The days are longer, flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping. It's spring! Now is the time many of us like to roll up our sleeves and do some spring cleaning. Just as you clean your home, you can also tidy up your finances — including your credit!
If you're ready to freshen up your credit this spring, consider these helpful tips:
Review your free credit report
You can get a free copy of your credit reports every 12 months from each of the three major bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your official reports. These reports will not show you your credit score, but you'll be able to review your credit history for any errors, inaccuracies and signs of identity theft.
Know your credit score
Having a good credit score can make it easier to get a loan, often at a lower interest rate. Your score can even be a deciding factor when you rent an apartment or apply for a new job. Credit scores generally range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better!
It's important to keep a close eye on your credit score, especially if you're thinking about a big financial decision like buying a home. You can purchase your credit score directly from FICO, or your credit card company may offer the number for free.
Give your credit a boost
Has your credit score lowered since the last time you checked it? Don't worry! If your score isn't as high as you'd like it to be, you can always take steps to improve it.
- Make timely bill payments. Consistent, on-time payments will help you build a strong credit history. To avoid late or missed payments, consider setting up automatic transfers from your checking or savings account.
- Keep credit card balances low. Your debt-to-credit-limit ratio is another factor that impacts your credit. If your monthly credit card balance is typically more than 30% of the card's limit, consider pre-paying part of the balance before it's due or asking your credit card issuer to increase your limit.
- Build your credit history. A longer credit history shows lenders you can manage credit over time. Try to avoid closing old accounts to remove them from your record. Holding onto credit cards — even those you don't use — will help establish your history.
- Slow down on opening new accounts. Applying for several new credit accounts in a short period of time can pull down your credit score. You can keep track of your credit inquiries on your credit report, which lists inquiries from the past two years. If possible, try to wait a few months in between credit inquiries.
Looking for more credit tips? Check out our helpful videos, interactive learning modules and upcoming webinars on the basics of credit.