3 Credit Moves Everyone Should Make at Least Once a Year

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Don't let these tasks fall by the wayside.

Maintaining a good credit score is crucial if you want to be able to borrow affordably. A good credit score can also open up other doors, such as helping you rent an apartment or get a job if your landlord or potential employer does a credit check.

To make sure you're staying on top of issues related to your credit, there are three credit tasks you should put on your to-do list so you can complete them at least once per year. Here's what they are.

1. Review your credit report

Your credit report is a detailed record of all of your credit accounts including credit cards, mortgage loans, personal loans, and any other debt you've taken on. The credit line available to you, amount of credit used, and monthly payment record all show up on your credit report.

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You'll want to check this report at least once a year, if not more often. Checking your credit report can help you ensure there are no errors on the account or accounts that you don't recognize -- which could be a sign that you've been the victim of identity theft.

You can also get a good idea as to whether you'll be an attractive customer for lenders to do business with. A steady, on-time payment record; a long history of open accounts; and a credit utilization ratio below 30% will help you earn a good credit score. But late payments, using too much of your available credit, or a short credit history could hurt your score.

2. Check your credit card rewards program

You'll also want to do at least an annual review of your credit card rewards program. Specifically, you'll want to pay attention to whether you're earning a reasonable amount of rewards, whether the bonus categories on your card still match your spending habits, whether you've used the rewards you earned, and whether the card's perks are still useful to you.

If your card has an annual fee, it's especially important to make sure that fee is justified by the card's feature and rewards program -- especially with free options out there.

The goal of reviewing your rewards program is to see if your card is still a good fit. If you aren't earning many rewards and there are better card offers out there, or if you aren't using the rewards you did earn, then a switch to a new card could be called for.

3. Make or review your debt payoff plan

If you owe money on any of your debts, you should review how much your interest rate and monthly payments are, as well as any plans you have for paying down what you owe.

Some loans, such as mortgages, have affordable interest rates, and paying them off early doesn't necessarily make sense. But if you have high-interest credit cards or other expensive debt, you may want to prioritize paying it off and work extra payments into your budget.

By reviewing these three major credit issues, you can make sure that you aren't paying more than necessary for your debt, that you don't end up with damaged credit, and that you are making the most of your card's rewards program. All three of these things will help your finances in the long run.

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