10 Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Credit Score

Bad credit is both stressful and costly, but it's not the end. As hopeless as the situation might seem, bad credit won't last forever. There are things you can do right now to begin improve your credit score.

Get a copy of your credit reports.

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To start working on your credit score, you have to know exactly what you need to work on. Since your credit score is based on the information in your credit report, the first place you should go to improve your credit score is your credit report.

Order copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus to identify the accounts that need work. You can get free copy of your credit reports from each of the major bureaus from AnnualCreditReport.com. More

Dispute a credit report error.

You have the right to an accurate credit report. This right allows you to dispute credit report errors by by writing to the credit bureau or the creditor who listed the account on your credit report.

Don't think that errors are meaningless. Errors can hurt your credit score more than you think. For example, an inaccurately reported late payment could bring your credit score down 60 to 110 points depending on the other information in your credit report. More

Avoid new credit card purchases.

New credit card purchases will raise your credit utilization - the ratio of your credit card balances to their respective credit limits. The higher your balances are, the higher your credit utilization is, and the more your credit score is affected.

Pay cash for purchases instead of putting them on your credit card to minimize the impact to your credit score. Even better, if you can avoid the purchase completely, use that money to reduce your credit card balance. Lowering your balances helps improve your credit score. More

Pay off a past due balance.

Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. The further behind you are on your payments, the more it hurts your credit score. Get caught up on your credit card payments before they are charged-off or sent to a collection agency.

Talk to your credit card issuer about your missed payments. They may be willing to re-age your account so your credit report shows your account has always been paid on time. More

Avoid a new credit card application.

As long as you're in credit repair mode, you should avoid making any new applications for credit since credit inquiries can hurt your credit score. Opening a new credit account also lowers your average credit age, another action that hurts your credit score.  More

Leave accounts open, especially those with balances.

You might be tempted to close credit card accounts that have become delinquent, but wait. Before you close any account make sure it won't negatively affect your credit. For example, closing a credit card with a balance can hurt your credit score. It's very rare that closing a credit card will improve your credit score.

Leaving an account open also provides you with a tradeline that can benefit your credit score as long as you're making timely monthly payments. More

Make contact with your creditors.

Right now they're certainly the last people you want to talk to, but you'd be surprised at the help you might receive if you call your credit card issuer. If you're having trouble, talk to your creditors about your situation. Many of them have temporary hardship programs that will reduce your monthly payments until you can get back on your feet.

Pay off a debt.

The amount of debt you're carrying is 30% of your credit score. You'll have to start paying off your debts to improve your credit situation.

Get creative about coming up with extra money to pay off your debt. For example, you could drive for a ride sharing service or sell some things on an online auction website for extra cash. It will take some sacrifice, but the financial freedom you gain - and the credit score points you gain - will be worth it. More

Get professional help.

Resources, like consumer credit counseling, are available to assist you. If you are overwhelmed by your credit situation, seek professional assistance. You can locate a credit counseling agency through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. You can also refer to your credit card billing statement for a phone number to call if you're experiencing trouble making your payments. More

Be patient and persistent.

Patience isn't a factor that's used to calculate your credit score, but it's something you need to have while you're repairing your credit. Your credit wasn't damaged overnight, so don't expect it to improve in that amount of time. Continue paying your debts on time each month and over time you will see your credit score improve.