Now that the holidays are over and a new year has begun, it’s time to get started on those 2017 financial goals! One task to focus on immediately that makes every other goal easier is to improve your credit score. Here are some easy ways to start getting your score moving in the right direction.
How to Boost Your Credit Score
The higher your credit score, the easier it will be to get credit, secure loans, or make big purchases. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a step-by-step process for raising your score. Rather, there are a number of financial moves to make that all serve to improve it. Each of these tasks centers on upgrading an element of your credit that contributes to how scores are generated. There’s no quick fix to lift your score overnight, but consistent effort on these objectives will pay off over time.
Score Improvement Methods
- Paying Down Debts – A large factor in determining your score is your credit utilization ratio. In simple terms, this is the amount of your outstanding debt vs. your total available credit. If you reduce or eliminate debt, then your ratio improves and your score goes up.
- Stop Using Credit Cards – Reducing debt is pointless if you’re adding it right back on a different card. If possible, switch to a cash budget to help control spending and avoid new debt.
- Don’t Open New Cards – It might seem like an easy way to “improve” your credit utilization ratio, but each time you apply for new credit your score takes a hit.
- Don’t Close Old Cards – You might think it’s smart to close cards after you pay them off, but doing this hurts your credit utilization ratio. Instead of closing cards, just leave them at home while you continue to implement your debt reduction plan. This is especially smart because older credit card accounts look better on your credit report.
- Be a Responsible Borrower – Staying current on your debt repayment is critical for more than just maintaining your credit score. Your credit history follows you and affects your life drastically. Be sure that you’re making payments on time and staying current on all of your accounts. Budgeting effectively will ensure that you’re able to stay on top of your debt repayment. If you find yourself struggling with your debts regardless of budgeting efforts, it may be time to research debt consolidation options.
Most of these methods are just smart personal financial practices anyway, but if you need to raise your credit score, then they are especially important. If you’re planning to purchase a house or car or take out a loan for any reason this year, buckle down now to raise your score and get the best possible interest rates.