Keep Tabs on Your Credit
You are entitled by law to a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit scoring agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). You can get it here:
Make Sure Your Credit Report is Accurate
So much data goes through these companies that they often make mistakes which can lower your score. If you find errors on your credit report, you can dispute them. Here’s a link that tells you how:
Getting Your Credit Score
The agenices don’t have to give you a credit score for free. Some will give you a peek if you sign up for a “free trial” of their score monitoring services. They’ll charge you if you don’t cancel the account.
One site has started to offer free credit scores from TransUnion in exchange for showing you ads. It’s a great way to get started with understanding and monitoring your score:
Here are the top ways you can raise your score as high as possible:
- Do get some credit to start establishing your score. You don’t have to use it–but the longer you have it, the better your score will be.
- Do keep up with payments. If your debts are sent to a collection agency, it can lower your score.
- Do keep old credit card accounts open–even if you don’t want to use them anymore. Pay off the balances and cut up the cards, but don’t close the accounts. The longer you’ve had the credit, the better it is for your score.
- Don’t open accounts if you don’t need them. Since lenders consider older accounts to be better, lots of new accounts can drag down your score.
- Don’t max out your cards. If you use more than 30% or so of your available credit, it can really reduce your score.
- Don’t apply for cards or loans you don’t need. Too many applications negatively affect your score.
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