A low credit score means you’ll be borrowing money at high interest rates, costing you extra money today and potentially far into the future.
Low credit scores can also prevent you from getting a job, getting insurance, and even renting a place.
However, you can increase your credit score dramatically and quickly if you start taking care of it today. These are the following best strategies to use to get a higher credit score fast. You can increase your credit score 100 points to 200 points quickly.
Fix all errors on your credit report
Errors on your credit report can dramatically drag your credit score down and force you to pay unfavorable interest rates when borrowing money. The FTC found that 20% of people have an error on their credit report. In other words, 1 in every 5 person has something inaccurate reported on their credit report.
Why is there such a high percentage of errors on credit reports?
It’s because the three main credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) collect information about you (bill payment history, where you live and work, if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, etc) and compile this information into a report (your credit report). They can make a mistake collecting this information (and clearly they do – a lot).
You want to get a copy of your credit report and look for any errors of information and identify items that do not belong to you. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report every year from the three main credit reporting agencies.
If you find an error on your credit report, you will need dispute it. That’s an unfortunate problem you have to deal with, but a necessary step.
Request a credit limit increase on your credit cards
30% of your credit score is determined by how much money you are currently borrowing compared to how much available credit you have available to use. One of the quickest ways to increase your credit score is to call your credit card company and ask for an increase in credit limit. When your limit increases, you’ll automatically have a lower “debt to credit ratio” which can can create a quick positive impact on your credit score.
Pay off more of your debt
Reducing the amount of money you owe is important for your financial health and credit score. Not everyone is in a position to pay down loans at a quicker pace, but this should be your main goal for increasing your credit score. The more money you owe, the more it factors negatively against your credit score. Creditors and lenders are more willing to loan you money when they see you have less debt.
Make sure you pay your bills on time
Bill payment history is the most important factor that determines what credit score you have (35% of your credit score is determined by history of payments). It’s ideal to pay your bills in full and on time every month. If you can’t pay bills in full, make the minimum payment and do it on time. Frequent missed payments and late payments (especially if they are more recent) will sabotage your credit worthiness.
Don’t close off any old credit accounts
Length of credit history factors into your credit score. Don’t close off any old credit cards or lines of credit unless you specifically have a reason to. Old accounts that have been responsibly paid off are good for your credit health. For example, you may have opened a few credit cards years ago and don’t use them anymore. Keeping these accounts open can help you get and maintain high credit scores.
Apply for more credit
Sounds very counter intuitive, however your credit utilization rate (how much money you are currently borrowing vs how much credit you can use) is a big factor in determining your credit score.
For example, If you have $5000 in credit card debt, but you have a limit of $100,000 across all your credit cards, your credit utilization is very small (only 5%). If you have $5000 in credit card debt and your limit is only $5000, your credit utilization is 100% (using all available credit). This is very bad for your credit score. a quick fix to this “problem” is to ask for a credit limit increase as mentioned above, or simply get more credit by apply for it.
The initial application for credit will likely lower your credit score a little. However the impact of that doesn’t last forever. Credit scores will trend back up (provided you are taking care of your credit health) over the next few months. The lasting benefit in the long run should be positive. You may not want to use this strategy if your goal is to get a loan right now, as the initial ding on your score may prevent you from getting an ideal interest rate for your loan.
The easiest way to get more credit is typically with credit cards. I don’t recommend getting getting a car loan, personal loan, or any type of loan where you are forced to pay interest.
Monitor your credit reports and credit score
Credit reports are used by lenders to determine things like how much interest to charge you and how much money to lend you (and if they should lend to you at all).
Insurance companies can use your report to determine if they will give you car insurance or a mortgage.
Employers and rental property owners may also use your report to determine if they will give you a job or allow you to be a tenant.
Needless to say, maintaining an accurate credit report and working towards a high credit score is incredibly important.
It’s very important to look at your credit report at least once a year to make sure it’s accurate. You also want to track how your credit score is trending based on your financial behavior.
At any time, a reporting agency can make a mistake on your report. Also, if you’ve ever had your identity stolen, inaccuracies are much more likely to show up on your report. You want to identify and fix these problems fast should they occur. Monitoring your credit report also helps you catch identity theft early too.
How to get a free credit score
Your credit reports can be requested for free. Unfortunately, getting your credit score typically costs money.
However a popular company where you can get your credit score for free is Credit Sesame.
They also have a bunch of resources to help you improve your credit score and monitor your score over time as well. If you’re interested in this, check them out.