When it comes to your credit, there is no one size fits all advice: your financial state is 100% unique to you. Regardless of your situation, however, there are ways to improve your credit score, which can make your life easier in multiple ways.
Strong credit scores will almost always allow you to qualify for the best interest rates, as well as enable you to pay lower finance charges on credit cards and loans. Simply put: the less you pay in interest, the sooner you pay off debt, the more money you save in the long run.
So, what are some ways to help build up your credit?
- Keep Tabs on Your Credit Score: First and foremost, it is important to become aware of your credit and what “good credit” entails. Generally speaking, on a scale of 300 to 850, a solid credit score will hit 700 or above. You can easily obtain your credit scores from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can also get your reports for free annually by going to annualcreditreport.com.
- Pay Off Existing Debt: Consistently paying off student loans and other high interest debt can also help raise your credit score. If you are in the financial situation to pay off more than just the minimum amount on your credit cards and other loans, it will keep that interest to a minimum and keep you out of the red.
- Pay Your Bills on Time: Making on time payments and avoiding late fees is one of the most important components in maintaining good credit. Scheduling reminders for yourself and setting up automatic payments from your bank account can help ensure you can stay on top of your payments.
- Correct Credit Errors: Mistakes inevitably happen, but if they do happen at the expense of you and your credit, you should absolutely take action. If you happen to find any issues, make sure to contact a reporting agency and file a dispute as soon as possible to turn the tables on your score and avoid potential damage.
- Keep Old Credit Active: A longstanding credit history often translates to a higher score. If possible, keep old credit cards active, even if you are not using them. Also, be weary of opening new credit cards if your current score needs improvement. While opening a line of credit is a good way to initially build credit history by showing reliability, if your current credit score is need of improvement, this may invite a credit inquiry which can lower your score further.
- Request a Higher Credit Limit: Always do your best to keep your balances below your credit limit. How much you spend and the amount you owe in comparison to your overall limit has a large impact on your credit score. One possibility is to request a higher credit limit which would up the ceiling on your limit, but most importantly, be careful and limit your spending. This would improve your overall utilization ratio.