8/3/20232 min read

person using laptop computer holding card
person using laptop computer holding card

The Internet has opened many doors for us; however, that is a mixed blessing. It has also made your individual credit score easily accessible and many of us have no idea what our score is or what helped create that number.

The FICO credit score is a result of many parameters in your financial history: how timely you pay your bills, whether you have any outstanding liens, too many credit cards, etc. When you apply for credit, companies will look at this score in their approval process.

How do you measure up?

Score 700 – 850: Smooth loan process; best interest rates

Score 550 – 699: Medium risk; higher interest rates

Score 300 – 549:Sorry, no loans or credit cards

Find out where you stand by ordering your credit report from the three major companies: Equifax Information Services, LLC, 800-685-1111; Experian, 888.EXPERIAN; TransUnion LLC Consumer Disclosure Center, 800.888.4213. I suggest you get a report from each of these (they charge for this service) and check them thoroughly. If there are errors or surprises, you can dispute them through the credit agencies, or you can contact the creditor directly.

Are you counting on a new car, a new roof, new furniture? Before you talk financing, send for your credit report and FICO score. If there are errors or other surprises, contact creditors to make corrections or negotiate settlements. Also, be sure to notify the credit bureau of your dispute.

Legitimate black marks on your credit won't disappear quickly. (It takes seven years; ten for bankruptcy.) However, time and your diligence can turn things around. Lenders will give recent responsible activity due consideration.


It helps to:

  • Pay all bills on time

  • Maintain only 2-4 credit cards

  • Close unused credit or store cards

  • Keep balances well below the limit

  • Pay more than the minimum required

  • Establish long-term credit histories

Understand your credit score and stay on top of it!

In our credit-driven society, taking charge of your credit should be an ongoing process. Your FICO score is a snapshot in time, not set in concrete. Review it each year for errors that may have crept in and to monitor your progress. You have the power to know it, raise it, maintain it.


  • Pay all bills and pay on time

  • Maintain 2-4 credit cards

  • Close unused credit or store cards

  • Keep balances well below the limit

  • Pay more than the minimums

  • Establish long-term credit history

  • Too many credit cards or zero cards

  • High non-mortgage debt

  • Delinquent accounts

  • Frequent job or address changes

  • Charge Off's* (bills marked uncollectible)

  • Bankruptcy