How to Improve Credit as Credit Limits Fluctuate
As credit limits change, keep these tips handy to improve your credit score and strengthen credit history.
A higher credit limit—and other benefits—are within reach. But first, you may need to take a few simple steps to improve your credit health.
Your credit limit is an important part of your overall financial picture. Like all things financial, your credit limit is fluid—it changes in response to various economic and business conditions.
As a borrower—whether through a mortgage, credit card, or line of credit—there are things you can do to improve your credit health. And good credit health is your best bet for maintaining or even increasing the credit that’s available to you.
Ways to Improve Credit Health
Your credit history is a big factor that credit rating agencies and lenders look at when evaluating a credit customer. The things that show up in a credit profile that may benefit you include paid-off loans and credit card balances that are paid regularly and on time. Things that can negatively affect you are debts that have gone into collections or overdue loan-service payments.
- Check your credit regularly. You can find most of these events by checking your credit report on a regular basis at AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s easy to miss an unexpected bill in the mail and occasionally have an account accidentally go to collections. You should resolve these issues as quickly as possible, but regularly checking your credit report can help you make sure these events are removed from your record as soon as possible. You should also look for and address any errors.
- Use a credit monitoring service. Another way to stay on top of changes to your credit history is to sign up for a credit monitoring service, which will track your credit scores and alert you if there are any changes.
- Avoid maxing out your credit. A simple method to boost your credit health has to do with how much of your available credit that you’re currently using. This is also called credit utilization. The general rule is to keep your total outstanding debt at a minimum. If you can keep your overall debt at less than 10% of your credit line, then that will help improve your credit health quickly. Paying down a portion of your outstanding debt is a good way to move into healthy-credit territory.
- Don’t close out older accounts. It’s a great feeling to pay off a credit card or pay down a credit line to zero. And to put an exclamation point on that feeling, it can be tempting to cancel that card or shut down that credit line entirely, but shutting down those cards and credit lines can surprisingly harm your credit health, because it means you have less available credit. So, even if you don’t use them and owe nothing on the accounts, it can pay to keep them active.
- Be cautious with new accounts. In some cases, taking on new debt in the form of credit cards or bank loans can harm your credit health, so don’t open too many new accounts. There are times when new debt or new credit cards can be a necessity, but if it’s something like a store credit card, think twice before signing up for new credit.
- Pay bills on time. When it comes to simple things that can harm your credit health, overdue bills are probably the most common. There are many ways to stay up to date, including setting up autopay for bills. You should also go through your credit report, your personal papers, and old emails to find and either pay off or resolve delinquent accounts, charged-off accounts, or collection accounts. Doing so can offer a quick improvement to your credit health, though these negative events might take years to fall off your credit report.
The Benefits of Improving Credit Health
Better credit health may seem like a major project. But it can have positive effects that last for the rest of your life.
The biggest positive impact of better credit health is that you may receive better terms on any loans you take out in the future. That means lower interest rates on mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and more. A better credit score will also make you more likely to be approved for loans and could result in higher spending limits on credit cards.
But beyond just credit and loans, better credit health will improve other parts of your life. The range of companies and other institutions that will look up your credit score may surprise you. A higher credit score can help you access better insurance plans, cellular phone options, apartment and home rentals, waivers on security deposits for utilities, and it can even give you a leg up when applying for a job.
The way that we borrow funds and the credit history that we build follows us through life and affects the financial opportunities that we receive. Investing the time to implement strategies that will boost credit health will have lifelong implications that will pay off financially for years to come.