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How to Repair Your Credit and Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a 3-digit number between 300 and 850, generated by a mathematical algorithm (a mostly secret formula) based on information in your credit report, as compared to information on tens of millions of other people. The resulting number is said to be a highly accurate prediction of how likely you are to pay your bills.

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If it sounds boring and unimportant, you couldn’t be more wrong. Credit scores are used extensively these days. If you rent an apartment, get braces, buy cell phone service, apply for a job or call to get utilities connected, there’s a good chance your report and score will be pulled.

If you have an existing credit card, the issuer is likely to look at your credit score to decide whether to decrease your credit limit or charge you a higher interest rate. The higher the number, the better you look to lenders. People with the highest scores get the lowest interest rates. And, we hear, they’re getting the jobs.

Know your score

We know we can get our credit reports free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Now we can get our credit scores for FREE, too. Check your credit scores anytime, anywhere and never pay for it at CreditKarma.com. You will need to create a simple, password protected account. No credit card required.

Here are the ways to improve our credit scores:

Pay your bills on time

Making your credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit scores. Delinquent payments have a major negative impact on your credit score. If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score. Be aware, however, that paying off a collection account or bringing an account current will not remove it from your credit report.

Keep balances low on “revolving credit”

Using more than 30 percent of your available credit on your credit cards brings down your credit score. This applies to individual accounts and when you add up all of your available credit and compare it to how much you are using at any given day during the billing cycle. This is easier said than done, but reducing the amount that you owe is going to be a far more satisfying achievement than improving your credit score. The first thing you need to do is stop using your credit cards.

RELATED: How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

Pay off debt rather than moving it around

The most effective way to improve your credit score is by paying down your revolving credit. Getting your balances down to $0 will send your score soaring.

Don’t close unused credit cards

Closing accounts might sound like a great short-term strategy to raise your score, but it’s not. This will close the gap between your outstanding debt (the amount of credit you are using) and the total amount available. Instead, use a clear strategy to close accounts, but only as it will not impact the gap between what you owe and the amount of credit available.

Don’t open new accounts

More credit might seem wise in order to increase your available credit ratio, but it will be seen as a negative to your score. New or “young,” accounts are not useful in credit scoring because they dilute your average account age. Unless it’s a dire emergency, do not open new credit accounts.

Work on longevity

Make sure you maintain your oldest accounts. A great deal of weight is given to longevity, so the oldest account you have is the most valuable.

Stick with it

As with a lot of things in life, time is the best “healer.” Do the right thing by managing your finances responsibly and your credit score will take care of itself.

Get help!

If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or see a legitimate credit counselor. This won’t rebuild your credit score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should increase over time. And seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your credit scores. But beware. There are lots of shysters out there masquerading as negotiators, settlers and credit counselors.

NFCC

You can find a legitimate, certified credit counselor at NFCC.org. The National Federation for Credit Counselors is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well being.

Go to NFCC.org to get immediate help online, or call 800 338-2227 right now to be connected with a counselor near you. NFCC offers credit/debt counseling, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, reverse mortgage counseling, student loan debt counseling and debt management plans.

NFCC is legit. In fact, NFCC is the only credit counseling organization I recommend and endorse. They’ve been around for many years and have earned the highest reputation. NFCC is a wonderful organization you can trust that has come to the rescue of thousands of my readers over the years. They’re ready to help you, too!

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7 replies
  1. Judith Redwine says:

    I went to Credit Karma for my score. I searched the website to see what was offered. When I clicked on the credit card offers I was stunned to see the amount of interest that can be charged on these cards. Of course, I don’t want to carry a balance anyway, but these offers remind me of why I avoid debt. Not today, or any other day!!

    Reply
  2. Ellie Davis says:

    I liked that you mentioned the longer you pay your bills on time, the better your credit score will be. My brother just got off college, and he is looking for advice to start living by himself. I will let him know about the benefits of paying his bills on time to help his credit score. https://www.totalcreditsolutions.net/credit-repair/what-is-credit-repair/

    Reply
  3. Shannon Robbins says:

    ” . . paying off a collection account . . . .will not remove it from your credit report.” Unless you negotiate that as part of the deal. I did that successfully years ago with medical bills that were written off. I got them to agree to remove it from my report in return for full repayment. I had to call back and remind them of the agreement for each account but they removed each one.

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Smart move, Shannon. However this is unique and unusual, especially for paid-off credit card accounts. But it never hurts to ask!

      Reply
  4. Kitty Thompson says:

    Hi Mary. Sometimes having everything paid off backfires! We downsized houses, paid off our mortgage and paid cash for our new home. I pay our credit card balances each month in total, and yesterday I received a notice that my credit score went from 830 to 817 because we weren’t using credit! Bah – humbug!

    Reply
    • Kate says:

      As a former banker, I can tell you that a score over 800 is stellar. Your exact score can change almost daily. Aim to stay above 780 and you’ll qualify for the lowest possible rates if you do need to borrow in the future.

      Reply
  5. tiannah mills says:

    The team at Master Credit is out of this world! Their customer service was impeccable and they were very helpful with everything that was going on through every step of the process. They looked into my case thoroughly and contacted every institution to wipe the inquiries I had been accumulating for months on my credit reports. Their professional work was everything I had hoped for. ([email protected])

    Reply

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