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Friday
Jun012012

Tips to a great credit score

If you are trying to establish credit history, here are a few tips on how you can raise your credit score.

Pay your bills on time

A history of paying your bills on time will help raise your credit score.

Limit Outstanding Debt

High balances on credit cards can lower your score. As a general rule you should try to keep your credit card balances at 35% or below. Do not consolidate all your debt onto one credit card for this reason, or you may see a drop in your credit score.

Refrain from applying for credit needlessly

Each application for credit will show up as an inquiry on your credit report. These inquiries may stay on your report up to two years and can potentially lower your credit score. Only apply for new credit accounts as needed, not to increase your available credit, and don't apply for multiple credit cards in a short period of time.

Be careful when closing old accounts

You should consider closing old accounts that are charging you annual fees or a very high interest rate. On the other hand, one thing to consider when closing old accounts is not to close your oldest account on your credit report, as that may lower your credit score due to the fact that your credit history may appear shorter than it really is. Here is a good article from CreditKarma about closing old accounts.

...What if I have bad credit already?

There is no "Quick Fix" for bad credit. Improving your credit takes time to prove that you can pay and manage your bills reponsibly. According to Experian.com, "You don’t rebuild the credit score. You rebuild your credit history, which then is reflected by your credit score. The length of time to rebuild your credit history after a negative change depends on the reasons behind the change." 

  • Delinquencies remain on your credit report for seven years.
  • Most public record items remain on your credit report for 7 years, although some bankruptcies may remain for 10 years and unpaid tax liens remain for 15 years.
  • Court Judgements, Charged-off/Closed Accounts, and Late Payments (small claims, civil and child support) can stay up to 7 years.

Where can I get my score?

There are 3 National Credit Bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion where you can obtain your credit information. Be sure to check for inaccuracies on your report and dispute them to the Credit Bureau right away.