Because of the way credit scores are calculated, some actions you take will affect your credit score better than others. In general, paying your bills on time and meeting your financial responsibilities will boost your score the most. Owing a reasonable amount of money and being able to repay it will show lenders that you take your finances seriously and pose little threat of lost money. There are a few tips that, more than any other, will boost your credit score the most:
Tip # 4: Pay your bills on time.
One of the best ways to improve your credit score is simply to pay your bills on time. This is absurdly simple but it works very well, because nothing shows lenders that you take debts seriously as much as a history of paying promptly. Every lender wants to be paid in full and on time.
If you pay all your bills on time then the odds are good that you will make the payments on a new debt on time, too, and that is certainly something every lender wants to see. Experts think that up to 35% of your credit score is based on your paying of bills on time, so this simple step is one of the easiest ways to boost your credit score.
Paying your bills on time also ensures that you don’t get hit with late fees and other financial penalties that make paying your bills off harder. Paying your bills in a timely way makes it easier to keep making payments on time.
Of course, if you have had problems making your payments on time in the past, your current credit score will reflect this. It will take a number of months of repaying your bills on time to improve your credit score again, but the effort will be well worth it when your credit risk rating rebounds!
Tip #5: Avoid excessive credit.
If you have many lines of credit or several huge debts, you make a worse credit risk because you are close to “overextending your credit.” This simply means that you may be taking on more credit than you can comfortably pay off. Even if you are making payments regularly now on existing bills, lenders know that you will have a harder time paying off your bills if your debt load grows too much.
The higher your debts the greater your monthly debt payments and so the higher the risk that you will eventually be able to repay your debts. Plus, statistical studies have shown that those with high debt loads have the hardest time financially when faced with a crisis such as a divorce, unemployment, or sudden illness.
Lenders (and credit bureaus who calculate your credit score) know that the more debt you have the greater problems you will have in case you do run into a life crisis.
In order to have a great credit score, avoid taking out excessive credit. You should stick to one or two credit cards and one or two other major debts (car loan, mortgage) in order to have the best credit rating. Do not apply for every new credit line or credit card “just in case.” Borrow only when you need it and make sure to make payments on your debts on time.
You should also know that taking out lots of new credit accounts in a relatively short period of time will cause your credit score to nosedive because it will look as though you are being financially irresponsible.
Tip #6: Pay down your debts.
If you have a lot of debt, your credit score will suffer. Paying down your debts to a minimum will help elevate your credit score. For example, if you have a $1000 limit on your credit card and you regularly carry a balance of $900, you will be a less attractive credit risk to lenders than someone who has the same credit card but carries a smaller balance of $100 or so. If you are serious about improving your credit score, then start with the largest debt you have and start paying it down so that you are using a less large percentage of your credit total.
In general, try to make sure that you use no more than 50% of your credit. That means that if your credit card has a limit of $5000, make sure that you pay it down to at least $2500 and work at carrying no larger balance. If possible, reduce the debt even more. If you can pay off your credit card in full each month, that is even better. What counts here is what percentage of your total credit limit you are using – the lower the better.
Tip #7: Have a range of credit types.
The types of credit you have are a factor in calculating your credit score. In general, lenders like to see that you are able to handle a range of credit types well. Having some form of personal credit – such as credit cards – and some larger types of credit – such as a mortgage or auto loan – and paying them off regularly is better than having only one type of credit.