If you have good credit, it’s something to be happy about. Of course, there’s always room for improvement.
In a recent Credit.com survey, most respondents said they felt a sense of pride the last time they saw one of their credit scores, but they’re also interested in improving. (It was a survey of 2,206 U.S. adults. using Survey Monkey Audience, between April 25 to 27.)
Going from good to great can be a challenge, but if you’re trying to get to another level of creditworthiness, there are a few things you can consider doing.
Cover the Basics
Even though you have a good credit score, you should make sure you’ve got the fundamentals of good credit down. Credit scores are driven by five main factors: if you make loan and credit card payments on time, how much of your available credit you use (credit utilization rate), the average age of your accounts, account mix and how often you apply for credit (inquiries). You can see how well you rank in these areas by getting two of your credit scores for free with a Credit.com account .
You can get a good credit score by consistently paying your bills on time, but if you’re using more than 30% of your available credit, that could be something to focus on. If your credit history is limited to installment loans (like a car loan or student loan), you may want to consider opening a credit card to use for occasional expenses and pay off every month. The revolving credit will add diversity to your credit profile, which will help you in the account mix category.
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Consider Your Options
Other than practicing good habits like keeping your debt use low and making consistent payments, there are a few other strategies you can try.
Becoming an authorized user on someone’s credit cards is one of the easiest ways to add a trade line to your credit report, and it doesn’t result in an inquiry. Be careful — whether you’re asking or being asked to do the authorized user thing, you have to realize the gravity of tying your credit standing to someone else’s behavior. The primary account holder will be most affected by this arrangement, so it’s not something someone will (or should) agree to without carefully considering the potential consequences.
As an authorized user, you’ll get credit for the higher credit limit (as well as the balance that comes with that account), which could
help your utilization rate. If the accountholder has had the card for a long time, it could improve your credit age.
If you have balances on your credit cards, consider consolidating the debt.
“A lot of times consolidating those credit cards with a personal loan can help, because it’s no longer part of your debt use,” said Gerri Detweiler, Credit.com’s director of consumer education.
Most credit experts (Detweiler included) wouldn’t recommend taking on debt for credit score purposes, because account mix isn’t a huge part of your credit score. At the same time, some opportunities are worth it.
“See if you qualify for 0% financing on your next car,” Detweiler said. “If you do, you just take the loan and pay it off as quickly or as slowly as you want to.”
Credit scoring isn’t a game of quick fixes, so sometimes the best thing you can do is wait. Sure, that’s not an exciting plan, but for some aspects of your credit history, it’s really the only option. There’s also no use in obsessing over your numbers (like this guy does ), because score fluctuation is normal.
If you had a loan delinquency (or worse) several years ago, it isn’t impacting your credit as much as it did right after it happened, and eventually, negative information ages off your credit report. Meanwhile, abstain from applying for credit unnecessarily, because a lot of hard inquiries on your credit report can chip away at your score. Other than going the authorized user route, there’s really nothing you can do about your credit age: It’s calculated by taking the average age of all your accounts, and those only get older with time.
More on Credit Reports and Credit Scores:
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Christine DiGangi covers personal finance for Credit.com. Previously, she managed communications for the Society of Professional Journalists, served as a copy editor of The New York Times News Service and worked as a reporter for the Oregonian and the News & Record. More by Christine DiGangi
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