It is possible to get approved for a home loan with fairly poor credit, but you won’t get a low interest rate. If your credit is below 580, you’ll also need a larger down payment. Basically, it’s better to start working on your credit now, so your score can be as high as possible when you apply for a loan and make an offer on a home.

5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score to Buy a Home

1. Make Payments On-time

One payment made 30 days late can greatly impact your credit score, sometimes by as much as 100 points even if your other accounts are all paid on time. If you aren’t good at remembering to pay on time, you aren’t alone. But don’t let this ruin your score. Set up automatic payments or schedule payment reminders in your smartphone. The credit reporting agencies don’t care why you are late, and late payments can remain on your credit report for years. If you do make a payment late, and it is for extenuating circumstances, see if you can get it removed. Some companies won’t report to a credit agency until you are over 30 days late, but if you are late for a non-emergent reason, you may have difficulty getting a lender to remove the event. Make sure you are polite.

2. Pay the Balance on Everything Possible

If you are paying everything on-time, but your credit score isn’t improving, it could be because of your balances. Your balances should only be using a certain percentage of your available credit. Generally speaking, you only want to be using 30 percent of your available credit, so pay down some credit cards, and watch your scores rise.

3. Sign Up for a Credit Score Alerts

One of the scariest things about credit is that you don’t know what your score is unless you check. That is why it is so important to sign up for alerts. This way, you’ll see if your score drastically changes, and you can take action as soon as possible if there is an error or if someone steals your identity.

4. Check Your Bank Account Regularly

Being financially aware can help to improve your credit score by ensuring you have enough money in the bank to cover expenses. Look at your bank account daily. This way, you’ll see and understand any erroneous charges. You’ll also see any subscription services that you may not be using anymore, so you can save money.

5. Set Up a Savings Account

Lastly, keep at least three months of expenses in a savings account. If you have your identity stolen, and your checking account is hacked, you could be in a lot of hot water while you wait for it to be resolved. If it is caught early, a bank or credit card company might reverse the charges within a couple weeks, but that savings account will keep you from missing any payments or overdrawing your account.