Your credit score is one of the most important financial thing you’ll ever take care of.
If you’ve ever been presented with an astronomical interest rate when you’ve applied for a loan, or received a very high car insurance quote, or been denied a job after the screening process, your credit score could have been the major reason for this.
Your credit score affects so much of your daily life. It really really pays to take good care of it.
You’re here because your credit score isn’t in the best shape it could be. That’s okay. Most Americans don’t have great credit. You’re not alone.
Today, I want to share with you 7 things you need to do to raise your credit quickly.
All you need to do is follow the 7 steps. Apply what you learned, and then wait for time to pass. Increasing your credit score requires credit building habits + time. That’s it.
Depending on where you start, you can boost your credit score up 200+ points in just a year or two. There isn’t a quick fix or hack that will boost your credit score 100 points in 2 months. I wish there were but there isn’t. But again, you can quickly raise your credit score by following the steps outlined here.
Please have a thorough read of my guide here, and don’t hesitate to leave a comment or question below if you have any!
7 Steps To Increase Your Credit Score Fast Today
Step 1: Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report
The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your credit report.
Your credit report is a history of all the credit you’ve had. It will list all the different types of loans you’ve had and still have, and detail your payment history for these loans.
The main reason why you MUST get a copy of your credit report is because it could contain errors. I’ve heard as much as 1 in 5 Americans have an error on their credit report. An error in your credit report could severely lower your credit score if the problem is bad enough.
Examples of credit report errors:
For example, someone with the same name as you could have stopped paying back a loan, and this delinquent loan is being reported on your credit history. This is clearly a terrible mistake, but it’s your responsibility to check for any errors like this in your credit report. Or your identity was stolen and someone is using and abusing your credit using your identity. Or a loan you and your ex had together was supposed to be paid by the other party, but he/she didn’t pay it and now it’s gone to collections. As you can see, there are many types of errors that can occur on your report.
Other errors you must check for are things like late payments and dollar amounts owed on your active accounts are accurate. Basically, you want to make sure everything that belongs on there IS in fact on there, and it’s accurate. If you find an inaccuracy, then you’ll want to dispute it with the credit bureaus.
How do you get your credit report? You are entitled to get a free credit report every year. You can get one from annualcreditreport.com.
By the way, there are 3 major credit bureau’s. They are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each company will have a credit report of yours. They CAN be different from each other. You are entitle to get your credit report from each company once per year for free from Annual Credit Report.
Also, your credit report can change several times per year. Expect more changes if you’ve applied for new credit and loans in the past year. You will want to check your credit report more frequently than once per year if you are trying to raise your credit score. It’s very reasonable for errors to occur when lenders report your credit info to the credit bureau’s. Errors can drastically impact your ability to increase your credit score.
Note: Your credit report is not the same thing as your credit score. Read the next step to learn how to obtain your credit score.
Step 2: Find Out What Your Credit Score Is
Your credit report and credit score are two different things.
Your credit report lists all your previous and current loans. Your credit score is a number that ranks how good your credit report is. To put it another way, think back to high school. Your credit report would be equivalent to your report card. And your credit score would be equivalent to the grade you received.
Your credit score will be what lenders look at when they are assessing your loan application. The higher your credit score is, the more likely it is you’ll get a loan, and the lower your interest rate will be.
It’s incredibly important to know what your credit score is right now, so you know where you are starting off. And as you actively implement credit building habits into your life, you build your credit score up, and you can visually see the positive numerical change.
If you don’t know where you are starting off, then you won’t know how much your score has increased, if it has even increased at all. It’s not a good way to build your credit up.
How Credit Scores Work:
The main credit score that is used by most lenders is the FICO score. There are many other types of credit scores, but you should probably focus on your FICO score because most lenders use it when you need a loan.
FICO scores range from 300-850. Here’s the breakdown of the FICO score scale:
- 300-599 Very Bad
- 600-649 Poor
- 650-699 Fair
- 700-749 Good
- 750-799 Very Good
- 800-850 Excellent
According to NerdWallet, the average FICO score was 695, according to the latest data from 2015.
