Last Updated Feb 3, 2010 2:39 PM EST
How to maximize your credit score
Lenders these days are exceptionally cautious about extending consumers credit such as mortgages, car loans, and even credit cards. The difficult environment for borrowers makes a good credit score more important than ever. To raise your score, you have to understand what goes into that essential three-figure number.
The score, which typically ranges between 300 and 800, is calculated by credit agencies, which examine factors that are good predictors of creditworthiness, as indicated by their records. The single most important is your payment history: Do you have a long record of making debt payments when they're due? Other key inputs include the amount you have borrowed, compared to amount you could, if you wanted, and the length of time you've owned any particular credit account. The higher your score, the more likely you'll qualify for a loan at favorable interest rates. The lower your score, the more expensive your loan is likely to be — if you qualify at all.
The links below provide information you can use to understand and improve your credit score.
About 30% of your credit score is determined by the amount of money you currently owe. MoneyWatch's Jill Schlesinger explains the other 70%.
Your credit score may take a serious hit if your bank slashes your home equity credit line, but filing an appeal can help salvage your finances.
The Federal Trade Commission has put together a useful guide to credit scores: what they are and how to improve yours. Plus: seven important tips to protecting yourself as a consumer.
Why you should avoid these alluring credit offers. If you sign up for them, you could find yourself in worse financial trouble.
Your credit score might rise or fall depending on the type of credit you want and which credit agency issues the credit report. Here's what you need to know before signing up to get your score.
A how-to guide to boosting your credit score fast. It pays to raise your score because doing so could get you lower interest rates on loans and credit cards.
Why you can no longer get your credit score from credit bureau Experian if you want to see your scores. Plus: how to get your other credit scores from myFICO.com.