According to the money experts at Bankrate, one major factor in your credit score is how much revolving credit you have versus how much you’re using. The smaller that percentage is, the better it is for your credit rating. According to Bankrate, ideally you want 30 percent or lower. Pay down your balances, and keep them down. If you have multiple credit card balances, consolidating them with a personal loan could boost your score.
Bankrate strategy: See if the credit card issuer will accept multiple payments throughout the month.
Eliminate credit card balances
Easier said than done, right? A good start is to eliminate nuisance balances, those are the small balances you have on a number of credit cards. According to Bankrate: One of the items your score considers is how many of your cards have balances. So carrying two small balances on two cards can be worse than carrying them both on one.
Bankrate strategy: Pay off the small balances and select one or two go-to cards that you can use for everything.
Leave old debt on your report
Old debt on your credit report is not a bad thing. Some people try to get it removed for their report once it's paid off. Negative items are obviously bad for your credit score, but usually disappear from your report after seven years. According to Bankrate, good debt, debt that you’ve handled well and paid as agreed, is good for your credit. The longer your history of good debt is, the better it is for your score.
Bankrate strategy: Leave old debt and good accounts on as long as possible.
Use your calendar
Do your rate shopping within a short time period. Every time you apply for credit, it can cause a small dip in your credit score that lasts a year. That’s because if someone is making multiple applications for credit, it usually means he or she wants to use more credit, according to Bankrate. However with mortgage, auto and student loans, scoring formulas allow for the fact that you’ll make multiple applications but take out only one loan.
Pay bills on time
Maybe you want to make major purchase. Don’t start paying bills late. A drop in your score could affect the rate for that big purchase. Simply put, make sure your credit report shows month after month on-time payments. Even if you don't think the creditor will report you, they may turn your bill over to a collections agency and they could report you to the bureaus.
Bankrate strategy: Putting cash into a savings account for a major purchase is smart. Just don’t slight the regular bills to do it.
Don’t hint at risk
Two things to keep in mind: Don't miss payments and don't suddenly start paying less (or charging more) than you normally do, says Dave Jones, retired president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.
There are some other red flags that could scare your card issuer (but not necessarily hurt your credit score) according to Bankrate: taking cash advances or even using your cards at businesses that could indicate current or future money stress, like a pawnshop or a divorce attorney.
Pay close attention when you're making a big purchase like a house or car. In the meantme, pay your bills on time and use credit responsibly. According to Bankrate, you should be able to get a good idea about where you stand with the score your bank or credit card provides. Though it may not be the exact same one your lender uses, it will grade you on many of the same criteria. Another smart move is to regularly check your credit reports.
Bankrate strategy: Stagger them your credit report inquiries. Send for one every four months, and you can monitor your credit for free.