money-256319_1280A low credit score can affect anything from your relationship with your soon-to-be-spouse, to applying for a job, obtaining car insurance or even a professional license. In real estate, it can directly correlate to a higher interest rate on your loan.

I’m not saying ditch the acting classes. No no, that would be absurd. Maybe scale back the spending a little on your punkin chunkin machine is all. To avoid succumbing to the grips of the banks, you can fight back. By taking proactive steps to fixing your credit score, with a little know-how and some diligence, you can be on your way to lowering your interest rates and saving money. With the help of Experian, here are 5 tips for improving your credit score.

  • Pay your bills on time

Easier said than done sometimes I know…but late payments and collections will always and forever lower your credit score.

  • Keep balances low on credit cards

Once I surpass the 33% credit mark on one of my cards, I get an email from my credit card provider telling me that I’m carrying a high balance, and that hurts my score. I try to stop, but sometimes those new shades are impossible to live without. That or food. Can’t live without food. Who am I kidding, it’s almost summer, buying shades instead.

  • Don’t open too many credit card accounts

Between the airline miles, the cash back, and the free promotions it may seem like it makes sense to run up $1000 worth of charges to get that $50 cash back bonus. At least it takes off some of the guilt for buying all those Omaha steaks. Stick to a few cards you need, and revolve them for use every month.

  • Don’t move the debt around

Think you’re being clever paying off your balance on one card with another? Well, in the miles, cash back, and free promotions arena, you may be benefitting in the short term if your card even allows that to happen. But it’s still debt and you’re just going to add more. This doesn’t help your case, and they’ll catch it every time there junior Frank Abagnale.

  • Ease off applying for the cards

Every time you apply for a card, they run your credit. This essentially puts up a flag saying, “Hey, I’m about to go ahead and borrow more money.” This usually ends up as a minor ding in your credit armor even if you don’t get the card. Best advice, limit the amount of times you run your report if you can help it.

So how long will it take to improve my score?

Well that depends. According to Experian, delinquencies remain on your credit report for seven years. Some bankruptcies and unpaid tax liens may sustain themselves for 10 years. Inquiries remain on your report for two years.

The best thing you can do is take a good look at your report and dispute any errors. You may have items on your report you didn’t even know were there. Of course you can only do so much if you have big issues on it, but following the steps above do nothing but help. Another step is to speak with a lender, some lenders will work with you to help determine a course of action that will set you up for a better rate when it comes time to buy.

Best of luck out there, and hopefully you can use these tips to help save some money!