by Trish Townsend
Credit scores are a necessary part of making big financial decisions these days. Whether it’s buying a car, getting a mortgage, or even applying for some jobs, a high score shows you’re a responsible individual. If you’ve made some mistakes with your credit in the past, all is not lost. Here are three tips to help increase your score:
- Make payments on time. Don’t skip payments or send them in late. The best way to build or rebuild credit is to make on-time payments with your regular bills month after month. Make sure you pay one-time fees on time as well, such as for a doctor’s appointment, library overdue fee, or membership dues. These kinds of charges don’t normally appear on your credit report, but they will if you are late paying them and they end up going to a collection agency.
- Make consistent payments. Sending huge amounts to a creditor, then pulling back and barely making minimum payments or skipping a payment may hint at underlying financial issues and could suggest that you are not responsible with your money or your credit. Likewise, suddenly taking out cash advances or applying for short-term loans may set off alarm bells and lower your credit score. Set a monthly payment amount for debts you owe or credit cards, and pay that amount month in, month out over time. Concentrate on paying off one debt at a time if you have several by making one robust payment and paying the minimum on others, rather than throwing varying amounts of money at different accounts month to month. Once you pay off one, focus on consistently paying down the next. Never skip payments. Consistency and perseverance can pay off in the form of a higher credit rating.
- Keep credit card balances manageable. That high spending limit can be extremely tempting, especially if money is tight and you’re yearning after a big-ticket item, want to buy gifts or a few extras, or are planning a vacation. Resist the urge to just “charge it.” A good rule of thumb is to never let your credit card spending exceed 30 percent of your available balance. Remember, if your balance soars above that, it could take many years to pay off if you’re making minimum payments—and you’ll repay it many times over due to interest charges. Carrying too much credit card debt can also further damages your credit. Keeping your debt level low helps to show you are a responsible and trustworthy borrower.
If you are concerned about your credit rating or struggling to get out of debt or control spending, help is available. Speak to a Milford Bank representative for more advice about how to improve your credit score and manage your overall finances.