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Ask Savvy: How Do I Get My Bad Credit Under Control? Part I

Dear Savvy,

I have bad credit and am trying to get it under control. Can you give me any tips on how to control it quickly? Can I get an apartment with bad credit? And is me having bad credit stopping me from getting a better paying job?

See my answer to the first part of this question when you


Savvy says: Not everyone has the same credit score, but all credit scores are based on the same components: Payment history, outstanding debt, length of credit history, any new credit, and types of credit used. Payment history and outstanding debt together make up 65 percent of your total score, so if you have bad credit, chances are these are the areas you should focus on most when repairing your credit.

Your credit score won't turn around in a dash, but adopting these habits will steadily improve your score as you prove to creditors that you're a responsible borrower. Here are the most important steps in repairing your credit — commit to them and hold yourself accountable to each of these items.

  • Make sure your credit report doesn't have any errors that could be lowering your score. Report any errors immediately.
  • Pay more than the minimum payment on your credit cards until you've paid them all off. Remember that closing cards can negatively affect your debt to credit ratio, so be sure to keep them open, particularly the ones you've had the longest.
  • Pay your bills on time, without fail. Whether or not you've made punctual payments is the heaviest factor in your score.
  • If you continue using your cards, be sure to never go over your credit limit. This puts you at risk for interest rate hikes and a dent in your credit score.

Stay tuned for my answer to part two of the featured question!


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