9 Easy Strategies Designed to Boost your Credit Score
Your credit score may only be three digits long, but it’s one of the most important numbers in your life.
From applying for a credit card, loan or mortgage to getting a job, there are so many essential life events that rely on you having good credit.
If your credit is less than stellar, there’s no time to lose - here’s how you can boost your FICO score, starting right now.
9 ways to improve your credit score
1. Check your credit report regularly
You’re entitled to a free credit report every year. Get yours at annualcreditreport.com.
2. Dispute errors on your credit report with the credit bureaus
Once you check your credit report, look out for errors like incorrect balances, debt that you’ve settled which is listed as unpaid, or errors in your personal information.
You can report these errors to TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax which are the three main credit bureaus.
3. Know the date when your issuer reports payment history
Contact your credit card issuer and ask them when they report your payment and balance history to the credit bureaus.
You’ll want to make sure that your credit balance is as low as possible on the reporting date.
4. Keep your credit utilization low
Your credit utilization rate is the percentage of your credit limit that you’re currently using - and it should be 30% or less to help boost your credit score.
A 30% utilization rate would be $3,000 on a $10,000 limit, or $750 on a $2,500 limit.
5. Make extra payments
To keep your credit utilization down - especially around your monthly reporting date - you’ll want to make extra payments each month.
It’s best to make one payment around two weeks before the reporting date and an extra payment a week or so after the date.
6. Increase your credit limits
If you’re short of cash and can’t see yourself reducing your credit utilization to 30% by paying down your debt right now, there’s another option.
You can increase your credit limits and your utilization will drop automatically - as long as you don’t spend any more on your card.
It’s worth noting that this approach works best if you have a good payment history.
If you’ve skipped payments and then request a limit increase, your card issuer may think you’re in financial trouble and actually decrease your limits.
7. Don’t close your credit card accounts - even if you don’t use them
Once you’ve paid down the balance on your cards to below 30% - or even close to zero - don’t cancel them. Your credit accounts contribute to your credit history and can boost your FICO score.
If you’re worried about spending on your credit card, you can always cut up the physical card and keep the account open.
8. Keep your credit mix diverse
Having a mix of credit including credit cards, loans, auto loans, and a mortgage while managing them well can boost your FICO score by up to 10%.
Taking out a low-interest loan and paying it off effectively can give your credit score a push in the long run - but note that your score may drop temporarily after the loan is approved.
9. Never miss a payment
Missed payments appear on your credit history and reduce your credit score, and they are totally avoidable.
- Set a reminder for your payments or use the autopay function so you won’t have to worry about missed payments again.
How Do They Calculate The Credit Score?
The credit bureaus calculate your credit score by taking the following factors into consideration:
- Your payment history is the most important factor that goes into calculating your credit score (35%).
- The amount you owe (your credit utilization rate) is also very important at 30%.
- The length of your credit history counts 15% toward your score - that’s why we advise that you keep those unused credit cards open.
- Finally, your mix of credit accounts and the amount of new credit - those are accounts you’ve opened recently - count 10% each.
To increase your credit score, it’s important to keep your credit usage low and never skip a payment - that covers 65% of your score. It’s also important to keep your accounts open, have a diverse mix of credit, and not apply for too many new credit accounts all at once.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Credit Score
By following the tips in this article, you’ll see an improvement in your credit score - but how soon?
It takes anything from a few months to a year to push your credit score. The lower your score is the quicker you’ll see an improvement.