NEW YORK (MainStreet) Once your credit takes a hit, bringing up those three little numbers in your credit score may seem like an impossibility, but with a dedicated plan of action you can get back on the road to 850 in no time. Our experts weigh in on the top five ways to rebuild your credit score, one smart move at a time.
1. Pay your bills on time
A track record of paying your bills on time is the highest-weighted element of your credit score, at 35%, says Gail Cunningham, director of media relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. When you pay your bills promptly, it sends a signal to the future lender that you manage your money responsibly, Cunningham says .
"As long as you've got a job and money coming in, paying your bills on time should be one of the easiest things to knock out, and people often forget that," Cunningham reminds.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who have money on hand to pay their bills either procrastinate until they are overdue or are so unorganized that they misplace important statements.
"Going to the mailbox and stuffing your bills above the sun visor in your car or in the bottom of your purse doesn't count as paying your bills," she says. "Too many of us know that horrified feeling of finding an old bill and realizing it's way past the due date."
If you have a long history of being unorganized with your bills, Cunningham suggests fixing the problem with automatic bill pay online.
"Fix it once and for all using technology," she says. "Set up automatic payments each month so that when you do have those 'uh-oh' moments, it's not going to mean a hefty late fee or a negative notation on your credit report."
2. Establish a savings account and/or emergency fund