Your credit score is kind of like that step counter on your phone – if you don’t like how low the number is, you might just avoid checking up on it. But it doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, knowing where you stand is the first step towards taking control of your score.
Your credit score is typically a number between 300 and 900 that’s based on how you’ve used credit in the past. The higher the number, the better: lenders look at it to get a sense of how likely you are to meet your end of the bargain when it comes to important financial agreements.
Once you know your number, checking in on your progress can become a habit – especially when you see it rising. (Tip: you can use our free Credit Keeper®1 tool to keep tabs on it.) Here are four super straightforward ways to build your credit score.
Be mindful about applying for new credit products.
Credit products aren’t trading cards – you don’t have to collect ’em all. And did you know that even applying can trigger a hard hit on your credit report?
So before committing to something new, crunch those numbers to figure out your debt-to-income ratio – how much of your monthly gross income (what you make before taxes) goes towards paying off debts. While every lender is different, carrying 34 cents of debt for every dollar you make is a pretty good guideline, according to Credit Canada. If you earn $3,000 a month, ideally you don’t want to pay more than $1,020 in fixed debt (as in regular bills like housing expenses and loan payments) every month.
Another tip is to use Quick Check®2 to find out which Capital One credit cards you’ll be approved for before you apply without impacting your credit score. Since the credit card eligibility tool steers you towards the product you’ll be approved for, you’ll only take that hard hit on a card you know you’re going to get.
Use an app to track your finances.
Next time you’re on that phone break, why not take a second to peek at your credit activity? Most credit cards let you monitor your transactions on an app, so you can casually follow your finances the way you follow your Likes.
Many apps – including the Capital One app – allow you to check your transactions, available credit, payment due dates and other account details.
Set up alerts for what you care about most – think purchase approvals, payment reminders and a heads up when your statement is available.
What’s your number?
Again, follow your credit score’s progress with Credit Keeper1 – it doesn’t hurt to check it whenever you like. Capital One cardholders can also enjoy these benefits and more by signing up for online banking.
Keep up with your bills.
Attacking that stack of bills is a huge part of winning at credit. Paying your bills on time and paying more than your minimum payment (when possible) can help you boost that number. If you find it hard to remember when your payments are coming up, you might want to set up automatic payments for recurring bills like your phone, internet, utilities and streaming services.
Tip: If you have a Capital One credit card, you can set up mobile alerts for your payment due dates – paying off this bill in full every month is a great way to help raise your credit score.
Carry less debt.
One thing credit scoring models look at is your utilization rate – as in, how much of your total available credit you’re using. Leaving some breathing space between your balance and your credit limit across all of your lending products is one thing you can do to help improve your score. And we can always help you stick to those spending goals: you can set up an alert to let you know you’re getting close to your limit if you have a Capital One credit card.
By applying these good credit habits, you should be able to boost your credit score. By limiting your products, knowing what’s up with your credit, making your payments on time and keeping your balance low, your credit score can go up, up, up – bringing you closer to reaching your goals.
1 The credit score and report information provided by Credit Keeper is intended for educational purposes only. Lenders and other commercial users may use a different type of credit score and other information when making credit decisions. Credit Keeper is currently not available to residents of Quebec.
2 Conditions and limitations apply.