Improving your credit score is not as difficult as you may think. First things first – you need to see exactly where you are at with your credit score.

If you don’t know where you are, you can’t get to where you want to be with improving your credit rating. Once you know your FICO score, you can create a plan to improve your credit score more easily.

1. Check Your FICO Score with a Tri-Merge Credit Report

Once a year, request a score from the top three bureaus – Experian®, Equifax®, and TransUnion®. Here’s a brief rundown of FICO Credit Score ranges (estimated – will vary between companies):

300-550 Poor May be rejected, or only accepted for very high interest rates
551-650 Average Qualify for high interest rates
651-710 Good Qualify for moderate rates
711-750 Very Good Qualify for very competitive rates
751 and up Excellent Lowest interest rates

2. Pay Your Bills on Time Every Time

This is probably the most important thing you can do to improve a credit score. Not doing this severely impacts your credit score. If you haven’t been keeping up with your payments, it’s likely that your credit score has dropped substantially.

3. Actively Use One or Two of Your Best Cards

If you are have a low credit score and are having debt problems, this will require a great deal of willpower to change your habits.  Don’t spend anymore on those additional cards.  And if the cards that you are actively using are reaching their limits, that means one thing – you need to spend less and budget your money better – and starting paying in cash.  This will be temporary until you can get out your bad spending habits.

4. Don’t Push Your Cards to Their Credit Limits

If you are having an issue maxing out a particular card with a lower limit, try to spread your spending out across another card. It’s better to keep the utilization down on each card to help improve your credit rating.  Shoot for 25%-30% or lower with your utilization rate, even if you are consistently paying them off in full every month.

5. Reduce Your Credit Card Balances

The more you can pay down those balances, the less interest will accrue for your debt management issues and the lower your credit utilization will be. As stated above, lower utilization should help increase your credit score quickly.

Managing your financial future is as important as anything else. Make sure to stay on top of it.