When you decide to buy a home, you’re deciding to take on a mortgage, a large loan with rates that are directly dependent on how well you show you’re able to handle your finances. Your credit score, and report, are important to have as clean as possible when asking a bank for such a sizable sum of money. Here are some tips on improving your score so that you get the best possible interest rate on the mortgage loan you take out.

Look it up.

You will need to check with each credit bureau for a full report about your credit and borrowing history. There are many sites available that allow you to check your credit report from each of the three reporting agencies – but don’t worry, these reports are free to you once a year and checking it once every 12 months won’t affect your score.

This will be the most accurate picture of who your creditors are, your history of payments (whether they’ve been on time or late), the amounts of loans you’ve taken out in the past as well as the limits on credit cards you currently have, and the amounts you’ve used on those. Knowing where you stand with your credit is imperative for obtaining a home loan.

You should look over these reports in detail to make sure there’s nothing incorrect about your history. If there is, you will need to dispute the error to the credit bureau that it is reported under so the information can be removed. You should check your credit report well in advance as it can take up to 45 days for the removal of the error to reflect on your report.

Start making changes.

So, your credit score isn’t perfect – that’s okay, as long as you try to fix it as soon as possible. A bank doesn’t want to give someone money if they know they’re not going to be paid back. Start by sorting out who your creditors are, how much you owe, and make a plan for paying those debts off. Avoid late payments and try to pay more than the minimum to pay off current debts faster.

Ask For More.

Request a higher credit limit from your credit card companies. This may seem counter intuitive but a sizable portion of your credit score comes from your allowance versus your used credit. It’s important to a bank to see that you owe less than 10% than what you’re allowed to borrow. So, if you have a limit of $1,000 and have purchased $750 on that credit card, the bank sees that you’ve used 75% of your allotted credit; therefore, they will be led to believe that you may keep your debts high and your payments minimal. If you contact your credit card companies with a request for a higher credit limit and keep your purchases low, the banks will see that you don’t borrow as much as someone is willing to let you – a healthy credit habit.

Keep It Up.

Once you’ve got all that down, maintain your payments. Be sure to stay on top of keeping track of your payments and make them on time. If you can start being mindful of purchasing only essentials to help heal your credit score, that’s a great practice to hold when preparing to take on a mortgage. Consider setting up automatic payments to help keep every credit card and loan payment on time.

Don’t forget that it takes time to heal a credit score. Keep on top of these tips to help show that you’re responsible with your money. Soon enough you’ll have the loan you need to purchase the home you want.