FTC: This post is not sponsored and I am not a financial advisor. All thoughts and weird opinions are my own.
Building your credit may seem like a huge feat, but I promise you with a little of patience, and a whole lot of knowledge you’ll be making strides towards the score you know you want/can achieve. These 9 Simple Ways To Increase Your Credit Score fast will definitely put you on the right path. As with everything this requires you to be financially responsible, and make sound financial decisions as well.
9 Simple Ways To Increase Your Credit Score Fast
What is a Credit Score?
If you’ve been following me long enough you know my spiel about credit and your credit score. So I won’t go too in depth into that. However if you’re new here… welcome and let me break down the basics for you really quickly and really simply. Your credit score is a number given to you that represents your credit history and responsibility. Lenders/creditors use this number when deciding how much money to give you in the future, and how much interest to charge you as well. The more responsible you are (the higher the number) the more money you’ll be approved for at a lower/ more reasonable interest rate. The score usually ranges from 300 (the worst side of it) to 850 (considered excellent/perfect credit).
What Creates Your Credit Score?
There are five major factors that determine your credit score. Each factor determines a separate percentage and affects your overall score differently. The credit factors are as follows: payment history (35%), utilization (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%) and types of credit used (10%).
What does each factor mean really?
It is as simple as it sounds, how often you pay your bills/creditors on time vs. how often are you late or delinquent. It is in your best interest to always pay your bills and debts on time in order to have a positive payment history, especially since it impacts 35% of how your score is calculated.
This is how much of your credit is available vs how much of your credit you have used. That is why it is imperative for you to try and keep your credit card balances low (better if they are at zero at the end of the month). It is not simply to avoid interest rates (which really is a good enough reason if you ask me) but it is to help benefit your credit score on a month to month basis. The more credit used the more irresponsible you seem to the credit bureaus.
Length of Credit History:
This factor in the credit score calculations is my least favorite and most annoying. I am 31 years old… my oldest credit account was opened in 2006 when I borrowed money for school. I recently just paid off my loans in December 2018, which makes my longest credit account active for 13 years. My second is my first credit card I opened in 2008, making it 11 years old. In order for me to have excellent length of credit history, I need to have credit open for 25+ years… which mathematically is impossible.
Although that factor does detract from my credit score in a minor way, it is important to have accounts that have been open for a while. They look for 25 years or older to be viewed as excellent, but if you have some substantial years behind you on any particular account it will work in your favor. The bureau will take into account how long your oldest account has been active, and how long your newest account has been opened. They then take an average. Hence… keep your accounts open, especially if they are in good standing.
To prove you are financially responsible the credit bureaus calculate your mix of credit accounts. This means they deem credit cards, student loans, mortgages, car notes… etc as a healthy mix if they are in good standing. This shows a variation of credit that you are financially mastering. To have a higher score/rank well in this category it is best to have 4-6 different lines of credit open and in good standing.
Applying for New Credit Accounts
This is one of the most annoying categories for a few reasons. You want to build credit so you open new credit lines to prove your worthiness… great idea right? Wrong. If you open too many accounts in a short span of time (they come off your report after 2 years) then you are seen as a risk. Try not to have too many inquires on your report, hard pulls will lower your score substantially.
Now that you know what your credit score is made of… let me guide you on how to use this knowledge to your benefit and increase your credit score fast.
1. Check your damn credit report
I don’t know why people think that ignoring a problem will make it better, or what they don’t know won’t hurt them. That is BEYOND false! You need to know what is on your credit report, so you can understand how your score was calculated and if there are any errors that need fixing right away!
You get one free credit report annually from all three credit bureaus. Use it! And don’t just look at it… really dive into it deeply to see that all your I’s are dotted and t’s are crossed. Are there any late payments that shouldn’t be there? Check and see… because the longer you let these errors sit on your report, the harder it is going to be to have them removed later on.
2. Correct Any Errors on Your Credit Report
Once you’ve checked your report and you found an error… what do you do about it? Where do you go from there? Fix it sounds like the easy obvious answer but it doesn’t always just happen with a snap of a finger. To fix these errors will take several steps and some patience and will power. For a step by step guide to removing errors in your credit report you can get your hands-on our financial literacy e-book right here!
