Four Steps to Improve Your Credit Score

Personal Credit
Written by: Craig Sievertsen, SVP, Consumer and Small Business Lending Director
Woman paying bills at kitchen table with laptop

Your credit score is a rating that determines your ability to access credit when you need it. Your three-digit FICO score has a range from 300 to 850; the higher the number the stronger your credit.

Poor credit is costly, and, long term, can add stress to your life—not only influencing your ability to make key purchases like buying a home or car, but also impacting other important life events like landing the jobs you want.

That’s why it’s important to know your credit score and be aware of your credit history.

Here are some helpful steps to learn your score and, if needed, improve it:

  1. Request copies of your credit report from the three primary credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Each will detail your current and past credit, including mortgage, even state and federal debts. It’s normal for your score to be slightly different with each agency. If you see items on your report you think are incorrect, you can dispute errors by contacting the credit agencies.

  2. Pay your bills on time. It helps build a positive credit history and in turn boosts your credit score. But a lack of timely bill payments has the opposite effect

  3. Consider paying off credit card balances. This can help improve your credit score, and save you money by avoiding compounding interest on existing balances.

  4. If you’re struggling to make monthly payments, contact your creditors and look into consumer credit counseling. You may be pleasantly surprised to find many creditors are willing to work with you to address your financial strain. You can locate a credit counseling agency through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at

It’s important to understand that improving your credit score and reducing your debt requires the same kind of discipline as being on a diet. The debt—like weight—comes on over a period of time and takes time to get back into shape. If you stay focused, patient and persistent, ultimately you’ll feel a lot more comfortable and confident about your future.