Thursday, 7 December 2023
by Earn Media
Improving your credit is an excellent New Year’s resolution, but if you don’t have a solid plan in place, you’re not likely to achieve your goal. Yes, I know there’s a month left until 2024. It’s not too early to start laying the groundwork, though. Here are three things you can do right now that will enable you to get off to a running start in January.
Everyone is entitled to free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com. The site is a bit of a misnomer. Since the start of the pandemic, everyone now has access to free weekly credit reports. You can use these to get a baseline and to measure your progress over time.
You’ll have to answer some personal identification questions first, and then you’ll be able to view your reports from all three bureaus. They should list all the credit accounts currently open in your name, including your balance and payment history. Make sure all of this information is correct.
If you find anything that looks off, notify the credit bureau and the financial institution associated with the account immediately. Your identity may have been stolen. Tackling this is a key step in boosting your credit score.
Payment history is the most important factor in calculating your credit score. It’s crucial to make at least the minimum payment on time whenever possible. Keeping a list of these due dates and minimum payments can help you do this.
Having these details handy is also helpful if you hope to pay down debt in 2024. One popular strategy — the debt avalanche method — involves making the minimum payment on all your cards and then putting any extra cash you have on the card with the highest interest rate first. When that’s paid off, you move onto the card with the next-highest rate, and so on. If you plan to do this, you might want to track each card’s annual percentage rate (APR) and balance as well.
If you hope to open a new secured or balance transfer credit card to boost your credit in 2024, start comparing offers now. Take time to review all the cards’ fees and features. You should also look over the cardholder agreements, which you can find on the credit card issuers’ websites. If you have any questions, reach out to the card issuer for clarification.
You don’t have to apply for the card until 2024 if you’re not ready. But it might not hurt to start the process a little early. It takes time for the credit card issuer to review your application and send you your new card. If you do this right now, you’ll be ready to start charging things to it in early January, if not sooner.
You don’t have to do all these things at once. You could aim for just one a week if it feels like too much with the holidays. And if you don’t get time before 2024, that’s OK. Give them a closer look when life slows down a little. They won’t take long and they’ll give you a solid foundation you can build off of throughout 2024.
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