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How to improve your credit score: 3 quick tips

In today's economy, a 'good' credit score is 740 or higher -- quite a few points higher than what defined a 'good' credit score just a few years ago. Plus, your credit score's importance has also increased. Today, your credit score can affect whether or not you will be approved for a car loan, mortgage, insurance, or even a job, as well as the interest rate you do get if you are approved for a loan. As a result, it is important to do all you can to raise your credit score.

Here are three quick tips that, when followed, can work towards improving your credit score.

  1. Use an old credit card.
    The credit scoring model rewards having a longer credit history which is why it is generally a good idea to hold onto old credit cards instead of cancelling them. But your credit score also places more weight on recent activity so that old card may not be providing as much value if you haven't used it in a while. If you have old credit cards, using them every few months will help ensure that your credit score gets the most benefit from these established accounts as new updates for old cards are submitted to the credit bureaus. Just make sure to pay off the charges on time since it can be easy to forget about making payments on a card you don't use regularly.

  2. Spread out your credit card debt across multiple cards.
    It does not look good if you have credit cards that are close to being maxed out. Maxed out cards are an indication that you could be having financial troubles and will be a red flag to lenders. If you have multiple cards, it may be better to spread that balance out. Instead of having one card that is 90% maxed out and two that have a zero balance, having a 30% balance on each card can help out your credit score. Paying down the debt is the best option, but spreading it out can have an impact.

  3. Make payments before creditors send updates.
    To make you credit utilization ratio look even better, take a look at your credit reports and note what day of the month your creditors are sending updates to the credit bureaus. Then, time your payments so they are recorded a few days before that reporting date (and still on time). This way, your creditors will be reporting the lowest balance on your accounts.

This strategy works because your creditors typically do not send updates to the credit bureaus at the same time as your payment due date. So, for example, if your credit card due date is the first of the month and the credit card company updates your credit reports on the 15th, even if you paid off your card completely, your credit reports will still show a balance if you have used the card since you made your payment. If you make your payments a few weeks early and get them processed right before your balance is reported to the credit bureaus, the balance they report will be as low as possible.

Of course, you should always be on the lookout for inaccurate negative information on your credit reports. Consistently look for information that is inaccurate, untimely, misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased, or unclear, and work to remove this damaging information on your credit reports.

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