Debt has become a modern pandemic in today’s economically struggling age. Countries, large and small businesses, and consumers have collectively accrued trillions of dollars worth of debt over the recent century. What is even more alarming is the fact that economists and analysts predict these numbers are not final and that debt will continue to increase in astonishing rates for the next years to come.

With consumers being more of a liability than they are an asset, banks and lending institutions nowadays have reinforced more stringent mortgage and credit card policies to protect themselves. One of these policies is FICO scoring, which is a method used by lending firms to determine the eligibility of a borrower. If the borrower is able to maintain a good FICO score, he/she will have no problems with applying for a loan or credit card and vice versa for those with bad credit.

So, how do you improve or at the very least maintain a creditworthy FICO score? There are many ways to achieve this. For starters, you should keep your credit card balance at minimum at all times. While unlimited credit does sound appealing for many, especially for shopaholics, it tends to increase your risk of going overboard with monthly expenses, which inherently affect your credit card statements.

By minimizing your balance that you carry on a monthly basis, can help to protect your FICO score. Consider spending cash that is at hand and expendable. Do not use money that is intended for a specific expenditure, such as monthly utility bills or car insurance premiums.

Another way to improve your FICO score is to pay credit on time. Late payments are also a common catalyst for low FICO scores. Make sure to organize all your monthly expenses and address them ahead of time. Last minute payments not only affect your credit score but are also stressful situations that should be avoided at all times.

Add an installment loan to your credit portfolio. You will get the speediest restoration of your credit score if you show you are trustworthy with both major types of credit cards and installment loans. Go for a small personal loan you are confident to pay back right on time. This improves your creditworthiness from a lending firm’s perspective.

Check your limits regularly. Your FICO score may drop if your lender is displaying a lower limit than what you actually have. Majority of credit card providers will be happy to provide this information upon your request. If, however, you are signed up with an issuer with a “no preset spending limit” card, authorities may use your highest balance amount as the proxy for your maximum credit.

Build a good relationship with your lender and establish goodwill. If you have been a consistently good and responsible borrower, negotiations to “forgive and forget” one late payment from your credit history may be open. A written request may be necessary for a goodwill approval.

Avoid the common credit pitfalls that most borrowers make. This includes asking a creditor to reduce your credit limit, making late payments, consolidating your credit accounts, and applying for new credit when you already have a plethora that is actively being used.