Pay off or pay down?: How to improve your credit score

Free credit reports can be obtained through the Federal Trade Commission

Credit Cards Generic

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Credit score plays a huge role in our lives, and if yours isn’t in good standing, your chances of getting a home or car loan are at risk.

But it’s not just purchases that are impacted. Credit scores have far reaching impacts.

Consumer Reports says the biggest thing you can do to improve your credit score is make monthly payments on time.


About thirty five percent of your FICO credit score is based on how well you make on time payments. If you make a credit-card payment 30 days late, your FICO score could drop by as much as 100 points.

Even if you can only make the minimum payment, it’s still better than nothing.

So what about credit cards that you’re finally able to pay off? Experts say to hold off on cutting those cards up and closing that account.

“Keep your borrowing to ten percent of what your total line of credit is. Don’t throw away your cards. Don’t close your cards. Just put them in a drawer and maybe use them occasionally so the credit card company knows it is still an active account,” said Tobie Stanger, senior editor Consumer Reports.

Fixing a poor credit score can happen, it just takes time. The first step is to know what your credit score is. Every consumer is entitled to a free credit report through the Federal Trade Commission.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said credit scores can affect your employment status. Employers cannot see your credit score, although they can request a credit report. WKBN regrets the error.

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