Now for the reason you are here…

A credit score is like your in-laws.

Some are really great. Some are not so great. And some people like to pretend they don’t exist.

Well, they do exist (your credit score that is…and probably your in-laws too) and whether you have a great credit score or a poor one, there is always room for improvement.

You can always do better.

Here are some tips for improving your credit score, no matter how good or bad it is…

Do the Right Thing Today

You may have a past full of missed and late payments, but it’s never too late to start paying on time.

The first step of improving your credit is to make sure it doesn’t get any worse.

This may mean you have to stop using your credit cards. At least for now.

Repair your credit

You went a little crazy there. I think I see your driver’s license in there.

Paying your bills on time is one of the most important parts of your credit, so start doing the right thing today.

Ask For Help

It never hurts to ask for help.

If you are falling behind or if you have had some hard times, let your lenders know. You may be able to get some reductions and forgiveness.

This could save you some points on your credit. No matter how bad it is now. Even if they can’t help, it never hurts to ask.

Self-Repair Your Own Credit

Don’t use a credit repair company. Let me repeat that…

DO NOT use a credit repair company.

They cannot do anything for you that you cannot do for yourself…and for free.

You can make the same phone calls they can. And you can have inaccurate credit information removed just as easily by calling yourself.

Related: 5 Simple Steps for Spring Cleaning Your Credit

Keep Watching

There are great companies, like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame, that can keep you up to date on your credit score. Use them.

The quicker you stop inaccurate information, the easier it can be to have it removed from your record.

Watch your credit

It’s also easier to catch identity thieves. Identity theft can really hurt your credit score. You should keep a close watch on your credit score and your credit reports to catch all errors.

Do What You Know

There are some obvious things to do when you’re trying to improve your credit score.

You probably know all or most of these, but I didn’t want to leave them out…

  • Ask creditors to have your credit limit raised
  • Paying off auto loans in 18-24 months is ideal
  • Keep low (or no) balances on your credit cards
  • Keep your debt-to-income ratio as low as possible
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to keep a revolving balance on your credit cards to boost your credit. Just pay them off, in full, every month. Also, raising your credit limit is only important if you’re carrying a balance from month to month.

Sometimes It Just Takes Time

There is one thing that you don’t have control over…time.

Time to build credit

Part of your credit score is determined by the length of your credit history.

You can’t have a really high score if you have only had credit for a year.

You may have to wait to give your accounts time to mature, just make sure you keep your accounts open so that account history can grow.

Your overall time of having credit is important, but it’s also important to show that you have had several accounts opened for an extended period of time. This can be anything from a credit card to a loan.

Just make sure you pay off your credit cards in full and on time.

Do you have credit card debt? Read 6 Take-Action Steps to Get Out of Credit Card Debt.

Photo Credit: Ed Ivanushkin, LaughingRhoda, Craig Sunter, Xava Du