Remember that checking your own credit will not lower you score. Review your credit report for potential inaccuracies.
Make your payments on time. The best way to get on the road to a good credit score is to make at least the minimum payment on all debts on or before their due dates. A positive payment history weights the most heavily on how your credit score is calculated. If you are behind on any payments, do what you can to catch up, and stay current. Your late payments will remain a part of your credit history for several years--even if you pay off the accounts--but they'll weigh less heavily as time passes.
Pay Down Balances. Continually carrying high balances on revolving loans (loans that allow you to borrow and repay money as you need it) can negatively affect your score. This is because high balances can indicate a likelihood that you have over-extended yourself. Paying down these balances can increase your credit score and will allow you to save yourself money in interest charges as well.
Be patient. A good credit rating can not be established overnight. A portion of your credit score is calculated by reviewing the ages of your credit accounts. Try keeping revolving accounts open even after you have paid them off. Use them periodically but keep the balances low and pay them off quickly. Accounts that have been in good standing over a long period of time will reflect well on your score, as it indicates that you are able to handle credit responsibly over time.
How long will certain items remain on my credit file?
Delinquencies: A delinquency may remain on file for seven years; from the date of the initial missed payment
Collection Accounts: May remain seven years from the date of the initial missed payment that led to the collection (the original delinquency date). When a collection account is paid in full, it will be marked as a "paid collection" on the credit report.
Charge-off Accounts: When a delinquent account is sent to a collections company. This will remain for seven years from the date of the initial missed payment that led to the charge-off (the original delinquency date), even if payments are later made on the charge-off account.
Closed Accounts: Closed accounts are no longer available for further use and may or may not have a zero balance. Closed accounts with delinquencies remain for seven years from the date they are reported closed, whether by the creditor or by the consumer. However, the delinquency notation will be removed seven years after the delinquency occurred when pertaining to late payments. Positive closed accounts continue to be reported for ten years from the closing date.
Lost Credit Card: If there are no delinquencies, credit cards reported as lost will continue to be listed for two years from the date the creditor is contacted. Delinquent payments that occurred before the card was lost are reported for seven years.
Bankruptcy: Chapters 7, 11, and 12 will remain on one's credit report for ten years from the filing date. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is reported for seven years from the filing date. Accounts included in bankruptcy will remain for seven years from the date filed.
Judgments: Remain seven years from the date filed
City, County, State and Federal Tax Liens: Unpaid tax liens remain for fifteen years from the filing date. A paid tax lien will remain on one's score for 10 years from the date of payment.
Inquiries: Most inquiries listed on one's credit report will remain for two years. All inquiries must remain for a minimum of one year from the date the inquiry was made. Some inquiries, such as employment or pre-approved offers of credit, will show only on a personal credit report pulled by you.