Protect your credit score! Whether you are a high tech smartphone addict or barely use email, here are some everyday tips that you can put in place. These routine practices will boost your credit score to the top of the charts:
1: Make sure your credit report is accurate. If your credit score is being calculated from incorrect information, it may be suffering greatly. It’s estimated that 25% of credit reports contain some sort of error.
High tech way: You may request a copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com once every 12 months free of charge. This website is provided by the 3 main credit bureaus. Reviewing your credit report is a great way to catch any mistakes BEFORE they damage your credit.
Low tech way: You may request your credit report by phone or by mail. By phone: call 1-877-322-8228 and you will go through a simple verification process. Your report will then be mailed to you within 2 -3 weeks. By mail: download and complete the Request Form (available on the website) and mail it to
Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Your report will be delivered in 2-3 weeks
2: Pay your bills on time. Payment history is 35% of your credit score, so paying your bills on time needs to be a top priority.
High tech way: Techies have many options of apps that can be used to track spending and bill pay. www.mint.com and www.pageonce.com are 2 of the many apps that can set up all of your bills in one place. These apps remind you when bills are due, track spending, etc.
Another way to make sure you don’t miss any payments is to set up automatic payments from your online banking to your mortgage, auto, and credit card providers. This will ensure that you don’t rack up any late pays, which can tank your credit score.
Low tech way: If you are still walking to the mailbox to get your bills, put this practice in place; pay your bills the day they arrive. This may sound a little hard core, however, paying them when you receive them has its benefits. The bill won’t get a chance to lose itself in the pile on your desk, AND you don’t have to think about it anymore.
Another low tech option is to have a desk calendar that has all of your monthly bills marked on the date they need to be mailed (not the date they are due). Put the calendar in a place where you can see it every day, so the due date doesn’t sneak by you.
3: Keep your credit card balance low: Behind paying bills on time, account balances are the most important factor in your credit score (30%). Running up those credit card balances close to the limit has a dramatically negative impact on your credit score. Don’t let this happen to you!
High tech way; as mentioned in #1, there are many apps that can help you track you spending and budget. By following a budget, you can see where your money goes, and plan for bigger expenses (new furniture, vacations, etc) without charging up your plastic.
Low tech way: get a pencil and paper and make a budget. Track you spending to make sure that you know where your money is going. Open all of your credit card statements the day they arrive, and try your best to pay off your balances every month.
High tech and Low tech tip: While using credit cards responsibly DOES help raise your score, it’s a good all-round financial practice to make sure you are not racking up useless debt.
If you do end up using your credit cards and can’t pay the balance off every month, MAKE SURE you do not charge up more than 30% of your limit (ex: on a credit card with a $10,000 limit, never charge more than $3,000). Keeping your balances low will go a long way toward boosting your credit score.
4: Don’t close, lose, or ignore those old credit cards. Length of credit history is 15% of your credit score. The optimum credit history is 30 years long! Work hard to make sure those old credit cards are doing their job to raise your score.
Remember, credit cards must be used once every 6 months to be included in your credit score.
High tech way: set up one of your bills to automatically charge to your oldest credit card. It does not matter how small the amount. Any new balance will update that credit card at the credit bureaus so that all that great long credit history is showing up on your credit report.
Low tech way: carry your oldest credit card in your wallet and be sure to use it once a month to buy either gas or groceries. This purchase will keep your card active and counting positively in your credit report. Pay it off at the end of the month so you are not hit with any finance charges.
Putting some or all of these tips into place can go a long way toward maximizing your credit score and ensuring the best rates on your mortgage, car, and credit card loans. And, whether we are high tech or low tech, this should sound good to all of us.