How to Improve Your Credit Score

If you feel lost and overwhelmed with your debt situation and low credit score, you’re not alone. Between easy access to credit cards and day-to-day temptations, before you know it, things can get completely out of control. One day, you have savings in the bank and great credit, and the next day, you’re juggling payments and missing due dates. Once your credit score goes down, it’s really tough to get it back up. Here’s how to improve your credit score:

What You Can Do Right Now?

Taking action is the best way to help you feel less stressed out. Focus yourself on the things you can do to improve your credit score now, instead of the things that you can’t control.

Get a Copy of Your Credit Report. Visit annualcreditreport.com to obtain your current credit report from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can do this for free once every 12 months. Review each one carefully to make sure there are no late payment or balance errors. If you find any, dispute them directly with the credit bureaus. Your credit report is a reflection of the risk that vendors face when lending to you, so you want it to be as clean as possible.

Reduce Your Debt. Make a list of all your bills and established accounts – banking, credit cards, and regular payments – and include the interest rates. Your goal is to stop using your credit cards. Create a monthly budget, and figure out how much money you can squeeze out to apply towards debt. Beginning with your highest interest credit card, pay as much as you can each month until you pay it off. Then, move onto the debt with the next highest interest rate. Don’t forget, you’ll also need to keep making minimum payments on your other accounts. You may find that you need to make drastic changes to your lifestyle, sell cars or property, or take on additional jobs in order to have enough money to make an impact on what you owe.

Use Technology. Making payments on time (or not) can make a big difference in your credit rating. Take the time to investigate online banking text and payment reminders that may be available via text or email. You also might want to consider automatic minimum payments. While these are not long-term solutions, they can help you stay organized in your current financial situation until you are back on your feet.

What Else?

There are three more things you can start doing now to have an impact on your credit score.

1. Contact a credit counselor if you’re in over your head. If you just don’t have enough money to meet your obligations, a legitimate credit counselor can help you contact your creditors directly to settle your outstanding debt and make a realistic plan for you. These steps will not hurt your credit score and can only help you in the long run.

2. Pay your bills, and pay them on time. This habit is a must. Being even a few days late can hurt your score.

3. Stay current on your payments. A consistent pattern of current payments will show up and carry more weight than an older, poor pattern of missed payments.

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