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Four Simple Steps to Improve Your Credit Score

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Content provided courtesy of USAA.

FICO score, VantageScore, BlahBlahBlah score.

You may already know that credit scores come in many different forms and flavors. And you've probably heard that having a good score is important.

But did you know there are some surefire moves to getting a good score or improving one regardless of the scoring model being used?

Four ways to build a better credit score:

  • Be in the game. To improve your credit score, first you must actually have credit. This typically starts with getting a credit card or a loan from an institution that reports to the credit bureaus. For credit newbies, a secured card might be a good way to get in the game.
  • Be on time. Your credit score is designed to inform potential lenders how risky it might be to lend you money. Will you pay them back or just take the money and run? So you'll want your payment history to be impeccable, no matter which scoring model is being used. Never, ever be late with your payments. Better yet, pay early.
  • Be debt-averse. You can demonstrate creditworthiness by demonstrating restraint. Backward though it may seem, if you use too much of the credit extended to you at any point in time, you will hurt your score. So don't carry balances on credit cards or lines of credit, and if you do, keep the balance to less than 20% of what's available. You have to be in the game, but not all-in.
  • Be patient. Credit history includes the word history for a reason. Potential lenders want to know that you'll be a good borrower in good times and bad, and building or rebuilding that image of reliability takes time. Who cares if you're a good borrower for a month? But a few years or a decade? That's a bigger deal.

If you'd like the nitty-gritty details on how credit scoring works, please check out the information on myFICO.com and your.VantageScore.com. But if details aren't your thing, these tips should get you started.

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Contributor

USAA, a diversified financial services organization, is the leading provider of competitively priced financial planning, insurance, investments, and banking products to members of the U.S. military and their eligible families. Rated among the highest among financial services companies for customer advocacy in a Forrester Research survey, USAA provides convenient and accessible financial products to its more than 9 million members. For more information about USAA, or to learn more about membership, visit usaa.com
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