Want to pump up your credit score? Here are some tips:
* Get your credit reports: Once a year, you're entitled to a free copy from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). To request copies, go to: annualcreditreport.com.
Then check them for errors: erroneous late payments, charges that aren't yours, collection notices that are more than seven years old. If you find errors, contact the creditor and the reporting bureau to clear your record.
* Pay your bills on time: "It's one of the best things you can do: Pay on time and at least make the minimum payment," said Bradley Graham, product management director for FICO.com in San Rafael, Calif.
* Limit what you owe: It's obvious advice, but the lower your monthly balance, the better off your credit looks. For instance, if you have a $10,000 credit limit, but typically only keep a $2,000 balance, you've got a huge chunk of unused available credit. That's a plus in a lender's eyes.
* Don't apply too often: Every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, it's called an "inquiry." And too many inquiries in a short period of time can be a red flag on your credit score.
* Avoid closing accounts: If you've got unused credit cards or those that carry a low balance, keeping them open can help your credit score.