Even if your credit score has taken a hit, a few key moves can help bring it back — and help you get better rates on a mortgage, credit cards, car loans, and even your car insurance.
Check your credit report. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get a free report from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) every 12 months. Fixing any errors can boost your score quickly.
Pay your bills on time. If you have trouble paying the full balance, at least pay the minimum before the deadline. About one-third of your credit score is based on your payment history. Paying on time affects your score more than the amount you pay.
Keep your balances low. Lenders get worried if it looks like you're maxing out your cards. Charge less than 25 percent of the credit limit (10 percent is even better), whether or not you pay off the full balance every month.
Don't close old accounts. Keeping old accounts helps because the age of your cards is a key element of your score. Closing accounts also lowers your overall credit limits, which makes it look like you're closer to maxing out your available credit.
Pay off old debts. A library fine or disputed electric bill can have a big impact on your credit score if the debt goes into collection. Don't lose track of small charges that can come back to haunt you.