Home > Credit Score > 5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score in 2015

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The new year is a time for resolutions, new beginnings and (hopefully) a higher credit score. It may be the last thing you are thinking about this holiday season, but your credit score can affect your mortgage, your job potential and, ultimately, your life. So, now is the time to start thinking about, monitoring and improving it. Make 2015 the year you improve your credit score with these five tips.

1. Check Your Current Reports & Scores

Before you try to improve your credit profile, find out where you stand. (You can get two of your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.) It’s also smart to check your credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies. (You can get these for free once a year under federal law .) The information used to calculate your credit scores comes from these credit reports, so it is important to be sure they are accurate. If you see information that is not accurate, dispute it.

2. Reduce Your Debt

Your debt-to-credit ratio is a major factor in your credit score — the smaller the percentage, the better. It’s best to go no higher than 20% to 25%. So if your debt is higher than that, make it your goal for the new year to lower it. Look for ways to reduce your monthly spending or up your monthly income so you can put more money toward your debts. Total up your debts and get a pay-down plan in place that you can comfortably keep up with. As your balances decrease, your score should rise.

3. Raise Your Limits

Credit agencies look at individual card limits as well as your overall level of credit. You can contact your credit card issuer about increasing your limit. Boosting your limits can reduce your debt usage ratio. It’s important to be sure you do not use the new, higher limit as an excuse to start spending more.

4. Pay on Time

Paying your monthly bills on time can help improve your credit score. If you have trouble with this, set up reminders or work with your bank to establish an automatic bill payment system. Your payment track record accounts for approximately 35% of the score so consistently paying on time can make a difference.

5. Consider Keeping Old Cards Open

Canceling a credit card you have had for a long time can potentially hurt your credit scores. If it’s a card you no longer use much, you might want to keep it active by using it for a recurring charge like a utility or cable. In a similar vein, it’s a good idea to only apply and open new credit cards as needed.

In truth, the best way to improve your credit score is by being a smart and careful consumer — be on the lookout for ways you could sink your score and avoid them. Make payments on time, understand credit information, check your credit reports regularly, and do your best to pay off debt and keep your balances low.

More on Credit Reports & Credit Scores:

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  • Dale Orthner Attorney at Law

    These seem like great ways to start the year off right! Credit score can really take a turn for the worse if not careful. It’s always best to discuss plans with your legal representative as well.

  • Nicole

    I actually work in customer service for a major credit card company and I just want to make a comment on this article. The article states:

    “Call them up and get an agent on the phone. Once you’re talking to someone, tell them how good of a customer you’ve been, how you’ve always made your payments on time, and how you’ve enjoyed using the card. After this initial framework, tell them that you’d like to request a credit limit increase.”

    This is actually pointless and can make the call kind of awkward. The representative really has nothing to do with whether your credit line increase is approved or denied. This is actually all automated. The representative enters your financail information into the computer and the computer is either A. Automatically approve you or B. Send you a letter of “Adverse Action” telling you were denied and give you the reason.

    Really this is how most things are done at credit card companies. Including being approved for a credit card, credit line increases, and even fee reversals (such as late fees-based on previous fee reversals and how profitable the account is).

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