Whether you’re trying to buy a home or apply for a new job, your credit score impacts many different areas of your life. Your FICO credit score will range anywhere from 300 to 850 and the higher your score is, the better.
But what if your score is lower than you would like due to previous financial mistakes you made? Unfortunately, there’s no way to improve your credit score overnight. But by making good financial choices, it is possible to quickly improve your credit score.
Interested in learning more? Keep reading or check out Crediful’s Ultimate Guide to Credit Repair.
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
With a little time and effort, you can raise your credit score and improve your financial situation dramatically. Here are seven easy ways to boost your credit score.
1. Monitor your credit report
If your credit score is lower than you would like, it could be because inaccurate items are dragging it down. According to the FTC, 5% of consumers have at least one error on their credit report.
You’re entitled to receive one free copy of your credit report each year. So before you do anything else, contact the three major credit bureaus and ask for a copy of your report. You can do this at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Once you have all three reports, review them carefully for errors. If the report does contain inaccurate information, you should dispute these charges immediately.
You should also keep an eye out for outdated collections items that haven’t been removed from your report. Legally, these items can only stay on your credit report for seven years. So if it’s been longer than that, you can request to have these items removed.
Your credit utilization rate is the amount of credit you’ve spent in comparison to your total credit limit. Let’s say you have one credit card and your credit limit is $1,000. If you’ve already spent $800, then your credit utilization rate for that card is 80%.
This matter because your FICO score is calculated using these five categories:
- Payment history: 35%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
One-third of your credit score is determined by the amount you currently owe. So if you’ve taken out multiple credit cards and all of them are maxed out, this is going to hurt your score.
A high credit utilization rate tells lenders that you’re at a greater risk for default. So one of the best ways to quickly improve your score is by paying down old balances to lower your credit utilization rate.
3. Become an authorized user
Individuals who are trying to repair their credit often find themselves in a difficult situation. You need to borrow money to improve your credit score but no one wants to lend you money if your credit score is too low.
There is a way around this and it’s called becoming an authorized user on another person’s credit card account. You get to take advantage of that person’s excellent credit while you repair your FICO score. This allows you to improve your credit almost instantly.
However, anyone that lets you become an authorized user on their card is doing you a huge favor. So use the card wisely and don’t do anything that could damage that person’s credit.
4. Increase your credit limit
One strategy for improving your credit utilization rate is to ask your lender for a credit limit increase. Increasing your $1,000 credit limit to $2,000 is an easy way to immediately improve your credit utilization rate. You may find that your lender routinely increases your credit limit without you even needing to ask.
However, this strategy only works if you don’t spend any additional money. Increasing your credit limit only to max out the card again won’t help you in the long run.
5. Pay down installment loans
This article talks a lot about managing credit card debt but most consumers have some type of installment loan as well. Whether this is an auto loan or student loan debt, paying down these balances is another great way to improve your credit score.
6. Don’t close out old credit cards
If you’re in the process of paying down credit card debt, you may be tempted to close out your cards once they’re paid off. After all, if the card is closed, you can’t spend any more money on it.
But you should always think twice before closing out old credit cards because this can hurt your credit. Even if you never use that card, just leaving it open could help you improve your credit score.
The only time it makes sense to consider closing credit cards you don’t use is if the card is costing you money in annual fees. Otherwise, leave the account open and just don’t put any money on the card.
7. Make sure you pay your bills on time
If you want to improve your credit score, you need to make sure you pay all of your bills on time. Most of your efforts will be wasted if you routinely miss payments or pay your bills late.
Paying your bills late makes you look unreliable and like a risky investment for lenders. And this doesn’t just apply to your installment loans or credit cards. If you routinely pay your utilities or your phone bill late, this will hurt your credit score.
How long does it take to raise your credit score?
Ultimately, the length of time it takes to raise your credit score depends on why your credit score is so low in the first place. If your score is low because you have a limited credit history, you could raise your score very quickly.
However, if your credit score is low because you defaulted on a loan or have excessive debt, this is going to take a lot longer to work out. The best place to start is by assessing where you’re currently at.
If your high credit utilization rate is the problem, then you may want to start by focusing on paying down your current balances. If you’re trying to build credit, you may want to try becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account.
And finally, if you have items on your credit report that you can’t seem to get removed no matter what you do, it may be worth your while to contact a credit repair company. These are professionals who know the best strategies for tackling debt repair.
This route will cost you some money but depending on your situation, it may be worth your while. If you’re interested in pursuing this, check out our #1 rated company here.