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Steps Toward a Strong Credit Score

Establishing good credit is an important step on the road to success. Even if you are not looking to purchase a house to live in, strong credit is a must to lease an apartment in the Tampa Bay area. Fortunately, there are simple ways get started down right path or repair a credit history that may have seen some bumps along the way.

  • Open a bank account. Even if you don't have a credit history, building a relationship with your bank can make it easier to qualify for a low-limit or secured credit card. Local businesses and department stores usually have more lenient acceptance policies than the major servicing firms and often offer incentives, such a percentage off your first purchase.
  • Consider a "same as cash" purchase. Many stores offer programs that advertise easy, no-interest credit on purchases that are paid in full within a set amount of time. Remember that if you miss a payment or fail to fulfill the terms of the agreement within the specified period, all of the interest accrued over the life of the loan will become due.
  • Pay on time. Many credit card companies now allow you to choose your due date. Choose wisely. Consistently paying your credit card bills on or before the due date is one of the best ways to build good credit.
  • Use credit wisely. Once you've established a credit history, you'll probably be inundated with credit card offers. Applying for cards you don't need or have no intention of using will look like a mountain of potential debt to future lenders.

Be Proactive in Monitoring Credit

After you've gone through all the hard work to establish a healthy credit history, it's important to take an active role in monitoring your credit score. Many people who pay their bills regularly are surprised to find that they have unexpected blemishes on their credit report. Some of these are simple accounting errors, but others are more serious – the results of identity theft or fraud. Don't let bad credit take you by surprise. Obtain a free copy of your credit report by annualcreditreport.com and examine it carefully for inconsistencies.

Take Action

Consumer credit reports come with simple instructions on how to dispute inaccurate reporting. Many unsuspecting consumers fall prey to credit repair clinics that promise to improve your credit score for a fee. In reality, these services do nothing more than you can do yourself by contacting the agencies and reporting disputed charges. Signing up for a credit monitoring service can provide you with helpful tips and forms to make repairing your credit score painless, and you'll be notified immediately if any changes are made.

While inaccurate or fraudulently reported information can be removed from your credit history, actual late payments, defaults or bankruptcies cannot. However, it's never too late to start again. Making prompt payments and spending within your means can help you repair a damaged credit score, probably in less time than you think.

The housing market in Tampa Bay over the last several years left many people with damaged credit. Apartment Hunters hopes you can use these recommendations to gain the financial freedom that in enhanced with a high credit rating.