ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – A three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, can play a big role when you purchase a home, a vehicle, or even a cell phone. Companies use credit scores to determine what interest rate, credit limit, or promotional deal to give you.

Nathan Grant, the finance analyst for MoneyTips, further explained, “Basically, it’s a relationship between a credit cardholder and the credit card issuer and is a relationship of trust. If you’re borrowing, money the better the relationship is — the better your standing is in that relationship — the better your future credit can be.”

Grant said regardless of your current credit score there is always room for improvement.

He said, “Obviously, paying off debt is going to save your money. But also having a good payment history is a huge part of what goes into your credit score, especially if you’re avoiding late payments and you have that good history. So you obviously want to pay down your debt. And another big factor that relates to the debt itself is what’s called your credit utilization. That’s basically the percentage of your overall available credit that you’re using. The higher that percentage, the worse it’s going to be for your credit score. So it kind of goes hand-in-hand. While you’re paying off your credit card debt, you’re lowering that percentage and that helps increase your credit score.”

Grant discourages people from closing an account once the credit card is paid off. If that credit card is in good standing and has a good payment history, all of that history will be deleted once the account is closed. That will increase the person’s credit utilization, negatively impacting their credit score. He recommends that once paid off, the credit card is put away so it’s not tempting to use.

If you do have a negative mark on your credit report, Grant said it never hurts to contact the credit card company to see if it can be removed. He said, “Obviously if you have made a late payment.. that’s your responsibility. But if it’s your first time, it’s definitely worth calling and trying to see if you can get that one removed — or at least prevented from being sent to your credit report. “It never hurts to ask.”

Grant said what’s most important is to avoid late payments and avoid having accounts moved to collections because that will really damage your credit score. And when it comes to credit repair companies, Grant said, “None of those companies are doing anything that you can’t do yourself. So a lot of times it does just start with contacting your issuer, trying to work things out.”