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Tips for improving your credit score

Wednesday Jun 16, 2010

We all know how hard it is to achieve good credit and keep your score high. Starting the minute you pay a bill more than 30 days late or default on a loan, your credit score can go into a downward spin, leading you into a world of financial instability.

However, there are ways to improve your credit score after it drops.

1. Make sure your credit reports do not contain any errors- no matter how small. Even the tiniest error can cause you to get denied for any type of credit, so order all three reports and scour them for mistakes. Another good option is to order free credit reports from companies that offer them. Most of these companies will send you your credit report, and as long as you cancel their services quickly, you won't end up with any chargers. If you find three different companies and stagger your reports every three months you can get accurate reports often.

2. I know this tip seems obvious, but paying your bills on time is critical in bringing up your credit score. Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, and since bill payments make up 35% of your total credit score, you need to make sure no bills are paid more than 30 days after the due date. One year of on-time payments can significantly improve your score, so if you do mess up, assume it will take a year to fix.

3. If you think you’re doing everything right and you still aren’t seeing results, take a look at your debt-to-credit ratio. If you have maxed-out credit cards you need to pay them down. Your credit cards should never be more than 40% full, this shows creditors that you can be responsible with limits. And if you think you’re outsmarting the system by moving your debt around (transferring balances), you’re not.

4. Credit will follow you for a lifetime, so you need to commit to the long haul. Don’t open and close accounts in chunks, instead spread them out over years. If you decide to open an account, commit to it and keep it for as long as possible. The longer you have good standing with an account, the better it looks on your score.

If you follow these steps and make on-time payments, there is no reason why you cannot eventually achieve the good credit you have always wanted.

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