Understand Your Finances
Conquer your credit: How to face your credit score and keep it healthy
Understand how to increase your credit score
Chase Slate is helping consumers understand and improve their credit health - most recently with an exciting set of video stories.
A healthy credit score is the key to financial freedom, but for some people, even taking a look at it makes them anxious.
In a recent video for Chase, Slate spokesperson Farnoosh Torabi sat down with a woman who was as scared to face her credit score as she was about roller coasters.
But once she took a look—which is easy, free, and has no impact on your overall score—it turned out it wasn't so bad.
"Knowledge is power, and once you have that knowledge, you can move forward," Torabi says. "The earlier you figure out where you stand, the more time you have to take the steps to improve it."
Here are a few tips from Torabi to keep your credit score healthy:
Pay your bills on time
Payment history is actually the most important factor when it comes to your credit score. "So if nothing else, just pay your bills on time," Torabi says.
FICO says the average debt-to-credit ratio for "FICO High Achievers" is roughly 7 percent.
Keep track of your number
It's important to point out that checking your monthly credit score frequently does not negatively impact your score. It's actually a great way to stay on top of your credit health.
Keep credit lines open
When you've paid off your balances, keep those credit cards open. "Your credit score likes to see that you have a variety of credit, so having more credit available to you can actually boost your score," Torabi says.
While closing an account diminishes your available credit (which could increase that debt-to-credit ratio discussed above), it doesn't erase the fact that you've had that card since, say, 2005 or the first day of college, so keeping credit lines open is a good general practice.
The length of your credit history remains on your report for several years even after the account is closed. And that's good. The longer your history, the better for your score.
Pauline Millard is a Chase News contributor. Her work has appeared in The Associated Press, LearnVest and The Huffington Post.