If you're planning to apply for a mortgage or other consumer loan in coming months, you'll get more offers and lower interest rates with a solid credit score. Here are some tips for improving your score before you apply:
Carefully read your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies: Equifax and Experian and TransUnion.
Each is legally required to provide one free report per year. You can get yours through http://www.annualcreditreport.com/ .
Check all three reports to make sure personal information such as your Social Security number is correct; every line of credit is actually yours; and payment data is accurate. If you find anything that's incorrect, contact the agency to have it removed. Correcting a mistake that's dragging your score down can make a significant difference.
Make sure all of your loan, credit card and other bill payments are on time. Setting up automatic payments for at least the minimum will ensure that you don't miss future payments.
Pay down your balances. One factor in your score is your utilization ratio, or the amount of available credit you're using. Paying off a substantial portion of your credit card debt may reduce your ratio enough to raise your score and allow you to qualify for a better mortgage rate -- enabling you to possibly save much more than your original debt over the course of your mortgage.
Don't apply for additional credit. Adding a new car loan to your report can temporarily cut 20 points from your score, for instance, so if you're planning on buying a house in the next few months, hold off on seeking any more credit.
Don't close old accounts. Even if you haven't used a credit card in some time, shutting down the account can hurt your score. The length of your credit history factors into in a score, and reducing your available credit will increase your utilization ratio. This information is according to the Daily Herald.