As much as I hate to admit it, your credit score is actually a very important number to watch through life. Even if you pay for everything with cash (like I hope you are), your credit score is used by various agencies to evaluate your trustworthiness. If your score is low, they assume that you are irresponsible and failing to pay your bills. The key is to make sure you keep an eye on your credit score and raise it in whatever way you can.
Find Your Score
Did you know that there’s a site out there that will provide your credit score for free? Granted, it only provides the TransUnion Credit Score, but it still gives you a good idea where your overall credit limit stands. To get your score, just head to CreditKarma.com, create a log-in and it will spit out your credit score, along with many helpful details about how you can improve it!
**By the way, I wasn’t paid to mention the CreditKarma site. I just love it as a resource!
Areas to Improve Your Score
Credit Card Utilization
How much money do you charge on your credit card each month? To be in good standing with the credit rating companies, it’s ideal if you keep your charges below 20% (and above 1%) of your maximum credit limit. I did a really bad job at this the other month and my score definitely suffered. I love getting reward points, so I figured that instead of paying my college courses with my debit card, that I would use my credit card first for the points. So, I charged $2,850 on my credit card that had a $3,000 limit. Bad idea. I am still recovering from this move today.
Also, be sure to pay off your credit cards each month. As I understand it, you will actually earn a higher score if you pay off your balance each month than if you don’t.
Related: Top Rewards Credit Cards!
Do you make your payments on time? This is also quite important for keeping your credit score up. I do a pretty good job at this since most of my bills have automatic payment set up.
Age of Credit History
If you have a credit card open that you’ve had open for as long as you can remember, don’t close it. Your oldest credit card actually plays into your credit score. My oldest card is three years old… this gave me a D on my credit report. Not good.
How many credit lines do you have open? Over the years, I have had eight lines open, but this actually isn’t enough! In order to get an “A” rating, you have to have more than 22 lines open! I’m certainly not saying that you should finance everything under the sun, but maybe those TJ Maxx and Kohl’s credit cards aren’t so bad. Keep those lines open and you will see your credit score rise.
The more hard inquiries you have on your credit score, the lower your score will be. Don’t worry by the way, the CreditKarma.com lookup doesn’t count against your score. It’s a soft inquiry. If you have zero hard inquiries in the last six months, your score will likely be an “A”.
These are accounts in collections, liens, bankruptcies, and civil judgments. These have a high impact on your credit score, and they are terribly difficult to get rid of. Quite often, it can take 7 to 15 years to be cleared of these marks! Avoid them at all costs if you want to have a good credit score.
Just by paying attention to this site for a couple of months, I have raised my score by 32 points! Good luck to you and your credit score!
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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.