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Having a healthy and robust credit score is an essential part of modern day financial life. Many milestones are dependent upon credit scores, from buying a new car to purchasing a first home. A strong credit score enables buyers to do these things with ease, allowing for better interest rates. Unfortunately, many consumers have had financial challenges in their lives and struggle with their current credit score. To improve your financial fitness, here are three ways to boost your credit score:

  1. Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is the amount of credit you use each month compared to how much credit you have available. For example, if you have $6,000 in available credit, but you have charged $3,000, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. Credit bureaus prefer to see a ratio of 30% or less. The primary way to lower your ratio is to pay down your credit card bills. In some instances (if you have just gotten a raise at work) you can request a credit line increase, which will also lower your ratio.

  1. Explore Non-Traditional Paths

There are several alternative routes to improving your credit score, such as asking your landlord to report on-time rent payments to the credit bureaus. Other nontraditional paths include taking out a credit builder loan through a credit union, which lets you pay off a certificate of deposit (CD) that is held by someone else. In addition to building your credit by paying off the CD, once it is paid off, the CD (plus interest) is returned to you. Micro-lending groups, in which all members contribute a set amount per month and rotate recipients, are another option for improving credit.

  1. Be Patient

Making timely payments for a considerable length of time, having a healthy credit utilization ratio, and having accounts open for a significant amount of time all contribute to a strong credit score. A mix of loan types (credit card, car, etc.) also helps and shows your trustworthiness. Using these methods and tactics takes time and patience, and each small step contributes to your overall financial goals.

A credit score in the “excellent” range is 750 or higher. Be patient with yourself as you steadily improve and know that with hard work and dedication, you can achieve all your financial goals.