Raise your hand if you were one of the millions of people who promised yourself you’d only use your credit cards for an emergency. Everyone who read this just raised their hand, and that’s because no one takes on a line of credit with the intent of falling into debt. It happens, though and then it’s all downhill unless you take the steps to fix your credit score. Here’s how you can do it.

If you are struggling to make the payments on your current mortgage, consider looking into the option of loan modification. In many cases a lender may be able to lower the interest rate that you had initially agreed on. This process used to be just for homes that were in danger of foreclosure but many lenders are now extending this service to many others.

Resist the grace periods that credit cards may offer you if you’re trying to fix your credit. It may be tempting to be able to skip payments, but it’s not a good idea. A history of regularly paying off your balances is vital to a good credit record. Pay at least the minimum every month, and more if you can afford it.

Open and maintain around 2 to 4 different credit cards. It’s tempting to use less, but it will take a lot longer to rebuild your credit with only one account. Using more than 4 cards makes the impression that you aren’t managing your debt well. Keep your balances low on all of the accounts and keep them paid on time.

Your household bills are just as important to pay on time as any other credit source. When repairing your credit history be sure to maintain on time payments to utilities, mortgages or rent. If these are reported as late, it can have as much negative impact on your history as the positive things you are doing in your repairs.

Repairing your credit file can be difficult if you are opening new accounts or having your credit polled by creditors. Improvements to your credit rating take time, however, having new creditors check your standing will have an immediate impact on your rating. Avoid new accounts or checks to your history while you are improving your history.

As hard as it may be, use manners with debt collectors because having them on your side as you rebuild your credit will make a world of difference. We all know that catching flies works better with honey than vinegar and being polite or even friendly with creditors will pave the way to working with them later. Unless you are filing for bankruptcy and absolving these bills, you will need to have a good relationship with everyone involved in your finances.

At the end of the day, getting out of a bad credit situation is all about arming yourself with the proper information to do so. The net is riddled with misinformation and half-truths so heed this information wisely and use it to pull yourself up by the bootstraps so you can experience a life bereft of bad credit.