Improving your credit score is a great idea – if you do it the right way.

While taking the right steps to increase your credit rating will result in better interest rates on loans and better offers from credit card companies, there are a few techniques consumers like to try that always end up being a waste of time.

If you want to give your credit rating a boost this holiday season, make sure to avoid these ineffective maneuvers.

Explaining past dings on your credit report

Technically, you’re allowed to issue official statements on your credit score that are displayed every time a creditor opens up your file. This has led a handful of consumers to think that it’s a good idea to offer an itemized explanation of their credit history to anyone who inquires. While this might seem like a good way to convince lenders and card issuers that you’re trustworthy, we promise you that it isn’t. Lenders don’t really care why you missed three monthly payments last year, even if you do have a compelling reason. Instead of wasting your time explaining the dings on your credit score, focus on improving the score itself to show financial institutions that you really have changed for the better.

Closing open accounts

Your credit history is an important factor in determining your credit score. If you close an open credit card, even if you think you have too many, you’ll alter that history and lower your score for a period of time, especially if that card has a balance on it when you cancel it. Unless you have six or more credit cards open in your name, it’s better to store unwanted cards in an area where they can’t be used – like your freezer or a jar of peanut butter – until you secure the loan you’re after.

Opening new credit cards

Closing an open credit card is bad for your credit rating, but opening a new line of credit when you already have a balance on others is even worse. Every time you apply for a new credit card you’re forcing a hard inquiry into your credit score that will lower it by about 30 points. This ding will stay on your rating for at least half a year and could cost you thousands of dollars in interest when applying for a home or auto loan. As a result, you should avoid things like credit card balance transfers and taking out retailer credit cards for discounts.

Putting more money in the bank

It’s a common misconception that the amount of money you have in your savings or checking account is a factor in determining your credit score. Unfortunately, since your credit rating only gauges your history of borrowing and repayment, the money you have in the bank doesn’t matter. That said, it’s always a good idea to keep your savings and checking accounts healthy.

If you really want to improve your credit score, you need to focus on the things that really matter. While none of these techniques will do much for your rating, paying off your bills and using your credit card responsibly definitely will. If you’re worried that your financial history has rendered your credit rating un-fixable, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling today for a consultation on how you can pay off your debts and bring your portfolio back to life.