Your credit score will always be the most important number in your life. It determines if you can qualify for credit and what rate you get and it could even get you or cost you a job. Because of its importance, you need to take care of this little number.
Luckily, it is not as hard as you think to improve your credit score. It is just math, there is no magic to it. Your credit score is simply a formula that takes various things into consideration.
If your score has seen better days, we can help. Take a look at 6 ways that you can start improving that credit score.
1) Check Your Report For Errors
First, lets do something easy and simply check your report for errors. It is very common for mistakes to happen. A creditor could have reported something incorrect about you or someone else’s bad credit information could have ended up on your report. It happens all of the time which is why you should check your credit often.
You can pull one credit report for free from each credit reporting agency. Be sure to get a report from each one, do not assume that they will all be the same. You need to get your report from Equifax, Transunion and Experian.
Once you have your reports, you can dispute anything that is false. Send a dispute letter to the bureau with the account in question identified. They then have 30 days to investigate the information. If the creditor can prove that it is real, it stays on your report. If they can not prove the information is accurate, it must be removed.
2) Decrease The Credit You Are Using
Credit utilization is the term used for the amount of your credit that you are using. If you have 1000 dollars in credit and are using 400 dollars of it, you have a credit utilization of 40 percent.
The less of your credit that you are using, the better your score will be. If you are currently using over 30 percent of your available credit, getting that number down will greatly improve your score.
To be considered to have good credit utilization, you should be using less than 30 percent of your credit. To be considered to have excellent credit utilization, you need to get that number below 10 percent.
If you have a lot of credit card debt, getting your balances can seem like an impossible task but you can do it. Take all of your credit card accounts and pay the minimum on all but the one with the highest interest rate. With that card, you will pay as much as you can and continue doing it until it is paid off.
When it is paid off, switch to the next highest interest and do the same. Eventually you will get there and you will see credit score increases along the way. It is not an all or nothing thing. You will see increases in your score as you head towards that magical 30 percent number.
Keep in mind that you should not close a card after you pay it off. If there is no annual fee, keep the card open. Closing it would decrease your available credit and harm your score.
3) Pay Those Bills
Nearly a third of your credit score is your bill payment history. If you want a strong credit score, it is crucial that you pay your bills on time.
If you have missed a few payments in the past, don’t give up. It will take some time but your score will gradually increase as time goes by and you make payments on time.
Assuming that you have the money to pay your bills, use every tool at your disposal to make sure that those payments get made. Use automatic bill payments, bill reminder emails and even bill reminder texts to make sure that your obligations get met .
If you are missing payments because you do not have the money, you need to redo your budget. Sit down, write out all of your bills and then see where cuts can be made.
4) Get A New Credit Card
In some instances, getting more credit can actually increase your credit score. This, of course, assumes that you get the card but do not use it.
Simply getting a new cad will increase your available credit. That will in turn, decrease your credit utilization and could result in an increase in your score.
When applying for new credit, do your research on cards. Choose one that you are likely to get accepted for and that does not have an annual fee. The last thing that you would want to do is to have to submit a bunch of applications and get dinged with multiple inquiries.
5) Avoid Inquiries
Although a minor part of your credit score, inquiries are still a factor. Multiple inquiries can cause your score to drop a few points. Usually it is not a significant amount, but with credit, every point matters.
Another thing to consider with inquiries is that some creditors will consider them when deciding to issue credit. Even if your score is decent, you could be denied credit due to the fact that you have been applying for credit with multiple companies. It makes you look like you are in financial trouble and could be a warning sign.
6) Have A Little Patience
Keep in mind that with credit, you are running a marathon, not a sprint. If your score is a little rough, it will take some time to get things back in order. Creditors need to see that you are handling your finances well over time.
It could take a year or even years to get your credit in order. Stay on the path though and you will be rewarded with small increases along the way.