1. Know Your Numbers!
One of the best ways to improve your credit is to be aware of your credit score! Several websites, apps, and even certain credit card companies will provide free credit information. Here are some of our favorite resources for checking credit scores:
Mint is a free app that allows you to monitor your balance and transactions on debit and credit cards and provides your credit score through Equifax. Plus, it has bill reminders and high spending alerts so you can stay up to date on payment deadlines and your money flow.
Annual Credit Report provides a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each credit reporting company, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, so you can get a complete look at your credit.
You probably know CreditKarma from one of their many commercials, but Credit Karma does allow you access to your free Equifax and TransUnion credit score and also features several handy financial tools. Once you check your score, you can sign up for email alerts when your credit score has been updated. The site also allows you to set financial goals and will show you how long it will take to pay off your debt with their debt repayment calculator.
2. Pay Your Bills on Time.
Paying on time is one of the most important factors of good credit. Late payments and collections often have a negative impact on your credit score. A great way to stay on top of your payment due dates is by setting up calendar alerts ahead of time! It may also be helpful to get emailed statements and bill reminders from your credit card company.
3. Don’t Let Your Balance Get Too High.
High outstanding debt can obstruct a good credit score. Usually a credit card balance over 35% of your limit can begin to hurt your credit score. Be mindful if you’ve racked up some high charges and work to pay off high debt as quickly as possible. It’s also important to pay off your debt rather than move it around. If you have a large balance, make a game plan for paying it off.
4. Avoid Applying for and Opening Too Many Accounts.
Applying for or opening too many accounts may negatively impact your credit score. If you have been managing credit for only a short amount of time, don’t rush to open more credit accounts. Only apply for the credit you need and don’t take on more than you can handle. If you’re unsure about what to do, speak with a customer service representative or a financial advisor.
5. Don’t Stop Using Your Credit.
If you have a low credit score, you may be afraid of continuing to use your credit card. However, it is important to work to improve your credit score and show lenders that you are responsible. Just remember to be aware of your spending and to stay on top of your payments.