Improve credit score | CoupleWealth
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Having excellent (even perfect) credit IS achievable. A good FICO (Credit) score plays a big role in financial success, so I’m offering my top 10 credit tips.

1. Track your credit score with free tracking services

Companies such as, an affiliate of TransUnion, provide complimentary credit reports annually. Wells Fargo and other banks also offer clients free credit tracking.

The only way to improve your credit score is to know what it is to begin with. Over time, you’ll be able to see if it is improving or decreasing. This will help you make changes to reach your goals.

2. Pay your bills on time

One of the top reasons for a poor credit score is due to not paying your bills on time. Repeated late payments will hurt your credit score, so always try to pay them on time.

Use online banking to simplify paying bills and eliminate the cost of postage. Plus, you can set up payments to pay bills on a future date, eliminating the chances of forgetting to mail it. I request the bank send payments out 4 business days prior to the due date.

3. Use your credit to build it

It is possible not to have a credit score. To have a score you must use credit, but you need to use it responsibly to achieve the best score.

To help build your credit, use it regularly. This could be as simple as buying your coffee every morning on a credit card and paying it off right away. As long as you show a history of using and paying off debt, it will help your credit score.

4. Don’t charge over 50% of your credit card’s limit

For example, let’s say you have a card with a $5,000 limit, then it would be best not to let your balance exceed $2,500 on that card. Use two cards for larger purchases if you have to.

This tip seems to be a little-known piece of the credit equation, but makes a big difference. I write the limit on the front of my cards with permanent marker as a reminder.

5. Pay off revolving credit monthly

Revolving credit is most commonly your credit cards. Charging a small amount and paying it off at the end of each month shows responsible use of credit. Over time, you will establish your reliability to creditors.

6. Pay extra to principal on loans to pay off debt

If you have an auto loan or mortgage, pay a little extra each month toward the principal. (You should note on your payment that the additional is a principal payment). Pay what you can afford, even if it’s only $5. Doing this will help your bottom line and your credit!

7. Show credit control by having unused accounts

It is important to show responsible use of credit. Opening accounts as needed will help you show responsible borrowing activity. This is something that naturally happens over time. Using 18 month financing on furniture, for instance, can show you paid on time and finished out the commitment.

Additionally, those accounts often appear on your credit as paid but not closed. Having numerous accounts available, but not in use, has a positive impact.

8. Keep old cards/accounts active

You can cut up old cards but don’t close the accounts. Account history is a scoring factor. For instance, my first credit card is still active on my account. Although the card has terrible interest and no perks, the history with them on my credit report is a noted factor that helps improve my score.

9. Limit pulling credit reports

There are soft credit inquiries and hard credit inquiries. Both can damage your credit. Anytime an institution wants to run credit they should have your approval to do so.

Requests often accompany opening a new checking account, a new credit card, a furniture or auto loan, etc. Only permit a credit check if it is absolutely needed.

10. Utilize different types of credit

There are personal loans, revolving lines of credit, auto and mortgage loans, etc. Showing you can manage a variety of different loans and financial tools will help to increase your score.

My Credit Wasn’t Always Perfect

About 9 years ago I suffered from less-than-stellar credit, too. The Great Recession led to a lay-off from my job and my husband was working a fraction of his normal hours. Plus we had just had a baby! It was a tough financial time for us and my credit score took a serious hit (600’s).

Wanting to invest in real estate, I needed to get my credit looking good ASAP. I asked lenders what they thought helped improve credit and then took each little nugget of information and started applying it to my credit.

I found it encouraging to think that I was to be given a clean credit slate with a deadline attached. Negative marks typically affect your credit for a maximum of 7 years. If you start to make changes, your score will improve.

The further in the past the credit blemishes get, the less impact they have. I recall seeing the final negative on my credit fall off, and my score jumped WAY up.

It’s been a few years ago, but I think it went up around 100 points! It’s been rewarding to watch my FICO score climb back up to where it had been, and now even further up.

Brush Up on Your Finance Skills

If you want to improve your credit, you may need to first get a better grasp on your finances. The best way to do that is to get a budget in place. I have a number of posts that help with basic budgeting and cover where to find money in your budget.

Having a great credit score is achievable, since I reached it using this advice. I share this in hopes that you’ll feel encouraged if you’re struggling with your credit.

Having good credit really impacts your life. It determines interest rates, the opportunities you are provided, your housing, and sometimes even your job. For that reason, credit is an important long-term game, but you are in control!

By sharing the Top 10 Credit Tips I have personally used, I’m confident you can better your score. Good luck!

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