MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: Keeping up with your credit score

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Do you know your credit score? Many people don't, but if that number drops below 700, it could be costing you more than you know.

The higher your score, the better your rates... and the more money you can save.

If you want to buy a house, refinance, purchase a car, apply for a job, or even just get a date - your credit score can have a profound effect on your success.

Financial advisor Douglas Alexander educates his clients on how to get their scores up.

"You first want to check your credit score on an annual basis," said Alexander.

If you are the victim of identity theft, this is where you catch it - you can do that for free through 1 in 5 people have credit report errors.

"Dispute it, check it. Make sure it is your problem and not somebody else's," said Alexander.

Second tip - it's worth the effort to correct errors like late payments, charge-offs or collections, or credit limits that are reported as lower than they really are.

"It's always on our shoulders, not theirs, because it's our credit, not theirs that's at stake here," said Alexander.

Third - watch your ratio. Ideally, you want to be using less than 10% of your available credit.

"If the credit card scoring companies don't see that you're using your credit all the way to the limit, that helps you with your score," said Alexander.

If you are using more, work on paying it down. One way to do that is to make micropayments throughout the month. Racking up big bills on your credit cards can hurt your score - even if you pay them off each month!

"Landlord might be concerned that you won't be able to pay your bill," said Alexander.

Fourth - try to limit your charges to 30% of a card's limit. You can set up text or email alerts with your credit card company to help you keep track.

Final piece of advice - you can also boost your credit score by keeping cards active. The older your credit history, the better. If you stop using a card, the card issuer may stop reporting it to the credit bureaus.

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