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September 13, 2022

Have you ever wondered how to improve your credit score or build one from scratch? It’s easier than you might think. Whether your goal is to create a credit score or improve a less-than-stellar score, we’ll cover a few steps you can start with today.

There are two different types of credit scores: FICO and Vantage. Both scores provide a picture of your financial history including credit scores, length of history, credit usage, and any recent activity like hard inquiries such as loan or credit card applications. However, FICO and Vantage score things differently. FICO has been around longer than Vantage and many banks and lenders still favor it over Vantage scores.

The FICO credit score is one thing that factors into determining your creditworthiness for loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc. However, like all lenders, we also look at your overall financial history.

FICO scores range between 300 and 850. According to the FICO scale, a good credit score starts at 670, but the higher your score is above this, the better. Higher scores often qualify for better interest rates, saving you a ton of money from interest payments on mortgages, loans, or credit cards.

If you’re unsure what your credit score is, consider enrolling in our digital banking service. You’ll gain free access to My Credit Score, which provides credit monitoring and information on how to improve your score.

If your credit history contains some blemishes resulting in a lower score, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

Pay Down Debt

There are many ways to raise your credit score and paying down debt is one of them. When you pay down debt, your debtors report payments periodically to the credit bureaus. It might be monthly or quarterly, so remain patient.

There are two standard methods of debt repayment: the debt snowball and the debt avalanche.

Debt Snowball

The debt snowball focuses on listing your outstanding debts from least to greatest and paying them off in that order. You build momentum by adding the last debt payment to the next debt in line until you’ve paid off all debt. The snowball method gives you small wins against debt along the way, which motivates you to finish. However, higher interest rates continue to compound on more significant obligations until you pay them off.

Debt Avalanche

The debt avalanche focuses on paying off higher interest debt first and lower interest debt last. The goal is to reduce the amount you pay in interest by paying off higher interest bills first. While you’ll undoubtedly save on interest, it’ll also take longer before you see much progress, especially if you have a lot of different debt. So, the organization of your debt changes.

Set Up Payment Reminders

Payment reminders might not seem like a way to improve your credit score, but they are. Late and missed payments lower your score. Your debtor reports each late or missed payment to the credit bureaus. When your credit score is updated, your new score reflects activity, including late and missed payments. Your credit score can drop by as much as 100 points or more depending on how late your payment is.

Pay More Than Once Per Billing Cycle

It’s no secret that paying down debt boosts your credit score and one great way to do this is to pay more than once per billing cycle. This method works exceptionally well for compounding interest debt, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages. Interest compounds each cycle based on the current amount due. The more you lower the debt, the less interest you’ll pay. Each additional payment positively affects your credit score, too.

Know Your Credit Utilization Ratio

How much credit have you used? Credit utilization plays a significant role in your credit score, especially if you hope to qualify for credit or lending in the future. Maxing out a credit line spells bad news for your credit score.

Aim to use no more than 30% of your credit line. If you have a credit line of $9,000, use no more than $3,000.

Consider Refinancing

Refinancing does more than improve your interest rate or payment terms. It can also help you manage your credit score if it prevents you from defaulting on your loan.

Weigh your options and talk with one of our professionals to get the answers to any questions before proceeding. Sometimes a refinance makes sense, and other times it doesn’t. Our goal is to help you make the most informed decision for the best possible outcome.

Apply for a Secured Credit Card

Building a credit score from scratch isn’t always easy. One way to start is with a low-credit limit credit card that some refer to as a credit builder or secured credit card. The credit limit is usually only a few hundred dollars, but showing responsible use will help you establish a good credit history over time.

Stay on top of all payments, ensuring you make each payment on time, and you’ll be on your way to building an excellent credit history.


Building a credit score from scratch or improving one with blemishes takes time, so remain patient. Follow the tips above, and you’ll be well on your way.