Request your free annual credit report.
Federal law allows every adult in the U.S. to get a free copy of their credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax) every 12 months. All it takes is a few moments, and you can do it all from one handy website right here. Once you get your free reports, go through them carefully to look for any errors. If you find any, contact the credit bureau immediately and initiate a dispute. You can do it online or by mail.
Pay down your credit card balances.
For the biggest boost in your credit score, aim to keep your balances on each card below 10% of your credit limit. No extra cash to pay it down? Try lowering your interest rate (see the next tip).
Consolidate your debt to pay it off faster.
Often, applying for a personal loan to pay off higher-interest credit card loans can be a really good idea. After all, lower interest means more affordable payments. Plus, eliminating your credit card balances offers two more score-boosting benefits: You improve your utilization rate (the amount of money you owe on your cards) and you demonstrate you're capable of handling a mix of different types of credit (credit bureaus like that). Just be sure you don't start racking up new debt on your cards once you've paid them off with your loan.
Don't cancel old cards.
Part of your credit score depends on how long you've had credit, so it's a good idea to keep current credit cards open.
Be sure to pay on time – all the time.
Next to having a bill go to collections, late payments are the top way to lose points on your credit score. If you can, set up automatic payments for at least the minimum amount due so you won't forget.
If you have really bad credit – or no credit – consider a secured credit card that uses a deposit of your own money to establish a credit line.
They report to the credit bureaus just like an unsecured (“traditional”) credit card, but because your credit limit is secured by your own cash, you don't need to have good credit to qualify for a card.
Oklahoma Central Credit Union is committed to helping its members achieve financial security and peace of mind. To find out about secured cards, personal loans or other products that can help you improve your financial future, give us a call at 918-664-6000.