How Do I Improve My Credit Score?

The single most important thing you can do to improve your score is pay your bills on time, every month. Getting and keeping your paperwork organized can help you improve your credit score. By keeping your monthly bills in a “To Pay” folder with due dates highlighted and marked on your calendar, you become less likely to miss a payment, or even lose track of a bill because it’s hiding in a stack of unorganized papers. 

Here is how FICO and VantageScore view your financial behavior and assign percentages to each behavior to determine your credit score. The higher the percentage, the more important that behavior becomes in determining your credit score.

As you can see, both FICO and VantageScore place a high importance on your payment history—whether or not you pay your bills on time, every month.

Credit Behavior VantageScore FICO Score

Payment History:
How pay your bills

On time: improves your score

Late: damages your score

 32%  32%

Available Credit:
How much credit you are approved for

The more available credit you have, the
better (but the more you use, not so).
 7% not

Credit Utilization:
How much of your approved credit you use

 Do you use all of the credit you’re approved for
(your available credit)? Even if you pay off your
credit cards each month, try not to use more than
30% of the total amount of credit you’re approved for.
If you must carry a balance, limit it to that 30% of total approved credit.
 23% not

Credit Balances:
How much money you owe (your debt)

How much money you owe (your debt)
Low or zero credit card and loan balances: improves your score
High balances: damages your score
 15%  30%

Depth of Credit:
How long you’ve been using credit

While the number of years you need to have used credit before they help improve your score rather than damage it is undefined, the longer you’ve used credit, the better.  13%  15%

How often you request credit

None to once a year: improves your score
Many times a year: damages your score

Exceptions: requesting credit for insurance or mortgage or auto loans—lenders know you shop around for these types of products

 10%  10%
Credit Type:What kind of credit you have—mortgage, auto, revolving (credit card), personal  A combination of loan types: helps your score
(having only one type of credit, such as credit cards, doesn’t hurt your score, but having a variety of types helps your score).
 not applicable  10 %