Improve Your Credit Score

Building a solid credit history takes time. Understanding credit score factors will help you work toward a good credit score.

  • Pay bills on time. Your payment history is 35% of the score calculation. Make more than the minimum payment on credit cards.
  • Limit your debt. The total amount you owe represents 30% of your score. A credit card balance that is greater than 50% of your card's credit limit will reduce your score. Having borrowing capacity is important for a good score.
  • Build a solid history. The longer your history of responsible credit use, the better your score. The average age of your accounts affects 15% of your score. If you're closing credit card accounts, keep the card with the longest history.
  • Limit your credit applications. New credit represents 10% of your score. Opening several new accounts during the past 12 to 18 months reduces your score, especially if you don't have a long credit history. However, auto and mortgage loan requests that occur within a very short period of time are considered one inquiry. It is understood that you may be shopping for the best loan.
  • Use a variety of credit types. A major credit card, a gas card, a line of credit, and an installment loan (such as a car loan) are all different types of credit. Using more than one type demonstrates your ability to handle various types of payment options. This affects 10% of your score.
  • Dispute mistakes. Review your credit report annually to ensure they're accurate. Order free reports from each of the three agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com.

What is NOT factored into your credit report: Race, religion, where you live, number of children, college education, or debt to income ratio.

To learn more, try our free interactive Credit Management Coach.