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5 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score and Save Money

Credit scores can control spending and decisions — so raise yours today.

Soaring interest rates mean that you’re paying more in loans and credit card interest. But you can lower those fees, saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars, by having a higher credit score. Here are five easy ways to boost your credit score and ultimately save yourself a lot of money and headaches.

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Check for errors

In a recent Consumer Reports survey of nearly 6,000 folks, 34 percent found at least one error on their credit report, such as a credit card account that wasn’t theirs. Unfortunately, mistakes can keep your credit score low and your loan or credit card interest high. That’s because credit bureaus use the information in your credit report to assess your credit score, then lenders use that number to decide whether to approve a loan and how much interest they’ll charge. The higher your credit score, the more creditworthy you appear and the more likely you are to receive a line of credit and get offered lower interest. Simply request a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion; just log on to AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322- 8228. If you spot a mistake, you can fill out a dispute form for free at Equifax.com, Experian.com, or TransUnion.com.

Tip: To learn your credit score, log on to your credit card’s website — many offer the information at no charge. Or sign up for a free account at CreditKarma.com, which gives you scores from TransUnion and Equifax, two of the three major consumer credit bureaus.

Pay this bill on time

Believe it or not, your credit score may be about to rise all on its own! Thanks to recent changes in debt reporting, medical bills that went into collections will now get erased from credit reports once they’ve been paid rather than staying on your report for seven years. And starting in 2023, all overdue medical debt of less than $500 won’t ever end up on your credit report. This is a big deal since payment histories make up the biggest portion of your credit report — 35 percent — so fewer late payments drive up your credit score. Also helpful: You can boost your score immediately by 13 points on average by simply signing up for Experian Boost. This free program takes into account your on-time payments to services that don’t normally get factored into your credit report (such as cable TV and mobile phones), making your payment history even better!

Share your good news

If you experienced an increase in income, report it to your banks and credit card lenders by updating your online account profile on their websites or by giving them a call. Sharing your higher income raises the likelihood that you’ll qualify for a higher credit limit on your current credit cards automatically or when you call and request it. That’s key since this improves your credit utilization, which is the ratio of debt to available credit that you carry — a factor that impacts 30 percent of your credit score. When you have lower debt compared to available credit, your credit score rises.

Use this payment option

Love the convenience of the new “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) option offered by many businesses (like Expedia.com, Overstock.com, and Walmart.com) that allows you to split the cost of purchases into four to six payments without added interest? Here’s another reason to use it: Two credit reporting bureaus, Equifax and Experian, are now counting BNPL purchases toward your credit score. And TransUnion will likely follow. This means that your on-time BNPL payments will improve your payment history on your credit report. Plus, because BNPL is short-term financing, it shows lenders that you’re capable of handling different types of credit responsibly, which makes up 10 percent of your credit score.

Avoid scams

Get an email from a company that promises to raise your credit score for a fee? While there are legitimate businesses that offer to help repair your credit, some are scammers posing as credit repair companies, hoping to take your cash and then do nothing for you. Warning signs include: asking you for an upfront fee (by law, credit repair companies can’t ask for payment before services are rendered) and promising results (it’s illegal for these businesses to guarantee outcomes).

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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