How to maintain a good credit score
Explore ways to keep your credit score in good standing.
Your credit history reflects how you’ve managed debt in the past. And that history shows up in your credit score—a three-digit number that summarizes the information in your credit report.
Creditors can use that score to determine creditworthiness and when setting the terms of loans, including mortgages. And landlords may use it when you apply for an apartment. So maintaining a good credit score can have a big impact on your financial future.
What affects credit scores?
There are multiple factors that can affect your credit score. Things like bill-payment history, credit utilization, age of credit accounts and recent credit inquiries can all play a role. The number and types of balances you have can also impact your score.
It’s important to remember there are different scoring models. FICO® and VantageScore® are two common examples. Each uses their own formula to calculate different scores, so you might see a slight difference between them.
Ultimately, each lender uses their own credit policies to determine an applicant’s creditworthiness. But a good credit score can still mean you’re more likely to qualify for a loan or get a better interest rate.
Steps to maintaining your credit score
A good credit score depends on using credit responsibly over time. Here are a few tips from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to help keep your score up:
1. Pay your bills on time
Paying your credit card bills and other loans on time is important—especially since a history of late or missed payments could cause a dip in your credit score.
If you’re concerned about missing a due date, features like automatic bill pay can help you stay on top of your account payments.
2. Stay below your credit limit
Try to keep your credit utilization ratio low by not using up all of your available credit.
According to the CFPB, experts recommend keeping your credit utilization below 30% of your available credit.
3. Maintain credit history with older credit cards
Account history is another factor in your credit score. So the longer you show good credit habits, the better it could be for your score.
Closing a credit card account can increase your credit utilization rate, since it reduces the amount of credit you have available. Plus, depending on the age of the account, it could reduce the length of your credit history. And both these factors could lower your score. Keep in mind that a card issuer may also choose to close a credit card account for reasons like low usage.
4. Apply for new credit only as needed
You may want to consider what credit you need before applying for a new card. Multiple credit applications in a short period of time could have a negative impact on your score.
If you’re unsure whether you’ll be offered a card, some lenders offer a pre-approval option. That includes Capital One. You can see whether you’re pre-approved for some cards with no impact to your credit score, and it only takes a few minutes.
5. Check your credit reports for errors
Proactively checking your credit report for errors is another way to help maintain a good score. You may be doing everything right, but others may not. And errors can potentially hurt your credit scores.
You can get free copies of your TransUnion®, Experian® and Equifax® credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One
Keep an eye on your credit as often as you want with CreditWise from Capital One. This free tool gives you access to your TransUnion credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score from your desktop or your phone. It won’t hurt your score to use it and you don’t even need to be a Capital One customer to enroll.
By creating some healthy financial habits, maintaining the good credit you’ve built can benefit you in countless ways.
Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.
We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.
Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. Your CreditWise score is a good measure of your overall credit health, but it is not likely to be the same score used by creditors. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.
CreditWise Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web.