Today’s economy runs on credit. Find out what your credit score is and how to improve it.

Last year, my grandpa chuckled and said, “Looks like I’m on borrowed time,” as he blew out eighty-plus candles on the towering inferno that we called a birthday cake. He may be on ‘borrowed time,’ as he put it, but myself and many others are borrowing much more than time.

Today’s economy runs on credit. I needed to borrow money for college, for the purchasing of my home and when I needed new clothes for work. Student loans, mortgage loans and credit cards — all of these, among many other things, require good credit.

Your credit score also affects how much you pay for things, including your health and car insurance, how much companies require you put down as a deposit, the interest rate on your credit card and even what job you get. Some employers look at credit scores to see if the people they’re considering hiring are responsible and reliable.

Today, I’m going to tell you how you can find out what your current credit card score is and how to improve it.

What’s Your Credit Score?

Every year, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report at their request.

Each credit reporting agency formats and reports information differently, That being said, you can expect them all to include information on where you live, how you pay your bills, whether you’ve been sued or have filed for bankruptcy, your credit accounts and credit inquiries.

Order your free annual report by contacting one of the agencies below:

Equifax: Visit, or call 866-349-5191.

Experian: Visit, or call 1-888-397-3742.

TransUnion: Visit, or call 877-322-8228.

How Do You Improve Your Credit Score?

  • First and foremost — pay your bills on time.
  • Keep balances low on credit cards. Something that is taken into account is called “credit utilization.” Those who keep their utilization percentage (credit card balance) low, but above zero, can majorly improve their credit scores. Doing so says, “Yes, I use my credit card, but only as needed. I never spend more than I am able to pay back. Therefore,I’m responsible and reliable.”
  • Never max out your credit cards.
  • Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. What this means is that the next time you visit a store and they ask if you want to apply for their store credit card to save 10%, say no. Every application erodes your credit score.

The credit clean-up process can be tricky and overwhelming. But, if you follow the steps above along with many of our other budgeting tips, you can start to get your financial situation back in order. It’s all about taking steps. Eventually you’ll get to your destination.

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