How to improve your credit score

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Q. I want to improve my credit score and remove some things from my credit report. Where do I begin?
— Borrower

A. We’re glad you want to improve your credit score.

The most important things you can do to improve your score is to make payments on time and avoid high credit utilization ratios.

That’s because borrowing lots of your available credit is bad for your score, said Beverly Harzog, a consumer credit expert and bestselling author.

You’re smart to want to get rid of negative marks on your credit reports.

First, to dispute items, be sure you have current copies of your credit reports from You can get a free report once a year from each credit bureau.

Keep in mind that each report might be different, so look at each one carefully, Harzog said.

Then you’ll need to contact each credit bureau to dispute an item.

“Your letter should be clear about which item you are disputing and why it is incorrect,” she said. “The bureaus have 30 days to investigate your dispute. You will get the results in writing as well as a copy of the report(s) if a change has been made.”

You can get a sample dispute letter and step-by-step instructions on the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

“Removing items from your credit report does sometime improve your score, but it depends on the nature of those items,” she said.

That why those on-time payments and not overusing your available credit is so important.

Email your questions to .

This post was first published in January 2018. presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.