Your credit score is a little number that tells a big story. Those three digits can prevent you from getting a home loan, apartment lease, vehicle loan or even a job. The higher your credit score, the healthier your financial situation is. Lenders prefer a score of at least 690, and many look for something even better. If you’re in the fair range between 630 and 689 or you’re lingering at 629 or below, you’re in a dangerous situation.

Your credit report is a more detailed document that may give a lender deeper insight into your financial habits. While the credit score is simply a number based on a complex calculation, your credit report tells a more in-depth story. Items on your report go back seven years, so it’s important to think ahead when you’re managing your finances. Missing those credit-card payments in your early 20s may continue to haunt you till you’re 30 or older. Smart decisions now will set you up for a financial future with easy loan acceptance and better interest rates.

If your credit score isn’t where you want it to be, there are several ways you can improve it if you’re mindful of your actions. Increasing your credit limit will lower your ratio of debt to available credit. Lenders look for utilization of 30 percent or lower. However, increasing your credit limit only to charge more on your cards will do more harm than good. HealthIQ can help you brush up on your knowledge of your credit score and history so you can make the best choices possible going forward.