Don’t close credit cards you aren’t using.
Though this tip may sound illogical, it can actually help you improve your score. “When you close a credit card, the credit you have available declines,” Chatzky explains. Need to boost your credit score ASAP? Chatzky says one of the quickest ways to boost your credit score is to request an increase in an existing credit line instead and then not use it.
Keep old accounts active.
Length of payment history counts for about 15 percent of your credit score. So long-term accounts with consistent on-time payment records can help add points to your credit score. And closing them can have the opposite effect, influencing your length of payment history and total credit limit (which can adversely affect your debt utilization ratio). Keep accounts open and in use: Some issuers will close an account or stop reporting it to the credit bureaus if it remains inactive for too long, warns Jennifer Lee, a spokeswoman for Credit Karma. Hardekopf recommends making a small purchase every month or so and paying it off in its entirety to keep accounts, and credit, intact.
Mix it up.
Your credit mix determines 10 percent of your credit score. “Credit scoring companies like to see that you have the ability to pay off a car loan, utilities, student loans, and maybe eventually a mortgage,” notes Chatzky. Or, at least, make consistent monthly payments on each. Doing so shows that you can manage different types of loans and payments responsibly.
Editors' Note: You can get your credit report for free once a year from each of the three main reporting agencies through https://www.annualcreditreport.com. (Scores are not included, but may be obtained for a fee.)