Your credit score is essentially the score of life. Lenders look at your score to determine how likely you are to pay back the debt that you owe. A high score (670 or higher) confirms that you consistently pay back your debt on time. Your score can guarantee that you get approved for big-ticket items such as an auto loan, apartment, or home loan, while a low score can hinder your financial wellness.
Here are four simple ways to improve and maintain a high credit score:
- Keep your oldest card open. The longer your credit history, the higher your score. Whether you still use your oldest credit card, or not, hold on to it. Your oldest credit card indicates the length of your credit history. In other words, your credit history began the day you opened your first credit card. If you were to close that card, the clock would restart, and you would lose all that valuable time you spent building your credit.
- Pay your bills on time. One late or missed payment can negatively impact your score. Be proactive about making your payments on time. If you foresee an issue meeting your due date, contact your creditor immediately to figure out a solution. Creditors are usually willing to work with you. They may be able to reduce your monthly payment or change your due date to one that works better for your budget.
- Maintain a low balance. The lower your monthly balance is, the higher your score. Don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month. By maintaining a low balance (no more than 20% of your limit), you are conserving your credit limit. Keeping your balance lower than your available credit limit is a strong indication that you are financially responsible.
- Check your statements often. Identity theft can tarnish your credit score. Be dedicated to reviewing your monthly account statements. Taking a couple of minutes to scroll through the transactions could save you thousands of dollars. If you see a charge that you didn’t make, contact your financial institution immediately. You can also request a free copy of your credit reports every year at annualcreditreport.com.
Ultimately, using credit responsibly will earn you a solid credit score that will open doors.