If you’re concerned your credit score isn’t up to snuff, you may be looking for a few simple ways to raise it.
If you maintain a healthy credit score, you’ll gain access to the best credit cards and the lowest interest rates, and you won’t be denied financing for large purchases such as auto loans or home mortgages (at least based on credit score alone).
But how do you raise your credit score and actually maintain it?
Well, there are a number of practical, simple ways to attain a high credit score and keep it that way. But remember, there is no automatic, easy way to raise a credit score. Below are a few useful tips on “how to raise your credit score:”
Pay All Bills on Time
The first step to achieving a high credit score is to pay all your bills on time. It’s a simple rule, but one many borrowers seem to grapple with for one reason or another. There are no excuses for a late payment. Make your payments on time and your credit score will thank you.
This is by far the best and easiest way to raise your credit score. After all, the immensely popular FICO score algorithm relies heaviest on payment history.
Of course, this method takes time, and the longer you make on-time payments, the more your credit score will benefit. Conversely, missed payments can sink your credit score in a hurry.
Increase Your Available Credit
Another lesser known method to raise your credit score is to raise your available credit limits. Suppose you have 2 credit cards, one with a $2,000 limit and another with a $3,000 limit. And assume you have a balance of $1,000 on the first card and $1,500 on the second card.
Card A: $1,000 balance – $2,000 limit
Card B: $1,500 balance – $3,000 limit
In the above example, you’d be using $2,500 of $5,000 available, or 50% of your available credit. If you contact your creditors, either via their website or by phone, and ask for a credit line increase, they’ll more than likely oblige.
Say you ask for a credit line increase on both and they raise Card A to $4,000 and Card B to $6,000. You’d now have $10,000 combined credit, and still only $2,500 used. That would raise your available credit to 75%. And more the available credit you have, the higher your credit score. Obviously a bank or creditor would be more willing to lend to someone with more room to spend than someone that is nearly maxed out on their existing cards.
Keep in mind that you usually can’t raise your credit limits until your card has been open at least six months, and your credit score may temporarily drop as a result of the new credit request, so don’t try this if you’re attempting to raise your credit score in a short period of time.
Pay Down Debt
Along the same lines, another way to raise those credit scores is to pay down debt. Keep your debts low, but your credit cards open and active and your score will go up. The less debt you have and the more available credit, the better you look to potential creditors.
You may hear people tell you to cut up your credit cards or close your accounts. But if you do this, you’ll lose those lines of available credit, which will raise your credit utilization.
Sure, you might not need/use those accounts, but imagine if you close two credit cards, and drop your total credit from $50,000 to $25,000. You’re total available credit will drop fast, and so will your credit score. So always keep credit cards open and active.
How Can I Improve My Credit Score Fast? It Takes Time…
It seems we all want things to happen overnight, but when it comes to credit, the process can be pretty slow; and aggravating as a result.
That ties into another important tip. Credit depth and history play an important role, so keeping your cards open for a long period of time provides history, and multiple cards or loans provide depth. If you open three credit cards in a month with no previous credit history, most banks or lenders will deny you any serious credit. Banks and lenders want to see your habits through time, not in the last month. You need to prove yourself, just as you would on a job resume.
But if you want to improve your credit score fast, there are some options available, one being rapid rescoring. Of course, that costs money and should only be reserved for times when you really a quick boost.
These services will ensure the credit bureaus know about any changes immediately (they may also help you determine what moves you should make to increase your credit score to begin with).
By immediately, it’s usually a span of 24-72 hours, depending on the company you use.
Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee you’ll get the desired results you’re looking for, so tread with caution here. The same goes for those so-called credit repair companies that promise to raise your credit score overnight. Take them with a huge grain of salt.
The problem with credit scoring is that it’s got a bit of a time delay because once the credit bureaus receive information from your creditors, which can take weeks, it must be processed and factored into your overall credit history.
This can take time (it varies among bureaus), so even if you make positive changes to your credit profile, they may not immediately be reflected in your score (hence the variation among your three credit scores).
Take, for example, paying down a high balance; this is generally a smart credit move, but the credit bureaus may not find out about it until your next billing cycle, and it won’t be reflected in your credit score until some time after that.
If you’re making moves like this in the hopes of getting a quick credit score boost, it could all be lost if you don’t have ample time for it to be processed.
Even if you choose to execute some credit report disputes, perhaps to remove some erroneous items from your credit history, it will still take time. In fact, disputes only work WITH time, and give creditors a full 30 days to respond to your inquiry before they have to remove any unproven credit score dings.
So that method can also take quite a bit of time, and may not be the best move if you need an immediate boost.
Aside from these tips, it’s recommended that you order a free credit report at Annualcreditreport.com and review it for any possible errors, collections, charge-offs, or late payments. Just note that these reports don’t contain a free credit score.
If anything seems to be reporting in error, you can dispute it with the particular creditor and see that it gets corrected. Collections and charge-offs can kill your credit score, so it’s essential to make sure there aren’t any instances of such things on your credit report.