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Give Your Credit Report a Spring Cleaning

[Sunday, April 27th, 2014]

Spring is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to clean out all the winter debris that has accumulated: dusty windowsills, weedy dead flowerbeds—and maybe a credit report damaged from holiday spending, high heating bills and car repairs. When is the last time you gave your credit score the same kind of scrubbing you give your kitchen floors?

Here are five quick ways to clean out your credit score this spring.

  1. Order a copy of your credit report. This is free once per year through You will be able to access your credit report from each of the three major bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Look over the report carefully to make sure all information is correct. This will contain data about not only your name and birthdate, but also addresses and employers you have had over the years, accounts you have opened and closed, and payments you’ve made on those accounts. There is a lot of information to digest, so have a highlighter in hand and take your time going over each report, making a note of anything that looks unfamiliar, questionable, or wrong.
  2. Correct any mistakes on your credit report. This means writing letters to each credit bureau that has faulty information on its report. Everything must be in writing, and you should keep copies of all correspondence. Once you have filed a complaint, the credit bureau must investigate. If they find the information to be incorrect, or get no response from the creditor or agency that put the information on your report, they must remove it.
  3. Get in the habit of paying your bills on time. If you’ve slipped a little over the winter, get in shape now. Set up automatic payments on your accounts and pay them online. Paying all your balances on time is a large part of keeping your credit score squeaky clean, so make sure you never miss a due date.
  4. Keep your balances low. The rule of thumb is, don’t run your cards up more than 30% of their available balance. So a card with a $10,000 limit should not have more than a $3,000 revolving balance on it. Maxing out your credit cards is one of the worst things you can do to dirty-up your credit score, so keep those balances under control.
  5. Don’t apply for the wrong credit cards. Now that you’ve checked your credit, you know if it’s excellent, good, average, or poor. If you want to apply for a new rewards credit card or travel credit card, look for one that is appropriate to your level of credit. If your credit is just average, applying for a bunch of credit cards recommended for people with excellent credit is only going to lower your score further. Read up on the different types of credit cards available and choose one that is perfect for you.

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