5 On Your Side

Tips to improve your credit score

Posted February 23

Credit is a serious issue for everyone because it affects nearly every part of our lives.

Your credit score affects credit card and loan approvals, car and home insurance, interest rates, the amount of rental and utility deposits, and it could even affect your job hunt. Unless you have loads of cash, you need a credit history. Even millennials, who are trending away from the use of credit cards, will eventually need credit to buy a home or car.

Experts say car purchasers with a low credit score can pay up to $5,000 more than those with an excellent score.

WRAL's 5 On Your Side has some ways to improve your credit score:

–Check your credit report. Make sure errors, like with your name or previous addresses, aren't bringing down your score. You can get a free copy of your report each year from three major credit companies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. It's a good idea to stagger them by pulling one every four months.

–Don't apply for multiple credit cards at once. It can hurt your score. This is different than applying for a mortgage, auto loan or student loan.

–Have different types of credit. Successfully paying an auto loan, student loan and credit card bills over the same period of time shows you're able to juggle it all.

–Don't cancel unused cards unless there's an annual fee. A key factor of your credit score is how much credit you use compared to how much credit you have.

–It's best to pay off credit balances. Otherwise, keep credit balances at less than 10 percent of your total available credit. A higher ratio suggests you're an elevated credit risk.

Always make payments on time, even if it's the minimum payment. Missing even one can have an immediate and negative effect on your score.

The most widely used score is FICO, created by the Fair Isaac Corp. The score typically ranges from 300 to 850. A good score is usually in the high 600s or higher.

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  • William Patterson Feb 23, 2017
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    the FICO score is bogus....I had never been late with a payment of any type EVER for 50 years ...i received horrendous care at an emergency room and was falsely diagnosed which resulted in much expense and pain and refused to pay the outrageous bill....this resulted in my score going from the 800's to the low 600's and in no way reflects my credit worthiness