How to Use a Credit Card to Raise Your Credit Score

Be smart about using your credit card by following these 5 easy tips for saving money and building excellent credit.

Laura Adams, MBA
2-minute read

How to Use a Credit Card to Raise Your Credit Score

A podcast listener named Jenny asks:

I’ll be graduating from college soon and just got my first credit card. How can I use it to actually raise my credit score?


Using a credit card strategically is an easy way to raise your credit score.

Follow these 5 tips to save money and build excellent credit:

Tip #1: Make Payments on Time

One of the most important factors in how credit scores are calculated is whether you pay your financial obligations on time. So always pay your bills, loans, and credit cards before the due dates every month.

Tip #2: Use Your Card Regularly

If you don’t use a credit card, it can be canceled for inactivity. A good rule of thumb is to make at least one small charge every few months.

Tip #3: Don’t Cancel a Card

You shouldn’t have more credit cards than you need; however, don’t be too quick to close an account. Shutting down an account increases your utilization ratio, or the amount of debt you have relative to your available credit.

To boost your credit scores, keep your credit card debt below 30% of your available credit limits.

Tip #4: Don’t Max Out Your Card

Never rack up a credit card balance that approaches or exceeds your available credit limit because it hikes your utilization ratio. Additionally, you may charged an over-limit fee if you agreed to it when you accepted the card’s terms.

Tip #5: Don’t Co-Sign for a Card

Co-signing a credit card with someone means that you’re responsible for all the debt on the account even if the other party can’t pay their share or they die. The account’s payment history is reported on both of your credit reports, which means your credit can be hurt by a co-signer if they abuse a card.

For 3 smart strategies to raise your credit score fast, be sure to download the Credit Score Survival Kit. This free multimedia resource will help you fast-track your credit success.

To learn much more about how to manage your credit and debt, be sure to grab a copy of Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich. Get it from your favorite book retailer as a paperback or ebook.

Credit Sign courtesy of Shutterstock

About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.