Your credit score is the deciding factor for everything from buying a car to landing a job to renting a piece of property to getting a cell phone plan. If you ignore your credit score, you can wind up in a whole heap of trouble — but who wants to spend tons of time checking up on their credit score and trying to improve it? Rather than obsessing about that important number, there are some steps you can take to automating your credit score.
1. Monitor Your Credit History
Legally speaking, you’re entitled to one copy of your credit score from each of the three main credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) every year: it’s just a matter of requesting your free credit report through annualcreditreport.com. You can also automate the process — for a fee. TransUnion, through its TrueCredit.com website, will notify you of any changes to your credit history within 24 hours and provides unlimited access to your credit reports and credit scores, for $14.95 per month. While you can get most of the information TrueCredit provides for free (with a little hunting), using TransUnion’s service does make the process significantly easier.
2. Automate Your Bill Payments
The easiest way to get a ding on your credit report is to miss a payment, especially on your credit card. The biggest dent in my credit was the result of missing a payment on my cell phone because the bill wasn’t forwarded when I moved. Since then, I’ve not only switched over to electronic billing on all of my bills but I also set up automatic payments from my checking account. While there are other benefits to automating as much of your personal finances as possible, it will certainly keep you from running into problems with your credit score.
3. Up Your Payments
An easy way to boost your credit score by a couple of payments is to always pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards and other debt. Even an extra five bucks each month can make you a more valuable customer to your credit card company and bump your credit score upwards. Make a point of adding at least a few dollars to any of the credit card bills you’ve set up to pay automatically — and do the same for bills you pay by hand.
4. Dispute Errors via Phone
It’s surprisingly common to find that there’s an error on your credit history — and you only have 60 days to dispute any error that you find. If you have a secure outsourcing setup, you can delegate the task of disputing your credit report to your virtual assistant. Otherwise, expect to spend plenty of time on the phone if you find an error. You can minimize the time needed, however, by keeping up-to-date with your credit history through a credit monitoring service or by monitoring your credit yourself. You can also limit damage from identity theft and other problems in much the same way.
5. Work with a Credit Counselor
If you’re worried about falling behind on your credit cards, a credit counselor can help you create a more automatic plan for paying off credit cards and otherwise shoring up your credit. Check out your credit counselor before signing anything, though — with the current credit crunch, a lot of less-than-legitimate credit counseling services have popped up. Good services are affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
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Do you have any tips for automating your credit score? Let us know!
- “How I got my credit scores and credit report for free” (I Will Teach You To Be Rich)
- “The Four C’s of Applying for and Managing your Credit” (Wisebread)
- “How to clear mistakes from your credit report” (MSNBC)
- “7 Simple Tips And 5 Secrets to Increase Your Credit Score” (Follow Steph)
- “9 Ways to Pay Off Debt” (Motley Fool)
- “How-To Guide: Reduce Your Debt” (Motley Fool)