4. Pay Off Big Credit Card Balances
If you racked up debt during the holiday season, paying it down in the new year can improve your score. "One of the fastest ways to bump up your credit scores is to reduce balances on credit cards," said Gerri Detweiler, education director for Nav, a credit resource for businesses.
Detweiler said debt usage accounts for up to a third of your credit score. "Some consumers can see their credit scores improve by 10 to 50 points or more in as little as a month just by reducing their balances," she said.
Credit-scoring models compare the balances on your lines of credit to your credit limits. Detweiler said consumers with the best scores tend to use less than 10 percent of their available credit.
Did you get a big tax refund in 2017? If so, it is an indicator that you might find extra cash in your budget in 2018 to pay down credit card debt. A refund signals that you let Uncle Sam withhold too much in taxes during the year. To adjust your withholding, file a new W-4 form with your employer to claim more allowances.
If you received the average refund of $2,763 in 2017, adjusting your withholding could add about $200 to your bottom line each month in 2018.