Your personal credit score affects how much credit you can get, the type of credit and the interest rate. The higher your credit score, the more confident you can be when you need to apply for credit. Checking your credit score regularly is important. This measure will indicate where improvements are needed and will help you raise your score. You can raise your credit score to 800 over a period of time by following certain guidelines.
Obtain your credit score from MyFICO. This will provide a starting point to help raise your credit score. The FICO (Fair Isaacs Corp.) score is the one most lenders use to assess your suitability for credit. It compiles data from the three main credit reference agencies: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Click the link in the resources section. You will find three options: check it, compare it and track it. The cost varies for each option. Make your choice and click "buy now" then create your account and complete the application form. Click "continue" to view the customer agreement form. Follow the instructions and enter your payment details. Your identity will be verified and login details will be given. Create a password and your credit score will be available.
Carefully check your credit score. Understand how your score is calculated as this will assist you in ways to raise your credit score. (See resources.) Correct any errors by contacting the lender and the credit reference agency. This will raise your credit score. (The link is in the resources section.) Check areas where your score is lowest. It may be that you have not used a card for some time and so it is considered inactive. Using a credit card wisely and regularly increases your score.
Apply for credit only when you need it. Too many applications reduce your credit score. A maximum of two or three applications a year is best. Maintain a maximum of four or five credit cards. More can negatively affect your credit score but having only one will keep your credit score low. Use your cards regularly and maintain a balance of less than 40 percent of your credit limit.
Make sure all bills and credit card payments are made by the due date. You will need to have at least six to seven years of up-to-date payments to raise your credit score above the average of 600. Maintain a credit balance in your checking account.
Maintain credit over many years; 20 years or more is best. This will show that you are responsible and can be trusted with credit and will assist in raising your credit score, over time, to 800.
- Monitor your credit card statements regularly. Balance the use of cards. If one card has a balance of 10 percent and another 90 percent, the beneficial effects of the card with a 10 percent balance will be lost. Stop using it until the percentage owed drops considerably.
- Obtain your credit score only from the link in the resources section or one of the three main credit reference agencies. Many websites suggest you can obtain your credit score for free. In fact, you cannot unless you are applying for a home loan. Moreover, providing personal details to an unofficial website may make you the target of identity theft.
Stephen Benham has been writing since 1999. His current articles appear on various websites. Benham has worked as an insurance research writer for Axco Services, producing reports in many countries. He has been an underwriting member at Lloyd's of London and a director of three companies. Benham has a diploma in business studies from South Essex College, U.K.