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Credit Reports: What They Are, How To Get One, How To Fix It

How To Improve Your Credit Score

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The following tips for improving your credit score come from FICO - the credit scoring company.

  • Request a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. As noted in the summary, you are entitled to a free report each year from each of the national credit bureaus. If you have to pay, cost is minimal.
  • Since paying bills on time is one of the largest factors in your score, consider setting up automatic payments or at least payment reminders. 
    • If you can't set a reminder on your computer or mobile device, many banks offer reminder services.
    • Keep in mind that paying off a collection account still doesn't remove the note from your credit report. It stays on the report for 7 years.
  • Reduce the amount of debt you owe as quickly as you can. Start by paying the bills with the highest rate of interest. (For information on setting bill paying priorities, click here.)
  • If you are having difficulty paying your bills, contact a legitimate credit counseling agency. (To learn how, click here.)
  • Keep balances as low as you can on each of your credit cards. The less you use the available credit, the better. 
  • Do not close unused credit cards as a strategy to improve your credit score. (Keep in mind that credit can be critically important in the event of uninsured medical bills).
  • Opening unnecessary credit accounts can hurt your score. However, if you can get additional credit, it can be handy because of your health history. To learn more about the new uses of credit because of your history, click here
  • When you do open new credit accounts, do not open a whole batch at once.
  • Re-establish your credit history if you have had problems. Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term.
  • Note that it's OK to request and check your own credit report. This won't affect your score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers.

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