If you’re looking for ways to improve your credit score, there’s no quick fix. However, you can boost your credit score with major credit agencies by using the seven tips below.
1. Read your credit report
It helps to understand what works in your favor and what doesn’t as you learn how to improve your credit score. Your credit report will highlight potential issues that are lowering your score, such as high credit card balances and late payments.
action item: Get your free credit reports on AnnualCreditReport.com, a site jointly operated by Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Your credit score will not appear on your credit report. A financial institution like your credit card company can give you your score, but if not, you can get it from one of the credit bureaus for a fee.
2. Pay your bills on time
It may seem daunting if you’re looking for how to improve your credit score, but it’s absolutely essential. Late and missed payments hurt your credit and tend to build up if left unchecked.
action item: Pay your bills before they are due and set up automatic payments on accounts that allow it. Some companies will let you change your monthly payment date, which can also help you avoid late or NSF payments.
3. Establish payment plans with creditors
If you are behind on payments to your creditors, you may be able to set up payment plans to cover some or all of your debt. This will show that you are striving to improve your credit score and become a more responsible borrower.
action item: Respect the new payment schedule. This might inspire you to learn how to improve your credit score, because defaulting on your debt will further hurt your credit.
4. Limit requests for new credit
Try to have as few serious inquiries as possible on your credit report. Applying for a new credit card or loan requires careful investigation, which can temporarily hurt your score.
action item: Ask for a new loan with the least possible parsimony. Having many difficult inquiries for different types of credit in a short period of time can cause lenders to see you as a riskier borrower in the future.
5. Consider keeping your old accounts
Keeping credit accounts open can seem counterintuitive if you’re thinking about how to improve your credit score. But closing them is not necessarily the right choice. For example, while closing a credit card may reduce the debt you’re carrying, it could also reduce the average age of your accounts and increase the percentage of your available credit you’re using.
action item: Pay off revolving debts like credit cards and home equity lines of credit, but consider keeping accounts open. Keep in mind that creditors may close revolving accounts that have little or no activity.
6. Keep credit utilization low
Your credit utilization ratio, also known as your debt-to-equity ratio, is the amount of revolving credit you’re using divided by your total credit limit. Personal finance experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%, but it’s best to keep it as low as possible.
action item: Reduce your credit card spending and pay bills at least twice a month to have a smaller percentage of your total credit limit outstanding at any given time. You can also request a limit increase, but it may not be approved if you have bad credit and are looking for ways to improve your credit score.
7. Use different types of credit
Have several types of credit, such as a secured credit card, a refinanced car loan and a mortgage payment – is good for your credit score. Just be sure to pay your bills on time, otherwise the disadvantages of having multiple types of credit could outweigh the potential advantages.
action item: Diversify the types of accounts on your credit report, but don’t apply for many types of credit in a short period of time. This could lead to multiple difficult requests that will cause your credit score to plummet.