Improving your credit scores doesn’t require you to be rich, but it may mean making some changes to your current financial habits. For example, you can bring down your credit utilization ratio, which is one of the factors used to calculate your FICO score, by repaying debts. However, improving your credit score is a long-term process, but it helps to know that there are points you can follow to get started. In this article, we’ll look at the strategies for improving yours.

Keep a Credit Record

Your credit score is your financial reputation, influencing the terms of loans, mortgages, credit cards, even some jobs. It’s based on how you use credit, including payment history and debt amount. Build your credit file by having at least two accounts open, active, and in good standing with lenders/card issuers that report to major bureaus. A national retail credit card will do the trick.

Don’t Skip Payments

Don’t make late payments. Paying bills on time is one of the best things you can do to protect your credit scores. Each month, make sure there’s enough money in your accounts to cover all your bills—especially important are mortgage payments, car loan payments, and the minimum monthly payment due on any credit card.

Make Your Accounts Current

If you are behind on your bills, try to catch up. By making all your payments, you are providing positive information on your credit report. Before you start catching up, find out how late the payment was, what the status of that account is, and who reported it to the credit bureaus. If your account was paid late because of medical reasons or some other extenuating situation, call the lender to explain why you were late.

Keep a Check on Revolving Accounts With a High Balance

When it comes to credit scoring, credit utilization is one of the most significant factors that influences your scores. A good tip to help improve your credit score and maintain a healthy ratio is to pay down revolving account balances and avoid charging them up again.

Don’t Apply for New Accounts That Often

You may need to open some new accounts while building your credit file, but each time you open a new account, it can lead to multiple credit inquiries, a small negative effect on your scores, and a decrease in the average age of accounts. So, it’s a good idea to limit how often you open new accounts.