If you have a FICO score of 800 or lower, you will want to regularly work at improving your credit score. But before you can properly do that, you’ll need to find out what your credit score is right now.
There are several places to get your credit score and credit report.
Since we are talking about FICO scores, I recommend getting your credit report and credit score from myfico.com. They can give you both, and they will regularly give you access to your credit report and credit score.
Again, since you are actively trying to raise your credit score, you need to actively look at your credit report and credit score. I highly recommend paying for a service that will help you do both of these in one place. Check out myfico.
Proven Tips To Improve Your Credit Score
The following steps are proven ways to increase your credit score fast. You may already be doing some of them and some of them you may need to work on. Your goal is to get in the habit of doing all of these regularly. This will boost your credit score up the most in the shortest amount of time.
To give you an idea of how your credit score is calculated, it is broken down in the following way:
- 35% Payment History
- 30% Amounts Owed (Credit Utilization)
- 15% Length Of Credit History
- 10% Credit Mix
- 10% New Credit
Below, I’ll get into tips and best practices to maximize the rise of your credit score.
Step 3: Payment History: Pay All Bills On Time And In Full
For any of your bills that are considered “loans”, it’s very very very very important to pay them all on time, and pay the full amount.
Noticed I said “very” about a million times. That’s because your credit score is based mostly on your payment history (35%). If you have a long history of paying your bills late, you will bad a poor credit score.
Because your payment history makes up such a large part of your credit score, you need to improve this area of your credit the most if you struggle with it. This is where you need to start repairing your credit.
4 Tips for improving your payment history
The nice thing about fixing this area of your credit score is easy. You just need to pay your bills on time. Here are 4 ways you can do that:
- Set up automatic withdrawals for any loans you may have – This could be a car payments, credit card payments, or student loan payments. This way, you can’t make a late payment – it’s done automatically. Just make sure you have enough money in the bank!
- Set up reminders/alerts – You can use an app on your phone or a calendar on your computer. Probably an app on your phone would be easiest. either way, remind yourself when your bills are due. We’re busy and we forget things. Forgetting to pay a loan hurts your score badly, so don’t let it happen. Set a reminder for yourself to help you pay them on time
- Pay credit card statements immediately – If you’re a little paranoid about paying your credit card bill on time, or have a tendency to forget to pay it off at the end of your billing cycle, then pay it off at the end of each week. Or pay it off every time you’ve used it if you want to get extreme about it. Paying your credit card statement more often will not hurt you. In fact, it can save you from accidentally missing a payment. I suggest signing up for online banking with your bank and paying your credit card bill online (very easy to do and super convenient)
- Don’t take out more loans than you can handle – this might be a tough one to deal with because life happens and we fall short of money. But a big reason why people miss payments is because they can’t make a payment. So please, do your best to only apply for a loan when you know you can afford it and pay it back. Loans that go delinquent will wreck your credit score faster than anything else
Also, you want to pay your credit cards every month for the full amount. If you simply cannot pay back the full amount, then at least make the minimum payment so the credit report records that you’ve made a payment for the month. Don’t just skip it because you can’t pay it. Sometimes the minimum payment is just $10 and it’s definitely affordable.
As far as regular loans or student loans goes, make sure you continue to pay them when they are due.
Step 4: Lower Your Amounts Owed (Lower Your Credit Utilization)
30% of your credit score is based on how much money you owe right now.
But actually, the amount you “owe” is not based on the actual amount of dollars you owe. It’s based on how much money you owe compared to how much total money you are allowed to borrow.
Let me explain with an example:
Person A who owes $10,000 but has available credit of $100,000 is using 10% of his total credit available.
Person B who owes $10,000 but has available credit of $20,000 is using 50% of his total credit available.
From our point of view, both people owe $10,000. But to the credit bureau, Person B has a credit utilization of 50%, which is far more than Person A with a credit utilization of 10%. Therefore, Person B’s credit score would be lower – all things being equal.
