| July 25, 2013

Simple ways to improve your credit score

Whether a consumer has a pile of credit card debt or has missed a few payments, there is a good chance their credit score declined, which can have numerous financial implications. For example, a damaged score can potentially make it difficult to secure an auto loan or mortgage. 

Anyone who sees their credit history isn't up to par should take the necessary steps to repair it, such as:

Step No. 1 – Obtain a copy of your credit report

The first step when attempting to repair a credit score should be to get a report. This document can provide information as to why a person's credit has taken a hit. For example, people could see that their utilization is too high or might even find errors. Any mistakes on a report can be resolved, and other causes of damage can be repaired. No matter how a credit score has been hurt, obtaining a copy of the report from one of the major bureaus is essential. 

Step No. 2 – Pay bills before the due date

One of the many reasons people may see their scores fall is a lot of debt, which hurts the credit utilization ratio. To improve this, consumers can pay down their balances, and one of the best ways to do so is to ensure payments are made before the due date. Not only does this guarantee that a payment will never be missed, but it also allows the low balance to be reported to credit bureaus once the billing cycle is completed. 

Step No. 3 – Stop using credit so much to keep balances low

Paying down balances is a good start for consumers, but it won't do them much good unless they keep their debt levels low. That said, after reducing their debt, it would be wise to ease off the credit cards for a while to allow their credit utilization ratio to remain low, which can boost their credit score. 

Step No. 4 – Ask bureaus for a "goodwill" deletion

Oftentimes, consumers see their credit scores fall due to past negative information. A count that went to collections can stay on a report for years, however, it can be removed by asking for a "goodwill" deletion. While this won't always be successful, asking never hurts. 

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host the of MissMoneyBee.com, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public.

April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others.

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