Article | 3:08 min read

How to Stay Atop Your Credit Score

Credit and Debt

A laptop with the words credit score showing

Performing or paying for routine maintenance on a car is a good practice for those trying to keep their automobile running for as long as possible. The same is true for a home inspection or a trip to the doctor's office: It's best to be informed and stay ahead of the ball when it comes to important decisions in your life.

But what about checking your credit score? That three-digit number is as vital to your loan chances as any other determining factor, yet most people don't take the time to review their credit reports and history.

Consumers should check their credit report periodically to make sure their credit score accurately represents their history, according to Daily Finance [1]. You wouldn't go without getting any oil change on your automobile, so don't forego checking your credit report. It won't seem like a big deal until it finally is, whether that means struggling to acquire mortgage loans or having an engine fail while on the highway.

It's important to stay on top of credit history because scores can change faster than one might think, John Ulzheimer, a credit scoring expert who has worked for FICO, Equifax and, told Daily Finance.

"Good credit can become bad credit in as little as a month," he said. "There are too many under-the-radar factors that can influence your score to just assume you'll sail through the years with great credit."

How to keep up with your credit
Getting a copy of your credit report and staying up with your score is the first step to keeping a good credit number, according to Experian, a global information group and credit scoring agency [2].

It's best to have some credit but not to stretch yourself too thin, Experian reported. Credit history shows lenders how you're able to manage your debts, which can go a long way toward a lender accepting or denying your loan. Those who don't have a credit history might find it difficult to land a loan, because lenders won't have any background information to work with, which might make you seem like a risk.

A few active credit accounts will work just fine in helping lenders see how well you handle your credit, Experian reported.

"Too many people don't know about all of the components that go into their score," Mary Beth Storjohann, a certified financial planner told Daily Finance. "When you're not educated about this, it's more likely that you'll make a mistake without even realizing it."

It's best to have one or two credit cards for most expenditures, Bankrate reported [3]. While some people think it's best to have multiple cards with small balances, this can actually hurt your credit score. Consumers should instead pay off all their small balances and use one or two cards for most purchases.

It's also a smart choice to not close any credit accounts where you've built a strong repayment record. This shows lenders you've been able to pay off your debts, which make you look like a safer bet when trying to land a loan.

Keeping up with credit can limit identity threats
Keeping up with your credit score also has other benefits, according to Ulzheimer.

"That's where the three big signs of identity theft will show up: an address where you've never lived, a new credit inquiry you didn't make and a new account that doesn't belong to you," Ulzheimer said.

That's why it's important to take a look at your credit history every so often. You'll be able to spot any potential inaccuracies or faults that might pertain to the current balance of your mortgage.


[1]. 6 Credit Mistakes Even Those With Stellar Scores Can Make

[2]. 10 Tips to Live Credit Smart

[3]. 7 simple ways to improve your credit score

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