Having a good credit score helps you get lower interest rates on loans and credit cards. However, raising your credit score overnight is not always simple. You must first determine why your credit score is low before you can improve it.
Jim Triggs, president and CEO of nonprofit credit counselling firm Money Management International, Inc (MMI), tells CNBC Select that understanding the specific factors affecting your credit score is the first step towards raising it quickly. Here are some tips and tricks from Triggs and two other experts on how fast your credit score can rise and how to make it happen.
Reduce your outstanding credit card balances.
Paying more than your minimum payment each month, if you can, is a great way to chip away at your revolving debt and maintain a low credit utilization rate. Keeping your credit utilization rate low is particularly critical if you have a lot of revolving debt.
Seeing the impact on your credit score depends on how quickly creditors report the fulfilled balance on the consumer’s credit report, says Triggs. “Some creditors report immediately after the payment, while others report at a particular time each month,” she says. Credit card companies usually report your statement balance to the credit bureaus monthly, but this may vary depending on your issuer. You may call or chat online with your issuer to find out when they report balances to the bureaus.
It is better to pay off your balance each month as soon as possible. You may also make multiple payments towards your balance throughout the month to keep track of your expenditures, which makes it easier. Although it’s good to pay even a portion of your debt off, paying off the entire amount will have the greatest and fastest impact on your credit score.
Increase your credit limit.
There are two ways to increase your credit limit: you may either ask for an increase on your current credit card or open a new one. The lower your credit utilization rate is (assuming you do not max out your card each month), the higher your overall available credit limit is. Credit utilization is the amount of credit being used relative to the amount of credit available. Before requesting an increase in your credit limit, ensure that you will not be tempted to spend more than you can afford.
Before you apply for a new credit card, do your research. Your credit score is determined by the number of times you apply for and open accounts. Every application requires the credit card issuer or lender to pull your credit report, which results in a hard inquiry and dings your credit score a few points. And be careful not to apply for too many credit cards in a short amount of time, as this may send a red flag to issuers. Issuers may have stricter terms and requirements because of the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
There are some credit cards available for those with poor credit, but most of the top reward cards require excellent credit. The Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa Credit Card has no fees whatsoever, and allows applicants with no credit history to apply.
Make sure your credit report is error-free.
Checking your credit report for any errors that could be negatively impacting you can help you increase your credit score quickly. If you are able to dispute them with proof and have them removed, your score may improve.
It is important to take the time to review your credit report, as about 25% of Americans have an error on theirs. Fraudulent or duplicated accounts, as well as misreported payments, are some of the most common mistakes to look for.
According to financial educator Thomas Nitzsche at MMI, most of the clients they meet with have not reviewed their report in the last year, and are often surprised by what they find and want us to discuss with them. By going to AnnualCreditReport.com now, you can get a free credit report from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
Request that the negative entries on your credit report be removed.
Having a lot of late payments on your credit report or an old collection account that has since been paid off showing up may be the problem. Ask to have them removed if this is the case. (And if you do have an unpaid collection account, make it a priority. Unpaid collection accounts can have a negative impact on your score.)
It may take longer and require more effort on your part, but it is worth it. Triggs recommends contacting the collection agency, debt buyer, or original creditor (depending on who currently services your account) to have a paid-off account removed from your credit report.
It might be best to request for the account to be removed entirely, rather than just showing as paid, as this would have a more significant impact on your credit score, Triggs says. Unpaid collection account or unpaid charge-off on your credit report might prevent creditors from granting you future credit.
Doing this on your own might be overwhelming and stressful at times. You can use a credit repair company to help you out. They know the federal laws and they take charge on your behalf helping you resolve the issues you might have.
There is no one solution that fits all when it comes to improving your credit score, but you can immediately take these four steps to clean up your credit report. According to Equifax global consumer solutions president Beverly Anderson, every person’s credit journey is unique. There are many factors that affect credit scores for the majority of consumers, but they will not always have the same impact.
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