how can i improve my credit, and why is it bad?

im 25 andmy credit score is around 550 i believe wich is horrible but im not sure why. i dont have much credit history, but a few years back i got a dept. store card with only a $ 100 limit to build credit. somehow i screwed that up and had a number of late payments on my $ 15 minimums LOL. i finally paid that off and now i have a $ 550 limit capitolone card wich was over around 700 until i dropped it now to around $ 378 on the balance. so how do i get my credit up and why is it so bad even tho i have very little debt?

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