Having credit is as essential as taking a road trip around the island with your closest friends: a must.

Want to buy a car, rent your first apartment, or finance the cell phone you’ve long waited for? You need to have good credit, the higher your score, the better.

Here are some simple tips to keep your credit in optimal condition:

1. Keep your payment history at 100%

Your payment history represents 35% of your overall score — it’s the most important factor. However, in our daily hustle and bustle, we may miss the payment deadline by a day or two.

Many financial institutions grant a grace period of several days before reporting this negative activity to the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). But if your payment is overdue for 30 days or more, your account may be classified as delinquent on your credit report.

This negative mark or activity can remain on your report for up to seven years and lower your score significantly. That’s why paying your bills on time should be a top priority.

A practically effortless way to achieve this is by scheduling your payments1 in Mi Banco. This tool allows you to automate payments to more than 5,000 businesses, meaning you’ll never miss a due date again.

2. Use your cards - but keep an eye on your balances

Making purchases with your credit cards has many advantages. For example, access to exclusive offers, rewards, points accrual, and “welcome bonuses”. But using the full monthly limit can affect your credit utilization ratio, which accounts for 30% of your score.

To avoid affecting this portion of your credit, it is crucial to keep your card balances and other lines of credit low.

Platea x Popular Tip: As a rule, balances should be kept below 30% of your credit.

For example, if your card has a limit of $1,000, your balance should not exceed $300 monthly.

If possible, pay your statement balance every month. This way you’ll keep your credit in optimal condition while saving money on interests. Activating Mi Banco Alerts2 can prove quite helpful. This feature will send automatic notifications of all account transactions, helping you keep track of how much you’re spending per month.

3. Take advantage of your subscriptions and other non-traditional accounts

Typically, only accounts such as credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and others are reported to the credit agencies. However, utility payments such as water, electricity, and telephone, as well as your Netflix, Hulu, or Max subscriptions are never reflected.

Services like Experian Boost can help you improve your credit almost instantly —free of charge— by allowing these non-traditional accounts to count towards your score. You can also talk to your landlord or property manager and have them report these payments to the credit bureaus to increase your score if you don’t have a mortgage. However, remember to make all service payments on time.

4. Consolidate your debts

If you have a good credit score (670 or higher) and have several credit cards, you may be able to apply for a personal loan to consolidate your debts.

Platea x Popular Tip: At Popular, personal loans³ have fixed interest rates for the term you choose.

By consolidating your credit cards—especially those from stores that usually have high interest rates—with a personal loan, you not only have the potential to save money on interest, but also to get out of debt in two to three years.

5. Monitor your credit

A recent study4 revealed that more than one-third of consumers have errors on their credit reports. They range from incorrect balances to accounts that are not even theirs. Quite often, these errors are not corrected until the consumer becomes aware and reports them to the credit agencies.

Errors can affect your credit. That’s why you should monitor your credit frequently to make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

To get a free copy of your report with each of the credit bureaus, visit AnnualCreditReport.com.

Although these copies will not show your current score, they will contain all your credit accounts and balances. Review them carefully and verify that everything is in order.

Closer to your financial goals

These practices can help you improve your credit every day. If you want to explore more resources, continue browsing our Future Me page.