How high can it go? Juicing Your Credit Score

Your true credit score is your FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score. Creditors with scores of 760+ have access to the best rates. To get your FICO score, you'll need to request your credit report from each of the three main credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The average of these three FICO scores is your real FICO number.

Pulling up a low credit score is a long, painstaking process of paying your bills on time, building equity and repaying debt. It takes years, and there are few shortcuts. However, there are a couple of things you can do to juice your score.

  • Check your credit reports for errors: 25 to 85 percent of credit reports contain mistakes [source: CBS]. Finding and reporting mistakes to the bureau (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) that is reporting the incorrect information can jumpstart your credit score.
  • Keep a low credit utilization rate: A $2,000 balance on a $10,000 limit card equals a 20 percent credit utilization rate. This looks a lot better on your credit report than a card that is maxed out. To lower your utilization rate, pay down your credit cards or call and request a credit line increase.

If your credit score stresses you out, turn improving it into a game, the same way you turned cost-cutting into a fun, family activity. And speaking of cost-cutting, we hinted earlier about free online tools to help you save -- get the details on the next page.