Credit is something that some take lightly or give little thought to until it’s really needed. There are 10 things that you can do to make sure that your credit is always in good standing so it will be available when needed.
1) Pay your bills on time. A consistent history of timely payments will greatly improve your credit profile and will, therefore, make you more desirable to lenders. In many cases, a strong payment history in your credit reports will also result in better interest rates.
2) If possible, pay your bill in full every month. This will help to save you money in finance charges, especially credit cards with high interest rates, and will make your credit reports even stronger.
3) Avoid carrying a balance of more than 50% of your total credit limit on any credit card.
4) If you notice any incorrect information on your credit reports, dispute it in writing with the credit bureau immediately. You may also find it helpful to contact the creditor directly, notify them of the incorrect information and ask that they correct it with the credit bureau and on each of your credit reports.
5) If you have recently filed for bankruptcy, start rebuilding your credit with either a secured credit card or one that is known to be bankruptcy-friendly. The latter often requires higher interest be paid, but your credit score will begin to rise after three months of a steady payment history is listed in your credit reports.
6) If you have old accounts that are listed as being open, but are actually closed, call the creditor and send a letter to the credit bureau. Often times, creditors simply never report an account as being closed with the credit bureaus. If you have a lot of available credit on your report, potential lenders may wonder why you need all of this open credit and what your plans are for it’s use. A large number of apparently open accounts with a zero balance may put you in the high risk loan category if the lender suspects you plan to increase your debt load substantially with your unused credit.
7) Avoid excessively applying for credit as this may lower your credit score because of multiple inquiries.
8) Use your credit cards for necessities only and avoid spending more than you could repay within six months.
9) If your credit cards have excessively high credit limits that you never plan to use, call the creditor and ask that they reduce your credit limit to an amount that you are comfortable with. This will not only reduce the temptation of overspending, but will also prevent potential lenders from seeing that you have a lot of available credit and suspecting that you plan to go into serious debt.
10) The best way to improve your credit reports is to review the information filed with each of the three major credit bureaus every six months. These include TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. A free copy of credit reports can be obtained every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.