When it comes to cultivating a credit score, you’ve probably got the good citizen routine down cold.
You pay on time, try to wipe out the entire balance every month and never close too many accounts at once.
Beyond the basics, though, many consumers are still in the dark about what makes their credit scores go up and down.
“We have had so many people over the years who don’t understand what goes into a credit score,” says Dave Jones, president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. “They just live with the old wives’ tales.”
Consumers understand that the credit utilization ratio — the total amount of revolving credit someone uses in a month, compared to the amount of available credit they have — is a major factor in calculating a score.
But did you know that it’s often calculated from the total on the statement date, not the due date? So even if you pay balances in full every month, a card issuer may report a balance. And that can hurt your credit score.
Here are five ways you can use that bit of knowledge, along with some other expert know-how, to boost your credit rating.
Read more: 5 uncommon ways to raise your credit score