04/30/2012 11:04 am ET

Five Spring Cleaning for Your Credit Score

Winter is long gone; summer is just around the corner. It's that time of year when we stretch our legs from winter hibernation, open up the windows, plant our gardens, and do a thorough spring cleaning throughout the house. There's something so inspiring and invigorating about a spring cleaning -- as if we're getting a fresh start on the year.

It's also a good time to remember to do a spring cleaning for your credit score. Just like our homes, our credit reports can start to get a little dusty from winter hibernation.

Here are five steps for you to take to spring clean your credit score!

1. Dust off those credit cards. Pull out the credit cards you haven't used in a while and make sure you use them. This helps to keep your accounts current because creditors like to see active usage of your loans and credit. (Bonus tip: If you keep forgetting to use those old credit cards, why not mark your calendar with a note to yourself about which credit card to use that month, and rotate your cards each month?)

2. Prune back those credit card balances. Get those credit card balances down below 20 percent of your maximum credit limit. This is a healthy zone of credit card usage. (Deep cleanse tip: If you're getting a tax refund this year, why not use that infusion of cash to help get your credit card debt down -- your credit score will thank you!)

3. Pull out your credit reports. Get your credit reports from all three reporting agencies and review each one to make sure that the information is accurate. Highlight any errors and concerns and use that as a "to-do" list for the rest of your spring cleaning! (Deep cleanse tip: Use for the fastest, easiest way to get your credit reports and credit scores).

4. Sweep up the errors. Immediately dispute any incorrect information on your credit reports by contacting the reporting agencies and alerting them to the error. (Deep cleanse tip: It's easy to watch for incorrect address information or accounts. However, you should also look closer to make sure that balances are correct and on-time payments have been correctly reported).

5. Get organized. Review your credit score improvement plan (or create one!) to make sure that your bills will be paid on time and that you use all of your credit cards throughout the year. (Deep cleanse tip: Remember that good credit is easier to maintain than it is to get back so the more prepared you are to manage good credit, the better).

We've hibernated all winter and now it's time to throw open those windows and let the spring sun shine in! And if your credit score is also feeling dusty from a winter of neglect, it's time to add some sunlight and elbow grease to your credit reports to fix up your credit score for summer!

Contact Jeanne with credit questions at