If you’re looking to buy a house, unless you intend to pay cash, you’re going to need to get a loan. One obstacle to getting a loan is having a low credit score — if lenders don’t trust that you’ll be able to pay them back, they won’t want to give you a loan. Even if they are willing to lend you money, they will do so at a higher interest rate. Your credit score ranges from 300 to 850, with 800 or above being considered excellent credit, though most people have a credit score between 600 and 750. If you want to know your credit score, or check for errors or fraud, you are entitled to one free annual credit report on AnnualCreditReport.com from each of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
The easiest way to ensure that your credit score doesn’t drop is to make bill payments on time. You may think that as long as the payment gets made, it doesn’t matter if it took a bit longer to get the money to them. That’s not the case, as payments made 30 days late or more can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years. If you are allowed a minimum payment, such as on credit card bills, even making the minimum payment on time is better than waiting until you have the full amount. If you do find yourself in debt, paying down existing debt will also increase your credit score. One thing that you may not realize affects your credit score is the timing of applying for cards. If you apply for several credit cards in a short time period, it looks like you’re wanting a large amount of cash very soon, and may not have the money to pay back loans.