Building and Maintaining an Excellent Credit Score

Mastering Credit Planning Your Future Forming Money Habits

Step 8 of 10 Steps to Financial Wellness

Establishing and maintaining a healthy score is a crucial part of financial wellness. What’s a healthy number?

Woman with credit card and phone

Most lenders consider 670–739 to be an indication of stability and reliability. As such, benefits of such a score include:

  • Better interest rates on credit cards and loans.
  • Improved chances of securing a home rental.
  • Better vehicle and home insurance rates.
  • Cellphone contracts without a security deposit.

For step 8 of your financial wellness journey, let’s explore ways to build and maintain a quality credit score.

Pay down debt

Stuck in a debt rut? The concepts of “debt snowball” and “debt avalanche” can help. Here’s how each work in a nutshell:

  • Snowball: Work your way up to paying off the largest debt.
  • Avalanche: Start paying off debt with the highest interest rate and work your way down.

Eliminating your debt may take a while, but showing the credit bureaus that you’re on track to do so can boost your score.

Have an active credit card or two

Sure, having multiple credit cards may sound counterintuitive to digging out of—and staying out of—debt. However, building and preserving a healthy credit score requires owning a card or two and using them responsibly. Paying back your balance each month before interest kicks in is a great way to help move your credit score upward.

Pay your bills on time

Paying credit card bills on, or before, their due date is a major factor in determining your score. Carrying a large outstanding balance, and/or owing lots of interest, suggests that you are not timely with your bills and can’t be counted on to repay loans responsibly. Consider setting up automatic monthly payments for your bills so you’re never late—just be sure to keep enough in your funding account to cover the balances.

Bring down your credit utilization ratio

Another crucial factor contributing to your score is your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of available credit you have and use. It’s best to keep this ratio under 30% (even lower is better, if you can).

Next Step: Start Investing for Retirement

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