How to Raise Your Credit Score
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Key points about: increasing your credit score
If you have an error on your credit report, disputing it and having it corrected might improve your credit score quickly.
Paying off large balances might raise your credit score in a short time.
There’s no guaranteed way to raise credit scores fast, but responsibly using credit can help you improve your score over time.
As a credit card holder, it’s important to stay on top of your credit score. If you recently checked your credit score and you’re unhappy with where it stands, there are ways you can improve it. Let’s review some tips for how to boost your credit score. Keep in mind: There’s no guaranteed way to raise credit scores fast because there are many factors to consider, but some factors can be corrected more quickly than others.
How to improve your credit score
If you want to raise your credit score, you should start by knowing where your credit stands. At AnnualCreditReport.com, you’re entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus–Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. A separate, temporary provision allows anyone to get a free credit report once a week from the three credit bureaus through December 2023, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Check your credit report for mistakes
When you get your credit report, check it for mistakes, such as a bill you paid that is mislabeled as unpaid, or accounts you don’t recognize. These errors could reduce your credit score through no fault of your own. Reporting errors to a credit bureau is an important step and may help raise your credit score.
Removing errors from your credit report may be a fast way to boost your credit score since your score will be recalculated with the new information.
Improving your credit utilization ratio may boost your score
Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of your available credit that you’re using. For example, if you have a $2,000 credit limit and you spend $1,000 before your account cycles, that’s a credit utilization ratio of 50%.
Generally, it’s recommended that you keep your utilization ratio low. This indicates that you aren’t overspending and are doing a good job of managing your budget. If your credit utilization is currently high, paying it down may help improve your score.
Build your credit history
If you’ve never had a credit card before, you may want to consider one to begin building your credit history. This option may not be fast, but it may be faster than trying to build credit using another type of credit, such as a loan.
Did you know
If you lack credit history, one option is to look into secured credit cards. Typically, credit card issuers offer secured credit cards that require no credit history to apply. Secured credit cards come with a credit limit equal to a refundable security deposit you use to apply. Paying the secured credit card’s monthly balance in full and on time can help build credit history. Some secured cards even offer rewards, such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, which allows you to earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.1
Pay on time to increase your credit score
Your payment history can account for a large part of your credit score. You might positively impact that score by paying bills in full and on time, every time.
You may also be curious about what date a credit card issuer reports your activity to the credit bureaus. You can check with your credit card issuer for specific information on when they report your recent card activity. Discover cardmembers can find additional information under the Credit Reporting section of their statement. Log in to view your statement.
Mistakes to avoid when trying to raise your credit score
Along with mistakes on your credit report, these common factors could cause your credit score to decrease:
- A missed or late payment. A payment on a credit card bill or loan that’s more than 30 days late could reduce points from your credit score. Payment history is a large component of a credit score, so any missed payments will likely hurt. If you’re trapped in a cycle of missed payments, consider seriously evaluating your spending and setting a tight budget until you get your credit card balance(s) under control.
- A high balance. Using a high percentage of your available credit might negatively impact your credit score. Your credit utilization ratio forms a significant piece of your credit score.
- Credit inquiries. Applying for a new credit card or other types of new credit racks up hard inquiries, or instances when potential creditors look at your credit report. These can count against you since a consumer adding credit may be adding debt.
- Canceling a card. Retaining an old card may be more valuable than closing the account because closing a card likely lowers your available credit, which can raise your credit utilization ratio. If the card is one of your older accounts, canceling can also lower the average age of your credit accounts, which is also a factor in your score.
- A creditor canceled a card or lowered the limit. When a creditor cancels your card, it has the same effect as canceling a card yourself; your total available credit and length of credit history may change in a way that lowers your credit score. If your credit limit is lowered, that will impact your credit utilization as well.
Change bad habits to help build your credit score
Of course, it’s easy to simply say what some goals are to build your credit score, like a certain credit utilization percent or paying bills on time. In reality, it may be harder to reverse habits that might have led to bad credit in the first place. Once you’ve tackled the steps above, consider these next moves you may want to make.
First, you may want to structure your budget so you pay your bills just after you get paid. This way you can make your payment while your bank account is flush. You can set reminders on your calendar for due dates, and many credit cards allow you to set up email alerts as well. If you are paid on a set schedule, consider using an autopay option to pay your bill a day or two after your scheduled paycheck.
Finally, try not to spend more than you have. This is often easier said than done, as it can involve tracking your spending, making a budget, and sticking to it. Creating an emergency fund may be a good idea, and consider making savings goals for big purchases instead of just jumping on sales or desires. Purchasing a new TV can feel even better when you can afford to pay the bill in full. Unless you have a perfect credit score, there are usually ways to boost your score. Most factors that raise your credit score take time, but some may be faster than others. While you won’t be able to boost your score overnight, you can begin steps today that could have a positive impact on your credit in the future.
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