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How to Improve Your Credit Score
By Alicia Lagan

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How your balance to credit ratio–and other factors–can help you raise your credit score on your credit report.

As you probably know, your credit score can have a huge impact on many aspects of your life. Whether you’re looking to buy a car, purchase a home, or even get a job, your credit score can often dictate the outcome for several different scenarios. Of course, not all of us have stellar credit, but fortunately there are some ways you can improve your overall score. The first thing to keep in mind is that boosting scores can take some time. Don’t expect your FICO to jump from 500 to 700 overnight. Credit score improvement is slow and steady, and can sometimes take months to a year, but the final product will be well worth it when all is said and done.

Check Your Credit Report Annually
The first thing you should do is check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, which checks your record with all three credit reporting bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). If you find a serious problem (such as identity theft) now’s your chance to fix it. Look for any old or erroneous information and get it corrected as soon as possible.

Then, take a long, hard look at your current debt. Find out what the interest rate is on all of your credit cards and loans, and do a calculation of how much interest versus principal you pay each month. Then come up with a budget and try to pay a little more than your monthly minimum so you can knock the total balance down faster.

What many people don’t realize is that balance transferring from one account to another is not always a bad thing. As long as you can try to maintain about 35% utilization on each account (this means that your balance is no more than 35% of your total available credit), your scores should improve. See if you can get a 0% APR on a new card, and transfer some balances there. Watching your spending is another way to boost your score. Once those balances start going down, the credit rating will come up. Make payment arrangements if necessary and try to settle old debts as soon as you can. All of these proactive things combined should help to boost your score so you can get what you really want in life.