A strong credit rating is desirable for many reasons. It encourages lenders to approve your loan applications for a car, a new home, or a vacation, for example. A good score also keeps pesky bill collectors away. If your credit rating could be better, here are four ways to raise your credit score in 2015.

Pay bills on time.

Probably the most important way to get a good credit score is by paying bills when they are due. Keep an eye on the due-dates as bills come in, and make sure you make a payment before it comes due, remembering that mailed payments may take a few days to arrive and be processed.

Let creditors know if you will pay late.

Sometimes circumstances make a late payment or even a missed payment unavoidable. When this happens, contact the credit before the due-date to explain the situation. Chances are a note will be posted to your account so that your credit isn’t affected. Just be sure to resume regular payments on time as promised.

Avoid new debt.

Don’t open up more credit accounts unless it becomes necessary. Generally, credit can be avoided by paying with cash or check and following a budget. Credit cards used for unnecessary items like restaurant meals, travel, or hobbies should be avoided.

Use credit appropriately.

While making monthly payments on your current debt, try to pay a little extra to eliminate accounts with smaller balances. As they get paid in full, apply that payment amount to another credit card, along with its regular payment, to increase the amount paid toward the balance each month. Soon you can eliminate all credit balances. However, even after paying off your credit cards, you should keep one or two lines of credit open for emergency use as well as to maintain a good credit standing. Having no credit cards may be interpreted as being a bad credit risk.

Check credit reports for errors.

Anyone can get free credit reports and score ranking by requesting them. When you receive the reports, review them carefully to make sure they are accurate and up-to-date. If you find discrepancies, report them immediately. Check your credit standing each year, keeping in mind that possible creditors will be checking it when you apply for a loan or credit card.

Improving your credit scores is not difficult. Following a few basic steps like these will keep it in good shape for when you really need credit.