We understand life can be unpredictable at times, but if you’re in a place where you can get back into the swing of things here are 10 simple yet effective ways to spring clean your credit:
1. Pay your bills on time. If you have a history of paying your bills on time, you’ll have an easier time getting a mortgage loan, car loan or credit cards. Even if you’ve had serious delinquencies in the past, a recent history (24 months) of on-time payments carries weight in credit decisions.
2. Keep credit card balances low. High outstanding debt can pull your score down.
3. Check your credit report for accuracy. Inaccurate information on your credit report can be cleared up easily. Always contact the original creditor and the credit bureaus whenever you clear up an error so that the inaccurate information won’t reappear later.
4. Pay down debt. Spreading it over multiple cards will not improve your score in the long run. The most effective way to improve your credit is by slowly paying down the amount you owe.
5. Use credit cards – but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards and installment loans that you pay on time will raise your score. Someone who has no credit card tends to have a lower score than someone who has already proven that he can manage credit cards responsibly.
6. Don’t open multiple accounts too quickly, especially if you have a short credit history. This can look risky because you are taking on a lot of possible debt. New accounts will also lower the average age of your existing accounts which is something your credit score also considers.
7. Don’t close an account to remove it from your record. A closed account will still show up on your credit report. In fact, closing accounts can sometimes hurt your score unless you also pay down your debt at the same time.
8. Shop for a loan within a focused period of time. Credit scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, based in part on the length of time over which recent requests for credit occurred.
9. Don’t open new credit card accounts you don’t need. This approach could backfire and actually lower your score.
10. Contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor if you’re having financial difficulties. This won’t raise your score immediately, but the sooner you begin managing your credit well and making timely payments, the sooner your score will improve.
These ideas won’t create a dramatic improvement in your credit score overnight, but over time, they will. Remember, it takes time to develop a strong profile. Once you’ve done it, you’ll find it easier to apply for credit and favorable interest rates.