3. Watch Your Credit Card Balances
Remember earlier in the break down of the credit score factors… yeah it’s coming back around! Thirty percent of your credit score i calculated by credit utilization. I knew this… and still somehow with a 3000 credit card balance during the summer I had the nerve to be shocked and appalled when my credit score dropped 40 points. Thankfully I’m still at a great number… don’t be like me. If you must use credit cards then keep the balance low or at zero by the time the end of the month arrives. Don’t go from month to month with high balances because you aren to only going to be paying off extra in interest but your credit score will take a massive hit,
By paying off your credit card balances you will find that you score increases drastically in a short period of time. This is probably the easiest method and step you can take in order to increase your credit score. The rule of thumb if you can’t keep your balances at zero is to use less than 30% of your credit in order to stay in good graces with the credit reporting bureaus.
4. Pay Your Bills On Time
Thirty five percent of your credit score is calculated using credit history. That is the largest part… paying your bills and creditors on time. That means … you need to pay your damn bills on time! Easier said than done… because well… life happens. Setting up auto pay will help alleviate some of the stress of having to remember to give up your hard earned money to bills. Will also make it easier for you to not have to see the money walking out your account so swiftly. Out of site, out of mind… but still paid on time!
5. Pay Down Your Debts
This sounds like a no brainer but it still needs to be said. The more debts you pay down, the higher your credit score will go. One it shows you are responsible and have paid back what you borrowed without any late payments or without delinquency. This also impacts your utilization rate which you know… is a huge factor in calculating your score. This is why I focused on the debt avalanche method when paying off my student loans and is what I am doing now with my 3,000 dollar credit card balance. I am paying off the highest used credit in order to free up the utilization and lower the percentage used.
6. Increase Your Credit limit
During the last 8 weeks I’ve had to spend an enormous amount of money on home renovation, car repair, and my dog. This means that there were a lot of unforeseen expenses that caused me to carry around the weight of a 3,000 dollar credit card balance and a decreased credit score because of it. My pride and my credit score were both taking massive blows. In order for me to keep my sanity and help boost my credit score back up rather quickly, I increased the credit limits on both of my credit cards.
Why? Well see step 3 to remind you. Credit utilization impacts your credit a lot! So in order to beat the system I increased my credit balance and my credit score in one easy online request. This didn’t impact my credit score negatively because I wasn’t opening a new line of credit and my credit card companies didn’t require a credit check to increase the spending limit. This is usually best to do if you get a raise at work because then the increased income will work in your favor with the credit card companies and they’ll approve you for a higher limit.
Going from a 7,500 dollar limit to an 11,500 limit on one card gave me 4,000 dollars more wiggle room in my credit utilization.
7. Have Various Credit Lines
Initially when I started focusing on being debt free, I didn’t see the purpose in focusing on my credit score or anything else really. Then I realized just how closely they work together in tandem and I opened up another credit card back in 2015. I only have two credit cards, but I have had two cars that were financed and paid off in full, student loan debt paid off in full, and I currently have a mortgage. This shows a vast range of different credit lines that I have opened and managed well. This doesn’t mean you should run out and get a mortgage or open up 5 credit cards because you want some variety. This means that you want to still be responsible and smart when navigating accounts, but keep in mind that the more accounts you have managed well the more your credit score will reflect such decisions.
Speaking from pseudo experience (through a friend of mine) I am now directly opposed to people taking out personal loans as a means of building credit. The interest alone is a turn off… and for the loan to really have a positive impact on your score, you have to let it play out the full-length / life of the loan. Meaning… if you pay it off earlier (the earlier the worse it can be) then it won’t be beneficial to you and could potentially harm your score.
8. Open Another Line of Credit
If you can’t or don’t want to increase your credit limit you can open another line of credit (remember… responsibility is the name of the game here). Dont open up 6 different credit cards for the sake of an improved credit score. If you do you will be viewed as a risk… and frankly not a good decision maker. But like I mentioned before, I opened my first card in 2008 and my second in 2015. I don’t see myself opening another card for quite some time and it would have to be for a really good reason. But if you need various credit, and can responsibly manage another credit card, the new card may be more impactful on your score if used correctly ( still be concerned with too many new accounts opened at once.
9. Make Smart Consistent Decisions
With everything financial… and everything in life really you want to be smart and consistent. It takes time and patience to really build a credit score worth its weight in gold interest rates. Don’t be hard on yourself if you make a mistake or see your score take a bit of a dip. I went from 840 in January to 760 in August of the same year… so trust me I know it can be frustrating and annoying.
However by making consistent financially responsible decisions you open your self up to being more knowledgeable, wiser, and on the right trajectory to having a bomb credit score that makes all of your social media followers envious!
Until the next time,
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Hey there! I’m Melissa, co-founder of Trials n Tresses, natural hair and beauty lover, binge tv watcher and lover of life. When I am not creating content for TNT, I’m busy teaching the future of society.