Whip Your Credit Score Into Shape

If you have an on-the-go lifestyle (and who doesn’t these days?), the last thing you want to worry about is what shape your credit score is in.

But just like you need to spend time and effort on getting your physical self in shape, you need to devote some time and effort toward getting – and keeping – your credit history in shape.

There are lots of ways to do that. A good place to start is
finding out where your credit history currently stands. You can do so at www.annualcreditreport.com, where you can order free credit reports once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies.

If you come across any incorrect information while reviewing your reports, immediately contact the credit reporting company involved to get it corrected. Inaccuracies could drag down your credit score.

And it may be a good idea to refrain from ordering all three reports at once. If you stagger the reports by ordering one from each company every four months, you can essentially get free credit reports throughout the year.

Here are some more tips to help whip your credit score into shape:

  • Work on establishing a long, solid credit history. This will reduce your chances of being labeled by lenders as a poor credit risk.
  • Always pay your bills on time, and make sure you pay at least the minimum amounts due. If you’re too busy to keep track of when all of your bills are due, sign up for electronic bill pay with your bank or credit card company. At the very least, set up payment reminders on your smart phone or electronic tablet so you don’t forget to make your payments on time.
  • Don’t apply for more credit than you really need. If your credit history shows a flurry of activity as far as trying to open several credit cards over a short period of time, it will send up a red flag for lenders. This could conceivably lead them to think you’ve encountered some financial difficulties.
  • If you get behind on paying one or more bills, make a conscious effort to catch up on those payments as soon as possible.
  • Don’t overextend your credit. Experts generally recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of your total credit limit.
  • Closing credit card accounts and moving their balances over to another card may sound good in theory, but it won’t necessarily have a positive impact on your credit score. You’re better off paying down your debt as soon as possible rather than moving it around. This is especially true if you have small balances on several cards.

Keep in mind that putting in the time and effort to strengthen your credit score and keep it in tip-top shape will ultimately be beneficial down the road when you’re looking to buy a house, take out a loan, or refinance an existing one. Good luck!

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