Maintaining a strong credit score isn’t complicated.

Yet, so many individuals face complications and setbacks in building a respectable credit rating.

They may be missing out because good credit pays.

It can mean the difference between an excellent mortgage rate and one that slows down savings. Good credit also means having the financial power to take on unexpected costs.

If you’ve been challenged by your credit score, here are seven easy strategies to boost your financial standing so you can fully take advantage of the benefits:

Know how it works
You’ve already taken a huge step toward getting back on track.

Education on how credit reporting works and the mechanisms that create a credit score will go a long way.

Understanding how credit scores are determined will help you improve your own score.

Credit balance
As a rule of thumb, try not to use more than 40% of your credit capacity.

Yes, you’ll want to spend credit, but it’s very important to not max out.

Build your credit the smart way by keeping your debt-to-credit ratio in check.

Ask for a raise
A credit raise, that is.

When you request to expand your credit limit, you can boost your debt-to-credit ratio without having to pay down debt.

This is a great way to make an impact on your credit standing — but the lender will only extend credit increases to exemplary borrowers.

Set up auto payment
And never be late on your credit bill again.

For many consumers, payment history is one of the most important criteria for earning a higher score.

That is why it’s important to never miss a payment, even if you only send the minimum amount.

A small payment is far better than a nonpayment. So always remember to make your payment and begin to build your credit score by focusing on the basics.

Leave accounts open
As tempting as it might be to close an unused account, it’s best to keep it open.

Canceling credit cards can actually have a negative side effect on your credit score — even if you’re closing it because you just paid it off.

The decrease in credit spending power will increase your debt-to-credit ratio.

Use secured credit card
If you are building credit, you may not get approved for a credit card right away.

A secured credit card, which works like a gift card, is an alternative and transitional tool into credit.

Your deposit will act as your credit limit and the activity can be reported to the credit bureaus.

Consolidate debt
Sometimes, the interest rate on your credit card will be exceptionally high.

You can use a personal loan to transfer your high-interest debt to an arrangement that’s more manageable.

By consolidating your credit in this way, you can earn a boost to your credit score and save money by paying less on interest.