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5 Back-to-School Credit Score Tips for Parents

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Summer draws to a close with mixed feelings for most of us: Although we might have enjoyed some vacation time with family – perhaps a trip to the beach — it’s also nice to see our home routines returning to normal. By the end of summer, the whole family starts to get a little stir-crazy and we need to get some structure back into our lives.

So the back-to-school season is good for the entire household. It’s a psychological shift back to “normal” and, many of the things we neglected during the summer are picked up again — like healthy eating, careful spending, taking the kids to piano lessons. It’s also an opportunity for us to revisit our credit report and credit score, which might have taken a little vacation this summer as well!

With the back-to-school routines starting again at your house, it’s a great time to pay regular attention to your credit to boost your score. Here are some steps to make credit building simple and painless, and to integrate it seamlessly into your life:

  • Get your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), using AnnualCreditReport.com. Since your credit reports do not contain your credit score, you’ll want to check that, too. You can get your credit score for free using Credit.com’s Credit Report Card.
  • Go “back to school” yourself and get educated on credit. No, you don’t have to attend classes; there are many great resources out there (and right here on Credit.com) to help you.
  • Put your credit reports through a rigorous exam: Check them for accuracy and dispute any errors you discover. Although you can’t assign them a grade, you’ll move your own credit toward A+ when you point out the errors on your credit reports.
  • You’ll be amazed how quickly and painlessly it can be to build your credit if you spend a little time to focus on it. Divide up your tasks into small 10- or 15- minute chunks and work at it every day during “homework time”.
  • Make sure you use all of your credit cards regularly to keep them active. If necessary, schedule on your calendar to use specific ones each month just to make sure. Ideally, you should not charge more to your credit cards than you can afford to pay in cash, and you should pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges. If you can’t do that, then aim to keep your balance around 25% of your limits, which will help your credit score. Used properly, your credit cards are good tools to build your credit.

Image: lori05871, via Flickr

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  • http://bestcreditrepaircompanys.com Michael B.

    That last one is so hard to follow yet so important. I’m curious to know how many people out there actually do a good job at maintaining that 25% mark. Geez that takes discipline huh?? And I totally agree with putting your credit report through a rigorous exam. Well said! Those dang things have so many errors in them and all it takes is quickly identifying them and getting them corrected.

  • http://forum.credit.com/ fused

    For most people, it’s best to have only one credit card reporting a small balance (1-9% of your card’s credit limit) on your credit reports. To ensure this happens, pay off balances before your credit card “statement dates”, not the due date. Credit card companies report your statement balance to the credit reporting agencies. Doing this will also save you money by not having to pay interest and it will boost your FICO credit scores.

    For more information on all of this, check out the Forum at Credit.com!

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