Improving your credit score
We'd like to let you know some of our best tips for developing good credit habits and improving your credit score.
Pay on time, every time
On-time payments—for all your bills, not just credit card accounts—are the foundation of good credit. Here's what you can do to help make sure you always pay on time.
- Double-check the due date each month when your billing statement arrives. It's easy to remember, since your payment is always due on the same date each month.
- Consider paying online to avoid delays in the mail.
- Sign up to have alerts sent to your computer or mobile device to remind you when your payment is due.
If you've got a lot of bills due at the same time, you could ask your credit card company to change your future due dates to a more convenient time of the month.
Borrow enough—but not too much
If you never borrow, lenders have no way of knowing about your repayment habits. But borrowing too much could lead to bills you can't afford to pay. Here are some suggestions for finding the right balance:
- Make a budget (and commit to sticking to it!)
- Your total monthly debts—not including rent or mortgage—should be no more than 30% of your total monthly income (after taxes).
- Stay within your credit limit, and avoid using the full amount of your available credit. Maxing out your cards can give lenders the impression that you're having trouble with repayment.
- Manage your available credit. Too much available credit is risky for both you and your lender. Work with your credit card company to keep your credit limit at a level that you can reasonably repay.
- Over time, use different types of credit, including credit cards, installment loans or a mortgage. This shows you can handle different types of financial situations.
Pay more than the total minimum payment
Substantial payments are a good indication that you're willing and able to repay a debt. To help improve your credit score keep your debt under control:
- Pay your balance in full each month to minimize interest charges.
- If you can't pay in full, pay as much as you can.
- If money is tight, try paying the amount of new charges plus the interest charge. This will at least keep your balance from growing.
Maintain old accounts
Keep at least one account open that you've had for a while. Use it occasionally, and pay it off in full. This will show lenders that you have a long history as a responsible borrower.
Guard your good name
Don't let errors, fraud or identity theft ruin your reputation as a trustworthy borrower. Prevent problems when you can, and correct any that may have occurred. Make it a habit to:
- Check all billing statements each month for accuracy
- Review your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion®, Equifax® and Experian®) at least once a year and promptly report any errors
- Take precautions to help protect your credit card and account numbers from fraud
Deal with problems promptly
Even the most responsible people can get into credit trouble when they lose a job or have health problems. If you're in a situation that's making it difficult to manage your credit card payments, talk to your creditors immediately. They may be willing to work with you to come up with a solution.
Take action now
Good credit habits won't just help you improve your credit score—they could help you save money. So make these habits part of your financial plan today.