These days any major buying decision which involves seeking a loan of some sort such as one for a house or a car involves a credit-based decision. The lender will look at the credit history of the person and gauge whether the credit score makes this person a good candidate for the loan. These days even employers are looking at credit scores. I personally dont think there is a great relationship between spending habits and job performance but employers and other credit companies are using this tool for the same purpose – reduce risk.
Now that you understand that being aware of your credit scores is important. It is even more important to take the necessary steps to boost your credit score as much and as quickly as possible:
1) Keep non-mortgage debt under 10% of credit lines
This is probably the hardest step in achieving those top scores in the 800+ range. In the past I had a score in early 700's. I had the usual credit profile consisting of a mortgage, credit card debt and some other forms of debt (eg car loans and home equity line of credit). After a while I paid down all the debt except for the mortgage. What affect do you think that had on my credit rating score? In about a month of paying down all debt, my score was averaging around 800 from the 3 credit bureaus. While it isn't always possible to pay down your entire debt. As long as you keep your debt at less than 10% of your total credit line your scores will greatly benefit.
2) Borrow credit (also known as piggybacking)
This used to be a popular technique a couple of years ago. When I mentioned this to a few people recently they said that hadn't heard of it. This strategy is very simple to implement. For this you will need the help of a family member or any friend who has excellent credit and who trusts you. So, what do you do? You ask them to add you as an authorized user to one of their oldest credit cards or accounts. The ideal number for this strategy to work is two or three accounts. Why does this work? When you are added to someone else's credit account you are in essence also inheriting their credit history. This works wonders for boosting your credit score and it works fast (within 30-60 days).
There are a bunch of other tips and tricks that you can use to raise your credit score.