You may not review your credit report and/or score that often, so who knows what is hidden in there. Each of the three major credit bureaus can provide a free copy of your credit report once a year, although the score is not included. To view your score, check your credit card statement, as creditors are now providing on a monthly basis. It’s always a good idea to check your report to make sure that information is accurate, but no matter where your score is, you should always strive for perfection, in order to take advantage of the best interest rates on the market.
Regular On-Time Payments
One of the largest factors of your credit score is payment history, so if you have had late payment troubles in the past, now is the time for regular on-time payments. Not only may you get hit with a late fee and an interest rate spike if you are even a day late, but if you are more than thirty days late it will hit your credit report and may stay on there for lenders to see for the next seven years.
Keep Debt Under Control
Equally important as payment history is the difference between your debt and available credit, so the closer you are towards your limit, the lower your score will be. Not only is it important to stay out of debt, but to increase your credit availability. Here in lies the willpower, as you are getting credit lines increased, the trick would be to not increase spending. Not only does debt hurt your credit score, but every balance that carries over to the next month will be collecting interest, which could be upwards of 16% APR, so the higher the balance, the higher you could be wasting to creditors.
Limit Credit Applications
While you will be notified if credit pulled, any time you have your credit information pulled it can reduce your credit score. If you are already a customer you may get a soft pull, which may not lower your score. The inquiries can stay on your credit report for a couple of years, so you want to make sure that whenever you are having credit pulled that it is a need that you are going through with, such as a mortgage, or car lease, even a better credit card. Too many inquiries and it could give the wrong impression to lenders that you are looking to go on a charging spree.
Leave Zero Balance Accounts Open
Paying off a credit card is a huge relief and weight off your shoulders, so much in fact you deserve to celebrate being credit card debt free, so much in fact that you cut up the card and close the account. Only half of that is correct. If you want to avoid using the card you should cut up the card, but actually leave the account open so you keep that credit availability. Closing the account could actually reduce your credit score in the process.