How do I get and keep a good credit score?

 Answer: To get and keep a good credit score, first pay your bills on time.

There are no secrets to building a strong credit score, but following these guidelines should help:

  • Pay your bills on time, every time.  One way to make sure your payments are on time is to set up automatic payments, or set up electronic reminders.  If you’ve missed payments, get current and stay current.
  • Don’t get close to your credit limit.  Credit scoring models look at how close you are to being “maxed out,” so try to keep your balances low in proportion to your overall credit limit. Experts advise keeping your use of credit at no more than 30 percent of your total credit limit.
    Note: You don’t need to revolve on credit cards to get a good score.  Paying off the balance each month helps get you the best scores.
  • A long credit history will help your score.  Credit scores are based on experience over time.  The more experience you have with getting credit and paying your bills on time, the more information there is to determine whether you are a good credit risk.
  • Only apply for credit that you need.  Credit scores look at your recent credit activity as an indicator of your need for credit.  If you apply for a lot of credit over a short period of time, it may appear to lenders that your economic circumstances have changed negatively.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency built to protect consumers. Our free resources help you have the information you need to make informed financial decisions.