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Credit Card eZine - News and Articles about Credit Cards

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Give Your Credit Score a Fall Tune-Up

[October 27th, 2013]

It’s that time of year when kids sport new back-to-school outfits and fresh haircuts, the weather cools down, and people begin to prepare for the winter ahead. Fall is harvest season, when farmers reap the rewards of the hard work they did planting all spring. It’s the perfect time to reassess your finances, as well. If you aren’t sure where your credit score stands, give it a tune-up for fall with these five easy steps:

  • Step 1: Get a copy of your credit report. The first thing you must do is find out exactly what’s on your credit report, clean up any inaccurate information, and see where you stand. Go to annualcreditreport.com to get a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You will be able to look at your credit information, though you will not be able to see your score. For that, you will have to pay a small fee. Whether or not you want to do this is up to you. Knowing your score can be helpful but is not necessary.
  • Step 2: Look over the reports and make sure everything is correct. If you find something that isn’t right, initiate the dispute process so you can get it corrected as quickly as possible. It could be something as small as an incorrect address or an account listed as active when it was closed years ago. Or it could be something as serious as an account that doesn’t belong to you being listed on your credit report. Mistakes happen; in fact some estimates say that up to 80% of credit reports contain at least one error.
  • Step 3: Get payments up to date. If you are delinquent on any accounts, make a plan to get them paid up so all your accounts are current. Call your credit issuer if you are having trouble making payments; they may be able to arrange a payment plan that fits your budget. Having a lot of debt or being behind on payments can really drag your credit score down.
  • Step 4: Sign up for text or email alerts from all your credit card issuers. Doing this will help you stay on top of your payments and ensure that you don’t fall behind, which can hurt your credit score. You can also sign up for automatic payments so the minimum due comes out of your checking account automatically each month. However, only do this if you’re sure your payment will clear every time. If it doesn’t, you’ll be in for a late charge from your credit card company and an over limit or returned payment charge from your bank.
  • Step 5: Transfer balances and consolidate debt. Now that you’ve seen what you owe and to who, it might be a good time to consider doing a balance transfer to save on interest and simplify your finances. Applying for another line of credit is a good idea only if your credit is already pretty good, though. It can help you go from very good to excellent credit—but if you have poor credit, don’t apply for more just yet.

Now that your credit is looking good for the coming winter, you can hunker down and get debts paid off before it’s time to spring-clean your accounts.

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