6 Steps to Fix Your Credit Score and Credit Card Debt So They Won’t Be An Embarrassment

PHOTO: Follow these steps to help improve your credit score and debt.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling conducted an unscientific—but eye opening—online poll, which revealed people are more embarrassed about their credit and debts than they are about their age or weight!

Granted, the poll was conducted via the foundation’s home page, so the people who come there are already worried about their debts, but still! Here’s how recipients responded about what embarrasses them most:

1. Credit card debt 37%

2. Credit score 30%

3. Weight 2%

4. Bank Balance 10%

5. None of the above 9%

6. Age 1%

“Excessive credit card debt should be seen as a warning sign that a person is in the financial danger zone,” said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC. She added that “Such activity is likely to negatively impact a person’s credit report and potentially result in a lower credit score.”

Here are my top three tips for reducing your debt and for raising your score… so you can get back to worrying about your weight!

To Reduce Your Credit Card Debt:

•Negotiate Your Rate: You can often get a lower interest rate on your credit card just by asking. That will allow you to pay off the debt more quickly and cheaply.

•Use savings to pay debt. Many people have a savings account AND credit card debt. Use the savings, earning an average of less than 1 percent, to pay off the cards, charging an average of 15.61 percent, according to bankrate.com.

•Pay the highest interest cards first. You want to get out from under the most expensive debts first —and that means not the ones that are the biggest, but the ones that have the highest interest rates.

To Raise Your Credit Score:

•Pay —and pay on time. The number one thing you can do to raise your score is to pay down any debts you have and make those payments on time, every time.

•Move your money around. One of the things that counts against you is having credit cards that are nearly maxed out. If you have some that are and others that aren’t, move some of the debt over, so that none of your card balances are near the limit.

•Ask creditors to delete one-time mistakes. If you’re usually quite responsible, but slipped up one time and paid late, ask the bank if it will delete that entry from your credit file. They have the power to do that—and will if it truly was a one-time blunder.

Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

Elisabeth Leamy is a 20-year consumer advocate for programs including "Good Morning America" and "The Dr. Oz Show." She is the author of Save BIG and The Savvy Consumer. Elisabeth is also a professional speaker, delivering talks nationwide on saving money, media relations, and career success. Elisabeth receives her best story tips from readers, so please connect with her via Facebook, Twitter or her website, to share your ideas.

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