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How can you improve your credit score?

Layoffs. High unemployment rates. Everywhere you turn, money – or lack of it – is in the news. What are some steps you can take to maximize what you have and plan for the future?
   In these times of financial uncertainty, a credit card can be a safeguard in case of a financial emergency. But having access to credit depends in large part on  your FICO credit score. Those ads with the singing pirate-waiters have a point – it’s important that your score is good. So what can you do to keep your credit healthy? Most experts agree on a few tips:

• Pay off debt – don’t just move it around. The lower  your debt, the better.
• Don’t close accounts as a strategy to improve your score – unless you are unable to resist using all available credit, in which case you shouldn’t have credit cards at all.
• Don’t open a lot of new accounts quickly – that has a negative effect on your score.
• Check your credit regularly and make sure it’s accurate. If there are mistakes, address them immediately with the credit bureau.

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