card can help you if it reports information to the credit bureaus. There is often an upfront security deposit which the card issuer holds as collateral. Some cards also extend you credit after you show responsible use for a minimum period of time. A gas store card can be easier to get than regular credit cards. Making small monthly charges that you pay off in full and on time each month will work wonders for boosting your credit score quickly.

 

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