Maintaining a top notch credit score is essential for all consumers, even ones who do not foresee any immediate needs to obtain a loan.

Emergencies such as a broken air conditioner or a failed car battery often crop up when consumers least expect them. A high credit score can mitigate some of the pain of having to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars because the interest rate offered will be lower.

Lenders offer consumers with above average credit scores the best interest rates, sometimes as low as 0%.

A high credit score is the key for borrowers to ensure lower rates, which can save consumers thousands of dollars over the term of the debt. Here's a quick rundown of what the numbers mean - a score of anything below 620 ranks as poor, 620 to 699 is fair, 700 to 749 is good and anything over 750 is excellent.

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Consumers who retain higher credit scores have an "advantage when it comes to saving the most on interest rates and other mortgage fees," said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, a Washington, D.C-based non-profit organization.

Here are 12 tips to increasing your credit score:

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Editors' pick: Originally published June 13.