While the spring homebuying season is still far away, if you’re trying to improve your credit score, now is the time to start. Starting in the spring would be way too late.

Danny Gardner, Freddie Mac vice president of single-family affordable lending and access to credit, published a blog on six easy steps to build credit.

“Whether you're hoping to buy a home in spring 2016 or looking further out, here are six steps you can take between now and then to help build and maintain good credit,” said Gardner.

Here’s a preview:

1. Use credit cards carefully

Credit cards are convenient and easy to use, but using them recklessly can hurt your credit. If you allow your credit cards to reach high, unpaid balances, they can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest alone. On the other hand, if you pay them in full and on time each month, credit cards can help you build excellent credit and reap the benefits that follow.

Take this quick quiz on HousingWire to see how well you understand your credit score.  

As it stands, a significant number of Americans are confused when it comes to what does and does not get reported to national credit bureaus. According to a survey from TransUnion, for example, 48% of respondents assumed their rental payments are regularly reported to credit bureaus yet many landlords don’t. 

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