Todd Christensen Profile Picture
Staff Writer at Debt Reduction Services

The Guiding Principle behind each of the following tips is to manage and use your credit wisely: pay your debts according to the terms you have signed and avoid excessive debt. Read through the following tips for ideas on how you can personally increase your credit score and better your overall credit standing.

Credit Score

Tip #10: Check your credit report at least annually for mistakes and inaccuracies. Go to  www.AnnualCreditReport.com to print and download your free report for each of the three national credit reporting agencies. If you want your credit score as well, you will be required to pay for it. Checking your own credit report in this way will not harm your credit.

Tip #9: Live within an established budget and replace poor spending habits with disciplined spending. Balance your checkbook regularly to avoid bouncing checks.

Tip #8: Know your credit limit and stay away from it. “Maxing out” your credit cards can hurt your credit score.

Tip #7: Stay in contact with your creditor when troubles arise with an account. Work in good faith to pay as agreed, or consider arranging a modified payment plan. Accounts in collections or charged off will negatively affect your score for at least 7 years. When you struggle to make even the minimum payments, contact a reputable credit counseling organization such as Debt Reduction Services.

Tip #6: Avoid applying for a lot of new credit accounts within a short period, particularly if you have little or no credit history. See next tip.

Tip #5: Don’t be afraid of Credit Counseling. In 1998, FICO dropped credit counseling as a factor influencing the credit scoring model, in part because we’ve learned that individuals actually become less of a credit risk when they receive credit counseling. (Michael Staten. Georgetown University. March 2002).

Tip #4: Don’t close accounts in good standing as a “quick fix.” Information from any account, whether closed or open, remains on your credit report for 7 years.

Tip #3: Pay down the total balances owed on your credit accounts. Don’t just transfer money from one card to another. Make it a goal to avoid purchasing anything on a credit card you won’t pay off with the next credit card statement.

Tip #2: Get current on your credit accounts. If you’ve missed or been late on payments, find a way to get caught up. It will take six months of on-time payments, but negative effects of late or missed payments decrease over time.

Tip #1: Pay all of your bills on time and in full every month. If you have secure access to the internet, consider paying your bills online to avoid mail delivery delays.

4 Bonus Tips For Our Clients Wanting to Increase Their Credit Score

While on our Debt Consolidation Program, some may feel that building or repairing their credit without a major credit card is an insurmountable challenge. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Maintain checking and savings accounts: While not the case before 2004, banking practices (like bouncing checks) can now affect an individual’s credit score.
  2. Sign up for phone or utility services in your name: Although a security deposit may be required, your history of full and on-time monthly payments to these companies will build a pattern of effective credit management.
  3. Consider a prepaid or secured credit card through a bank or credit union. Not to be confused with a debit card, these cards will likely carry regular use or deposit fees. One benefit of a secured card is that you begin developing disciplined credit habits. However, the bank may or may not report the account to the credit bureaus.
  4. Consider having a parent or family member co-sign with you for unavoidable loans, such as a car. Be careful, though, not to compromise their finances. If you don’t pay, they will be held responsible.

Best wishes as you continue working to become debt free. It’s not always easy, but in the end, it will be well worth your effort.

Have Questions About Improving Your Credit Score?

Comment Below And We’ll Answer Right Away!

We regularly check our articles and blog posts for new comments and make it a priority to respond quickly.

So if you need more information regarding how you can improve your credit score or have any other questions about your personal finances, please feel free to comment below and we’ll get back on and answer as fast as we can!

1-877-OUT-DEBT (688-3328)

Disclaimer: Score and modeling may vary from lender to lender. Because of the complicated nature of the statistical models and abundance of information on credit reports, these tips cannot be considered guarantees to improving your credit score.

Photo Credit: Cafe Credit via Flicker, under the Creative Commons License

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