If you are planning on making a large purchase, you also need to plan on having your credit checked. A good credit score can make you eligible for better terms on loans and better credit cards.
Unhappy with your current credit score? There’s good news: the lower your score, the more dramatic an effect the tips below will have to help raise it. Regardless of your credit, these strategies can improve your rating quickly and get you reaping the rewards of good credit right away.
- Make Payments More than once a month
Your credit score is a combination of many factors. Two key elements are your credit balance – how much money you owe, and your credit utilization – how much of your available credit you use compared to your credit limit. Making multiple payments throughout the month benefits both of these factors and has a major effect on your credit score.
Making frequent payments stops your balance from building up over the course of the month. This keeps your credit utilization low – which will benefit your score right away.
- Increase your credit limit
This strategy only works if your credit balance stays the same, so do not go spending up to your new limit.
Make sure that when you ask your credit card company for a new limit you also ask for them not to make a “hard credit inquiry.” A hard inquiry will hurt your score and negate the benefits of this tactic.
- Check Your Credit Report for Errors
Part of the reason for your low score may be an error on one or more of your credit reports. You are allowed a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The best way to request a report is to use AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you have your report, look over it closely for any errors.
Contact the bureau(s) reporting errors to dispute your report and get the report corrected. The credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and respond.
- Become an Authorized User
Part of the reason for a low score may be a short credit history. If you have not had a credit card for very long, or have not made many purchases it may be a good idea to be added as an authorized user for someone else. Ask a friend or relatively to add you and you can piggyback off of their credit usage.
The account holder does not have to let you use the card, or even tell you the account number. You will receive the benefit just by being added to the account.
- Pay your bills on time every time
Of all the factors to consider, payment history has the largest effect on credit scores. No matter what other strategies you employ, the most important thing is to always pay on time. This is most important with accounts that are 30 days or more late. These ‘delinquent’ accounts come with a stiff penalty to your score for each month you are late. Make getting payments in on time your highest priority and if you have any delinquent accounts, get those paid ASAP.