It is no secret that in general, I think it is best to be totally debt free. Just take a look at my series on Debt Free Forever. However, there are times when credit is necessary, and even if you are on a cash basis, there are times when a good credit score is important.
Here are a few tips from the Federal Reserve System for improving your credit score.
1. Get Your Free Credit Report
Don’t listen to the catchy jingles and the hype. There is only one place you should go to get your free credit report and that is www.annualcreditreport.com. This is the free credit report site authorized by the Federal Reserve and you wont’ need to sign up for anything to get your free report. By law you are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting companies. You don’t need to get them all at once. Spread them out throughout the year and you can keep close tabs on your report.
Once you get your free credit report, then check it carefully to make sure it is correct. If you find anything that is incorrect, or you disagree with, contact the credit reporting agency and they will tell you how you can correct the mistake, or at the very least, add a comment to your credit report stating your side of the story.
2. Don’t Miss A Credit Card Payment
Not only are missed or late payments damaging to your credit report, they are costly! Late payment fees of $29 or more can add up quickly. Through your bank’s automatic bill pay set up an automatic payment for at least the minimum payment on your credit card. Set it to send the payment a week before it is due. That way you know you won’t be late on your payments, and you can always send in extra payments if you want to pay your credit card off more quickly.
3. Don’t Max Out Your Credit Cards
Staying well below your limit not only avoids costly over limit fees, it also improves your credit score. Companies like to see that you have plenty of credit available. It shows that you can control your spending. If you have a credit card that is close to the limit, quit using it and make an effort to make more than the minimum payment and pay down the balance.
Just three simple steps to improve your credit score. It won’t happen overnight, but the results will be worth it.