Saving money is a common New Year's resolution, and an easy way to ensure that happens could simply be to increase your credit score.
When you have a good score, which is a reflection of your credit report, banks and lenders are more inclined to trust you. That means you may have access to better credit cards and loan rates, as well as lower security deposits and insurance rates.
Commonly used FICO scores range from around 300 to 850. If you have a score of 700 or above, you're at least in the "good" range, meaning you're considered prime and will typically qualify for a loan.
An excellent score of around 750 or above will get you the best rates, while anything below around 650 is considered problematic. When it comes to paying off your mortgage, NerdWallet found that an excellent score will save you more than $10,000 in interest over 30 years, compared to a score of 680.
The average score hit 704 this year, an all-time high, but if your score has room to improve, industry experts have some tips on how you can increase it in the new year.
"The most important things are to pay your bills on time — every time! — and keep your debts low," CreditCards.com analyst Ted Rossman tells CNBC Make It.
Missing a deadline may seem harmless enough, but it has a surprisingly significant impact. Rod Griffin, director of consumer education and awareness at Experian, says paying late is the No. 1 reason people's scores drop. After all, a late payment can remain on your report for years.
"Time is a critical factor in credit scores," Griffin tells CNBC Make It. "There is no quick fix."
And it's not just credit card payments you have to worry about. Rent, utilities and other bills can make or break your score, too.
You should also aim to keep your balances low, experts say. And the best way to do that is to pay off debt and spend less on your cards.
As a rule, you should try to keep your utilization rate, which represents your balances relative to your overall credit limit, below 30 percent, but if you can get it lower that's even better.
In calculating your score, FICO also looks at the types of credit you have, how often you apply for new credit and your length of credit history. Indeed, if you just got your first credit card and you're starting to build credit for the first time, it may take a couple of years for your score to reach the "prime" range.
"Credit scores are used for a lot more reasons than people realize," Griffin says. So be sure to check your score regularly and take a responsible approach to how you're swiping.
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