Roanoke, Va.—It's a number that impacts your life on so many levels. It determines if you can buy a home or a new car and how much interest you'll pay. Some of us either love our number or hate. The average American has a credit score of 687 according to Experian National Score Index.
Still, there is always room for improvement. Here's what you can do to keep your score up. First and most importantly, pay your bills on time but if you're stretched thin, Bankruptcy Attorney Tracy Giles suggest prioritizing.
"A lot of times the credit card companies and smaller lenders will worry the heck out of you, but just cause they worry the heck out of you does not make them more important. If I were telling people what to pay, I would say pay your mortgage if you have a house, pay your mortgage first," says Giles who specializes in Bankruptcy Law at Giles & Lambert, P.C., in Roanoke.
Another hidden hole that could sink your score, don't co-sign for someone if you're not completely sure they're dependable. Also, avoid credit card introductory offers, lenders like loyalty and stability. Be sure to settle any outstanding tax liens and don't let student loans come back to haunt you.
"A lot of the student loans, the vast majority are backed by the government, and they're not dealing with those debts, they're not doing something to resolve the obligation, that's going to have a huge obligation on their credit score going forward," says Malissa Giles of Giles & Lambert, P.C.
Tip six is a biggie. Something as small as a $20 parking ticket can impact your credit score.
"Cities are under more pressure to collect debts and so one of the main revenues for some places, and they have these outsourced to different companies," says Tracy Giles
Rounding out the seven tips, if you check out a book from the library, return it. Again, if your hometown library is aggressive about late fees, they could be turned over to a collection agency and that could come back to haunt you.