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BOOST Your Credit 7 different ways to BOOST your credit profile:

1. Get a credit card if you don't have one Average amount of credit lines one should have should be between five to eight accounts. Don't fall for the myth that you have to carry a balance to have good scores. You don't, and you shouldn't. But having and using credit cards in rotation and paying them off can really build your scores.

2. Add an installment loan to the mix You'll get the fastest improvement in your scores if you show you're responsible with both major kinds of credit: revolving (credit cards) and installment (personal loans, auto, mortgages and student loans).

3. Pay down your credit cards Paying off your installment loans (mortgage, auto, student, etc.) can help your scores but typically not as dramatically as paying down or paying off revolving accounts such as credit cards. Should you have a balance on the revolving account, try to keep it below twenty-five percent of the account’s credit limit and no more than fifty percent. Having a balance over that threshold will significantly reduce your credit score.

4. Use your cards lightly Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. Most of the time the bureaus report a balance of your account based on dates within your billing cycle.

5. Ask for increase in your credit limits With a good payment history, creditors will grant a higher credit limit when requested, which in turn will have positive impact on your scores. Most credit card issuers will quickly update this information if you ask.

6. Dust off an old card The older your credit history, the better. But if you stop using your oldest cards, the issuers may decide to close the accounts or stop updating them to the credit bureaus. The accounts may still appear, but they won't be given as much weight in the credit-scoring formula as your active accounts.

7. Dispute old negatives Continue protesting collections, such as a fight with your phone company over an unfair bill a few years ago that resulted in a collections account. On many occasions, credit bureaus don’t bother investigating disputed small collections.

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