University of Illinois Extension

Know Your Credit Score

How Do You Improve Your Credit Score?

  1. Know your score in order to know where you stand. The three-digit number is the key to your borrowing power.
  2. Check your credit report for accuracy and contact the creditor and credit reporting agency to correct any errors.
  3. Review your credit report annually. If you plan to purchase a major item, check your report at least six months prior to the purchase to guard against errors and identity theft.
  4. Pay your bills on time. If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.
  5. Keep balances low on credit cards, below 35 percent of the limit.
  6. Pay off debt rather than moving it between credit cards.
  7. Apply for and open new credit accounts only when needed.
  8. If you are looking for a loan, do your interest rate shopping within a specific period of time to avoid too many inquiries.For example, if you are buying a car and go to four dealerships in a two-week period, it counts as one inquiry instead of four inquiries.

For more information about credit, see other Credit Card Smarts fact sheets. Related fact sheets are "Build a New Credit Record" and "Check Your Credit Report."

Written by Patricia Hildebrand and Susan Taylor, Consumer and Family Economics Educators, University of Illinois Extension, 2009.

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