Q: I am interested in raising my credit score. Based on your recent article, I now understand it is in my best interest to keep the credit accounts I have had the longest open.

But, I have several gas cards and department store cards. Would it be in my best interest to eliminate a certain group of credit, such as gas cards or department store cards?

A: If you want to raise your credit score, then you’ll want to keep your credit cards open as long as possible. Unless you absolutely have to close an account, you’re better off keeping it open.

If you feel as though you have too many lines of credit open (which can also be a negative when it comes to your credit score), then pull a copy of your credit history at www.annualcreditreport.com and see which accounts have been opened the longest.

Keep the oldest accounts open and then close some of the others in writing. You’ll want to make sure that any balances on the card are paid off before you close the account (or you’ll wind up trashing your credit history unnecessarily).

In general, it doesn’t hurt you to have a couple of gas cards and a department store card. What really hurts is when you don’t pay your bills on time.

July 18, 2006.