SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

May 02, 2013 12:27 ET

BMO Harris Bank Financial Tip of the Week: Tips to Improve Your Credit Score

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwired - May 2, 2013) - As part of BMO Harris Bank's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and Making Money Make Sense, BMO Harris is providing weekly financial tips. This week's tip offers ways that may improve your credit score.

Just like a top football, basketball or hockey player is drafted based on their stats, your credit score is used to determine your financial fitness.

Your credit score is a strong indicator of ability to handle debt. It's based on several aspects of your financial picture and can help creditors determine if you're responsible with your money.

Improving your credit score in 2013 may be an easy way to improve your overall financial scorecard. Doing so may help you get approved for loans and lower your interest rates and insurance premiums.

The following steps may improve your credit score in 2013:

Pay on time. Payment history is one of the most important factors used to calculate your credit score, so consistently paying on time may be a way to boost your score if you have missed payments in the past. To help you pay on time, consider enrolling in an e-bill pay program that will make payments automatically on your behalf and guarantee they arrive on time.

Reduce debt-to-credit ratio. Focus on paying down the amount you owe on your credit cards so each one has an available credit of at least 50 percent. Doing so improves your debt-to-credit ratio and in turn may improve your credit score.

Use more than one type of credit. Your score is built around both revolving (ex. credit card) and installment (ex. mortgage loan) credit. Having both types in your credit history shows you can responsibly handle multiple kinds of credit, and in turn may improve your score.

Stick with the accounts you have. Opening new accounts just to increase available credit means new inquiries on your credit report, which may lower your score. On the other hand, avoid closing accounts you already have, even if you don't use them that often. Doing so can negatively impact your debt-to-credit ratio and credit history -- both of which are used to calculate your score.

Put yourself in a comfortable place and get started with helpful steps.

The Learning Center is brought to you by BMO Harris Bank, WGN, CLTV, WGN AM 1070, Chicago Tribune, RedEye and Hoy.

About BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank(SM) is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and $542 billion in assets (as of Jan. 31, 2013).

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