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3 Tips For Building Credit

Increasing your credit score doesn’t require blood, sweat, and tears—just patience and good behavior.

Whether you’re thinking about purchasing a home, shopping around for the best credit card rate, or simply taking a proactive approach to your financial health, you might wonder how to increase your credit score. The good news is that you can add points to your score with just a little patience and persistence.

Check your credit report for errors

Some research suggests that as many as 20% of consumers have mistakes on their credit reports. Unfortunately, these mistakes often lead to lower scores and higher interest rates. To ensure that your report contains accurate information, you should review it on a regular basis. The website offers free reports every 12 months from each of the three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. (Don’t get this website confused with one you might have seen advertised on TV; while that website requires credit card information so you can be billed after a brief trial period, does not ask for credit card information and is legitimately free.) Consider requesting a credit report from a different agency each quarter so you’re able to use the website’s services on an ongoing basis (i.e. request your Equifax report every April, your Experian report every August, and your TransUnion report every December). Regularly reviewing your credit reports helps you identify—and rectify—errors quickly.

Pay bills on time, every time

Did you know that late payments can remain on your credit report for SEVEN years? That might seem like an excessively long period of time to pay for a mistake but, as creditors see it, sometimes the best predictor of future action is past behavior. If you don’t have any late payments on your credit report, keep it that way! Schedule payments ahead of their due dates using Bill Pay and rest easy knowing your bills are taken care of and that your credit score won’t be affected by late payments.

Build credit with a secured credit card

If you have no credit or poor credit, one of the best ways to improve your score is by opening a Secured Visa credit card. A secured credit card reduces your risk in the eyes of the creditor because you’re using a secured savings account as collateral. For instance, if you have a Secured Visa with a credit limit of $500, you’ll be required to keep $500 in savings. (Please note that this card carries a $25 annual fee.) Continually borrowing against your own savings account and—this is very important!—paying the bill on time each and every month can help you establish positive credit history and potentially increase your score.