Between your credit cards and lines of credit, if you max them out or are close to maxing them out, it hurts your credit score a lot. Basically, don’t max them out. Try your best not to go over 30-40% of your overall available credit. This will keep your credit utilization rate low, and improve your credit score.
3 Tips for keeping your credit utilization rate low:
- Get more credit – the easiest and best way to lower your credit utilization rate is to get more credit. Sound crazy, right, but when you get MORE credit, you will increase your available credit to you, and lower your credit utilization rate at the same time. Since your credit utilization accounts for 30% of your credit score, doing this should improve your credit score and also offset any negative affects of applying for new credit.
- Spend less money – Hard to do, I know! But honestly, buy less stuff. Just resist the temptation to buy stuff you don’t really really need. Start spending money on only necessities and learn to be happy with less. Happiness is just a frame of mind, you can do it!
- Aggressively pay back loans – If you can, make double payments for car payments, or if you owe money on your credit card bills or line of credit, pay it down instead of going on a weekend ski trip. All dollars you put towards paying down debt will increase your credit score. A little bit of savings a day towards this goes a really long way.
Step 5: Maximize The Length Of Your Credit History
This step is nice and simple to do.
15% of your credit score is based on how long you’ve had your loans for. So we want to make sure that it’s really really long. As long as possible.
When you get your credit report, you’ll see all the loans and credit cards and lines of credits you’ve had. You want to pick out the ones you’ve had the longest, and NEVER close them.
Even if it’s a credit card you’ve had for 10 years and don’t use anymore, or don’t even know where the card is, that’s fine! From everything I’ve seen, that can’t hurt you.
Leaving your old accounts open and active (preferably) shows you have had credit for a long time which is a good indicator of responsibility with credit. Just make sure you never close these accounts.
If you have a credit card that you no longer use, or you are paying fee’s on it and don’t want to pay fee’s anymore, then ask the credit card company to switch it to another type of card (while keeping the same number). This will preserve your account and keep it remaining active.
Step 6: Create A Great Credit Mix
10% of your credit score is comprised of what types of credit you have.
You want to have a good mix of credit. If you have a few credit cards, a line of credit, a mortgage, have student loans and a couple car loans, then that’s a pretty big mix of credit – which should help you maintain a great score in the credit mix part.
I don’t recommend going out and applying for all sorts of different credit just to increase your credit mix.
At most, I would open a line of credit and get a credit card or two if you don’t have these (or have a very small amount of these). This way, it could hurt your score right now because you’ve applied for new credit, but in the long run, you’ll have more types of credit in your credit history and you will have been paying them back responsibly (hopefully right!), which will significantly boost your credit score in the long run.
Some people take out an instalment loan (personal loan) to increase their credit mix as well. This will also help boost your overall credit score when you pay the loan back on time. You can consider doing this too if it makes sense for your situation.
But the most important thing you MUST must do is make sure you are able to pay the loan back fully and on time every month. Or else you are defeating the purpose of taking out the loan.
Step 7: Don’t Apply For New Credit Unnecessarily
Applying for new credit affects 10% of your credit score.
Every time you apply for new credit, it lowers your credit score by a few points. It’s smart to shop around for the best rates, like when you’re looking for a car loan, but you don’t want to needlessly apply for a loan at 5+ places.
Only apply for a loan when you really need one. Another reason why you need to know what your credit score is right now is because it will help you decide if you should even apply for a loan or not.
Most conventional lenders don’t lend to people who have FICO scores of less than 600. If you’re score is below 600 for example, and you go around applying for loans, you’ll very likely be denied wherever you go, and you’re just hurting your credit score needlessly. It pays to know what your credit score is, so you’ll have a proper game plan to get a loan. In this example, you will need to search out a subprime lender – which is someone who specializes in lending to people with poor credit scores.
Overall, your credit score will go back up and recoup any losses you may have incurred from apply for new credit in roughly a few months – assuming all else is fine.
The main thing here is to keep new credit applications reasonable and don’t go crazy applying for things.