Having a good credit score can make your life easier. You could qualify for loans with better interest rates, rent a house or apartment, and get service from telephone and utility companies. On the other hand, having a bad credit score can make getting all of this much harder.

So what should you do if you want to improve or maintain a good credit score? The following tips might help.

1) Request a free credit report

You can request a free copy of your report every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The official website to get your free credit report is www.annualcreditreport.com.

2) Understand Your Credit Report

Understanding your credit report will help you make better decisions when it comes to your finances, because your credit score is based on your credit report. It includes personal information about you such as:

  • Your payment history.
  • How many loans you have and how much you owe.
  • If you have ever filed for bankruptcy.

3) Check Your Credit Report

Sometimes information on your credit report might be incorrect or incomplete. That's why you should check it periodically.

If you do find a mistake, these agencies must:

  • Investigate the discrepancy usually within 30 days and correct it if necessary.
  • Notify the company that provided the incorrect information.
  • Provide you with a free copy of your credit report if changes are made.

The Federal Trade Commission has more detailed information on how to access free credit reports.

4) Pay Your Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time is an important factor in determining your credit score and showing your creditors that you are a responsible consumer. But there are other factors that might impact your credit score:

  • Be selective when you apply for credit as too many applications may negatively affect your score.
  • Don't go over your credit limits. In fact, it is better to stay well below them.
  • Pay down your debt with regular payments.

5) Get Professional Help

A budget might help you pay your bills on time. If you owe too much or are unable to pay your bills, you might want to consider a credit counseling agency. They can help you to manage your finances or figure out a plan to pay off your debt.

Be careful when seeking out these services, they might charge excessive fees and that can put you deeper in debt. The Federal Trade Commission has more information about credit counseling agencies and how they can help you improve your credit score.

USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov are the U.S. Government’s official web portals in English and Spanish, and part of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

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