Lending requirements are always changing, and what was a good credit score last summer may not get you your desired interest rate now. So step one is to speak with a reputable local lender. They can advise you on the credit score you’ll need to get the rate you want, and what you must do to improve your score. Beyond that, here are a few tips worth remembering:
- Check your credit report for errors. If negative items from more than 10 years ago remain on the report, ask for them to be removed.
- Don’t keep credit card balances near the card limits. Nearly one third of your credit score is based on the ratio of available credit to the amount owed.
- Keep accounts active and use them to make small purchases several times a year, then pay them off right away.
- Pay bills on time. Payment history counts for about 35% of your credit score. If you run into trouble, contact the company to work out a payment plan.
- Acquiring new cards will ding your credit score. Wait until you buy a home to apply, even if issuers entice you with discounts.