A low credit score can stand in the way of buying a house or a new car, even getting a new job.
So, if your score is in the dumps, Consumer Reports offers ways to give it a boost.
Depending on the reasons for a low credit score, it can take months or years to raise a low score to a good score in the 700 range. It also takes discipline.
One of the most important things to do is to pay all your bills on time, which accounts for about 35% of the FICO score, the most common credit scoring system.
Consumer Reports said if you have credit cards, try to keep your balances to no more than 10 percent of your available credit. Anything more could show elevated credit risk.
"Another tip is to consider taking out a personal loan to pay your credit card debt. Plus you may get a lower rate of interest with the loan. Having a greater variety of credit types might help your credit score," said CR money editor Tobie Stanger.
If you can't get a traditional credit card because of credit history, a secured credit card is another option.
The secured credit card typically requires a deposit to protect the issuer. Make timely payments and your credit score could improve.
And finally, request a free credit report once a year from each of the three reporting agencies -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- to monitor your progress and spot any errors.
To obtain the report, click here to visit AnnualCreditReport.com.