Finance » Saving

Clean Your Credit in Seven Steps

by David Auten and John R. Schneider
Sunday Sep 13, 2015

As most everyone knows, sometimes things in your life just need a good cleaning. Well, the same goes for your credit.

The average credit score in the U.S. is 636, and the median score is at 723. Simply put, there are more bad scores than good. Just as bad credit and over extension has affected Greece and caused a national emergency, it can be likewise with your personal credit.

Here are seven suggestions for those who wish to improve their credit score. The wisest course is to follow each suggested step in the order presented, as the former will provide more immediate benefits than the latter.

1) Pay Bills On Time

It's only fashionable to be late to the party, not with your bills. The majority (35 percent) of what affects a credit score is payment history, so the quickest way to improve your credit score is to not miss or be late for any payments.

2) Lower Credit Utilization Ratio

When you see someone double-fisting drinks at the bar, you can guess what state they'll be in by midnight. Your bank has the same perception of you when you have a high credit card balance relative to your credit card limit, so get your credit card balance below 50 percent of each credit card's limit.

3) Preserve Your Credit History

Don't close credit card accounts like you might doors on an ex, even if they are paid off. Longer credit histories tend to have higher credit scores. Be sure to use your credit card once in a while and then pay it off before the balance is due, to let credit agencies know you haven't closed the account or gone all Margot Kidder.

4) Correct Your Credit Report

Especially because of increased credit card fraud, a la Target. Get a copy of your credit report annually, analyze it for accuracy and contest all errors, including misspelled names, incorrect addresses and false claims. It's never a good thing to have false rumors floating about, especially when it comes to your financial history. Correct yours by calling 877.322.8228, or by going to

5) Get A Gas Station Credit Card

Gas station credit cards can only be used at gas stations (no shopping sprees at Nordstrom). Since you must buy gas anyway, get a credit card for your favorite station, keep the balance small and pay it off before it's due, every month for several months. Doing so will make your credit score increase, just like waistline after your Pride diet ends, because you'll demonstrate your ability to manage the weight of a credit card.

6) Don't Apply For More Credit

Don't open any other credit card accounts, apply for a loan, get a new apartment or attempt anything that will cause your credit to be checked for at least a year. This tells banks that you're responsible and can cover your expenses. It may seem "bass-ackwards," but banks want customers who don't need them. Hmmm, reminds me of my ex, somehow.

7) Get A Secured Credit Card

After the subscribed, full-year credit application moratorium, open a secured credit card account. Use it once a month, and then immediately pay it off. Although the fees might be high, this process will help to improve your credit history. Once your credit score has reached a reasonable range, cancel this card... quicker than Fox cancelled "Knock Knock Live!"

Everyone can repair or improve their credit score. The best way to do this is to demonstrate that you're a worthy borrower. Pay your bills on time and don't overextend yourself. It's the most efficient way to "clean" your credit.

For help getting out of credit card debt, buy our book "4: The Four Principles of a Debt Free Life," available on Amazon and Kindle, or go to

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