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How can I improve my credit score?

While it's true that filing for bankruptcy has an impact on your credit score, it's often the right decision for people who are faced with a massive amount of debt they won't be able to pay off. However, once you've got a handle on your financial situation you'll want to take steps to improve your credit score. Experian explains how you can do just that, which is integral to rebuilding your financial future. 

In general, a bankruptcy will remain on your credit score for seven to ten years. While that may seem like a daunting period of time, the best course of action is to pay all of your bills on time each month for the duration. If you're approved for chapter 13, make sure you stay on top of your payment plan and don't lag behind on other commitments, such as monthly utility bills, mortgage, or rent. This prevents new items from damaging your score, which will only make it dip lower than before. 

You should also take steps to have a healthy credit utilization ratio. This is the total of all credit card balances divided by the total credit limit. If you have a ratio higher than 30%, work on pay down credit card bills until the percentage lowers. If possible, try to pay off your credit card debt in full each month. This will also help you avoid interest costs, which can be quite expensive. 

There are other steps you can take when it comes to credit cards. Once you've paid off a card, don't close it. While this may seem like the fiscally responsible thing to do, doing so may actually increase the credit utilization ratio and damage your score. Also, once you're in a good place financially, refrain from opening too many new credit cards. This causes an inquiry on your credit score, which also has a negative effect. 

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