7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score in 2013

PHOTO: Credit cards

Newsflash!!! The dating world has been turned upside down yet again -- no, not by some new feature on Match.com, eHarmony, or Christian Mingle. But rather by that universal theoretical measuring stick of financial maturity: the credit score.

I came upon this fascinating story in the New York Times (though for a moment I thought I was reading a dating column in Cosmo). Apparently, the new normal now requires both sides of the dating equation to provide information heretofore considered sacrosanct except in economic transactions. It's no longer about getting a job, buying a house, car, cell phone or insurance, nor is it about renting an apartment, video, or getting an airplane ticket or hotel room in the coolest location in the world.

Today, it's about making your case by way of a number, and I'm not talking about that 1-10 ranking both revered and reviled by millions for decades. To put it plainly, if you want to score big, you need to have a serious score - a credit score, that is.

Forget the days of being the hottest guy or girl in the joint, the best dresser, the wittiest conversationalist, or someone who can simply captivate a room by showing up - that's so 2011.

More from Credit.com:

According to several interviews conducted by the Times, if you don't have the right score, you may well be shown the door.

No doubt most Americans are becoming more concerned with an approaching fiscal cliff -- either a personal one or the one brought to us compliments of those profiles in courage in Washington. For folks lucky to have a job, or the millions of people looking for one, there's growing concern about the financial stability of our personal partnerships.

Forget all that Master (or Mistress) of the Universe stuff. The moment you bring another onboard your love boat, you are no longer the captain of your personal ship. While your credit may be impeccable and spending/saving habits exemplary, unbeknownst to you, the love of your life might be bobbing in turbulent waters, desperately in need of Ashton Kutcher in a Coast Guard wetsuit. If there is no rescue, the new love of your life might sink your ship of dreams in a matter of months.

So, as you explore all those old prickly issues (who gets which side of the bed, whether to have children, whether to be a partyer or a homebody, etc.), men and women are acknowledging that the battle of the sexes has expanded to include credit scores.

But wait, exactly which score are we talking about? There's FICO, Vantage, Experian, and a myriad of others used and created by lenders to help them make a decision. If we are judging another by his or her score, we should at least agree on the score, right?

Jokes aside, why get fixated on an algorithm at all? Think of it as less a code and more like a guideline (my thanks to "Pirates of the Caribbean" for that concept). As a credit expert, I suggest it's most important to focus on the report that underlies the score.

A credit score is primary a tool to be used to alert you to any material changes in that report as it rises and falls... hopefully more of the former than the latter. It can also be used to match you to financial products you are most likely to qualify for. (You can use Credit.com's free Credit Report Card to get your free credit scores, as well as an overview of your credit standing in general.)

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