Your credit score will determine whether you will get approved for credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, or other loans, as well as impact the interest rate you’ll pay. If you aren’t happy with where your credit score is today, take heart: There are some simple ways to improve it quickly. Once your credit score improves, you’ll be able to enjoy perks like lower interest and insurance rates.
Note that while these tips will help you raise your credit score quickly, be patient and remember that it can still take 30–60 days to see any noticeable improvement.
Credit Utilization Ratio
Your credit utilization ratio makes up 30% of your credit score. It’s the number that shows how much debt you have compared to your total available credit. The more unused credit you have available, the lower your ratio. For example, if the credit limit on all your cards total $10,000, but you owe $8,000, your credit utilization ratio is 80%. You’re using 80% of your credit. That’s pretty high — a ratio of 30% or less is ideal. There are three main ways to lower your credit utilization ratio.
1. Pay Down Your Debt
Using the above scenario, if you can pay down your debt from $8,000 to $5,000, then your ratio goes down to 50%. Once you lower your debt, your score will see a significant boost quickly.
2. Ask for a Credit Limit Increase
If you aren’t able to come up with some cash to pay down your debt quickly, try to get your credit card issuer to raise your limit. If instead of having $10,000 in available credit, you have $15,000, your ratio would go down to 53% with a $8,000 debt. Keep in mind, however, that they’ll usually only grant this if you’ve had a good record with them over the last year. If you’ve missed payments, you may not be able to get the increase.
3. Sign Up for a New Credit Card
If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt, getting another credit card may not be the wisest thing to do. But if you need to raise your credit score quickly, this may be your only option. If you can, try to get a card with a 0% intro balance transfer option, which will allow you to transfer your existing debt over and at least get a break from paying interest each month. (See also: Credits Cards With the Best 0% Balance Transfer Offer)
If you can’t get approved for credit cards because of your low score, get a secured credit card, which even those with bad credit can get approved for. (See also: Best 5 Secured Credit Cards)
The length of your credit history makes up 15% of your score. If your score is low because you are new to credit, then you will just have to be patient. But you can build up your credit by opening up accounts now and keeping them in good standing in the future.
4. Keep Cards Open
You should not close any existing accounts, as each one continues to contribute to your credit history. In fact, many people hold the mistaken belief that closing credit card accounts will help their credit score, when it will likely have the opposite effect. The longer you’ve had your accounts, the more it adds your score. Even if you’re no longer using your old credit cards, you can cut up the cards or lock them away, but don’t cancel them.
5. Become an Authorized User
If you’re having trouble getting approved for new accounts, see if you can become an authorized user on someone else’s card. But make sure you sign on with someone who is a responsible user. Your score can tank if that person misses payments or has too much debt on that card, too.
Types of Credit
The types of credit in use also makes up 10% of your credit score. These formulas favor those who have several types of loans including home loans, auto loans, student loans, credit cards, and store charge cards.
6. Mix up Your Forms of Credit
While you shouldn’t borrow money for a home or car just to try to improve your score, it’s worth keeping in mind that even opening a store charge card and using it for a few small purchases may help to improve your credit score slightly.
You can also consider opening a specialized card like a branded gas card (that only works for gas station payments). This will help you resist the urge to spend on other things and you’ll rack up rewards in no time, such as free gas. Pay the balance off immediately after every use and your credit score will reflect your good credit history, payment history, and increased available credit.
Your payment history makes up the biggest percentage of your score — 35%. There is no getting around the importance of paying your bills on time.
7. Set up Alerts and Auto-Pay
Sometimes payments are missed simply because you forgot or misplaced the bill. These small mistakes add up on your credit score. If you have trouble remembering to pay your bills, then set up automatic payments or set up reminder alerts on your calendar. No excuses!
To maintain a good score, you should be diligent about monitoring your credit, as well. Check your credit report every year at AnnualCreditReport.com to ensure there are no errors. If you notice a discrepancy, act on it quickly. Your credit score may be unjustifiably low and you may simply need to make a call to correct any issues. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80% of consumer credit reports have an error, which may be costing you up to 50 credit points. Take advantage of services like CreditSesame.com to monitor your credit score for free throughout the year. (See also: Credit Cards That Offer Free Credit Scores)
These are our recommendations for increasing your credit score quickly. Do you have any suggestions to add? Please share your thoughts in the comments!