Credit Basics

4 Tips to Improving Your Credit Score

boost credit score on post it note

Say the word, ‘credit’ and most people cringe. Yet, your credit score is one of the most important numbers in your life. It signals to the financial world how reliable you are. So, improving your credit score is important for your overall financial health.

Use these four tips to start your journey.

  1. Maintain a positive payment history.

Keeping all open accounts current and paid in a timely manner will help highlight your current credit management skills. Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO score calculation.* The older your credit history, the more credible you’ll be.

  1. Keep your credit balances low without closing the accounts.

Maintaining a low balance on your revolving accounts, such as credit cards or lines of credit, is a positive on your credit report. This is an easy way to boost a credit score.

For example, if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit and a current balance of $900, it means you only have 10 percent of available credit. The general rule of thumb is to keep your available credit at 70 percent or higher. People with the best credit scores usually only use around eight percent of their available credit.

Man checking card balance
Check your card balances and pay them off as soon as possible

Your length of credit history, or how long you have had credit, comprises 15 percent of your FICO score.** Because of this, you do not want to “close” your older credit cards. Even if you don’t use them, it’s good to keep them active. One way to do so is to charge a small recurring subscription like Hulu or Netflix to a card and pay it off each month with autopay.

Your FICO credit score is a number that represents your creditworthiness, and it’s built on your credit history. It’s a number lenders use to help them know how likely it is that they will be repaid on time. People with higher credit scores tend to have lower credit risk.

  1. Settle any medical debt or unpaid debt.

Having this debt can hurt your credit rating and restrict your ability to borrow. When it comes to unpaid medical bills, medical providers rarely receive payment in full. Most providers or debt collectors are willing to settle these unpaid bills with a payment arrangement or settlement offer.

Medical billing statement
Pay off medical bills as soon as you can

For example, if you have three small medical bills of less than $300 in collections, you may be able to settle the debt and remove them from your credit report, which can positively impact your credit score.

Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain your credit report. You can obtain a copy once a week from each credit bureau until April 20, 2022, and once each year after that. It’s free.

  1. Review your credit frequently.

Checking your credit history and credit scores can help you better understand your current credit position. Plus, it can help you detect inaccurate information. Requesting copies does not harm your credit score and could help you see opportunities to boost your score immediately.

stressed woman going over bills
Review your credit balances

Everyone’s credit score is unique to them. For example, scores for someone who has not used credit long will be calculated differently than those with a longer credit history.

Follow these tips to get your credit score back on track. If you understand and monitor your credit activity, you’ll stay on the path to a successful financial future.

Check out our other blogs for more helpful credit tips:

Sources: *FICO **FICO

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