5 Ways to Care for Your Credit

Your credit score is a living thing. It changes and grows, reacts to your financial environment, and needs regular “feeding.” Hopefully it’s up more often than down, but in order to thrive, your credit score requires care and attention.

Understanding what makes it change can help you ensure your score stays healthy throughout your life. Take care of your credit score and you can reap the rewards commonly associated with a good score, including better access to credit and more favorable credit terms.

Taking care of your credit score is a lot like caring for a beloved pet:

1. You need to keep an eye on it. Unattended or ignored pets can get into trouble. Failing to keep tabs on your credit score means you may well miss an important change in your credit report – one that affects your score or could even alert you to fraud or identity theft.

2. You need to follow a schedule. Your pet requires meals, sleep and play time on a regular schedule. Your score needs a schedule too, one in which you check on it at regular intervals and follow a timeline for taking the steps that will keep it healthy, such as paying bills on time.

3. It needs rest. Working your credit too much can run down your score. Too many credit applications or too-high credit card balances can adversely affect your score. Give your credit an occasional rest by minimizing new credit applications and paying off card balances immediately.

4. You need to nurture it. Your score needs basic “nourishment” like timely bill paying, regular checkups and paying down outstanding debt.

5. It requires exercise. Just as over-using credit is bad, not using it at all can adversely affect your score. Use credit wisely by only applying for new credit when you really need it and paying off balances quickly. Establishing a history of timely bill paying habits is one of the most important things you can to do improve your credit score.

When it comes to your financial life, a well-cared-for credit score can be your best friend, one that helps you enjoy life and feel secure for many years.