Ten Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

There are no quick fixes for improving your credit score. But you can raise your score over time by demonstrating that you consistently manage your finances responsibly. Any of the following ten tips can help you to improve your credit score:

1. Pay your bills on time.
This is the best way to improve your score, and it's never too late to start. Even if you've had serious delinquencies in the past, those will count less over time if you keep paying your bills on time.

2. Keep credit card balances low.
High outstanding debt can pull down your score. Don't go maxing out your credit cards all the time.

3. Check your credit report for accuracy.
It's possible that there may be inaccurate information on your credit report that can be easily cleared up. If this proves to be the case, then you should contact one of the three credit reporting agencies - Trans Union, Experian or Equifax.

4. Pay off debt rather than moving it around.
Consolidating your credit card debt onto one card or spreading it over multiple cards will not improve your score in the long run. The most effective way to improve your score is by simply paying down the amount you owe.

5. Keep your credit cards - but manage them responsibly.
In general, having credit cards and installment loans that you pay on time will raise your score. Someone who has no credit cards tends to have a lower score than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.

6. Don't open multiple accounts too quickly, especially if you have a short credit history.
Opening too many accounts in too short of a time period can look risky because you are taking on a lot of possible debt. New accounts will also lower the average age of your existing accounts, something that your FICO score also considers.

7. Don't open new credit card accounts you don't need.
This approach could backfire and actually lower your score.

8. Don't close an account to remove it from your record.
It's a myth that closing an account removes it from your credit report. This is untrue-even closed accounts remain on your report, possibly for an indefinite period of time and may still be factored into the score. In fact, closing accounts can sometimes hurt your score unless you also pay down your debt at the same time.

9. Shop for a loan within a short, focused period of time.
FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, based in part on the length of time over which recent requests for credit occur. If you shop for a number of loans over too long a time period, it can count against you.

10. Contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor if you're having financial difficulties.
This won't improve your score immediately, but the sooner you begin managing your credit well and making timely payments, the sooner your score will get better.

Steps to Improve Your Overall Credit

If you have a history of poor credit or think that you might, it's important that you find out and take the steps to improve it. It will take time, but with discipline, you may expect to see improvement in as little as six months. You see, creditors are interested in a track record. You'll have to prove that you consistently pay your creditors on time and that you can effectively pay down your debt. Here's the simple plan to improve your credit:

Know what's on your credit report and resolve any discrepancies.
Even if you believe you have a good credit score, it is still wise to check with credit reporting agencies to make sure they contain a similar view of your credit history. It's also wise to make sure there are no errors on your report, such as name misspellings or incorrect addresses.

Plan to pay your bills on time and follow through.
You can start this today, even before you take a look at your credit report. Contact your creditors to review your payment options and catch up with any late payments. Focus on ways to reduce your spending.

Stop using credit cards now.
Paying down your credit card balances will not only improve your credit rating over time, but you'll be in a better position to negotiate a lower interest rate for your cards.

Don't live beyond your means.
Make paying your bills and buying only essential items your main priority. Carefully weigh the importance of all new purchases against the greater importance of reestablishing your good credit.
Getting a handle on your spending, paying bills on time, and paying down credit cards takes a long-term commitment and strong self-control. It won't always be easy, but the effort will pay off once you see your credit improve.