Your credit score either works for you or works against you.
The world of credit scoring is complicated. Most people never get any information about how credit works, either in school or from relatives. Educating yourself about credit scoring can help you make better financial decisions, save you a ton of money, and build a more sound financial future.
In this article, we will show you the fastest way to raise your credit score up to great, even excellent levels. Get ready to roll up your sleeves, because this will be difficult, sometimes tedious work. But we promise that the payoff is worth it. Let’s go!
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First Things First: Understanding Credit and Your Credit Score
Your credit score is a tool you can use to access lending. While lending may not seem like a big deal, consider this: most Americans build their most significant wealth through homeownership. Almost everyone purchases a home with a mortgage or other lending product.
When we talk about credit scoring, we usually mean your FICO score. Your FICO score will fall between 300 and 850, which 850 being perfect. The higher your score, the better your chances are of being approved for low-interest lending.
For example, getting a car loan with bad credit can mean paying interest at 12 percent. However, that same loan for someone with good credit can mean paying an interest rate as low as five percent.
Your FICO credit score is based on the information found in your credit report. You can obtain a free credit report once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also access your free credit score and monitor the changes in your credit score with Credit Karma.
Foundations of a Good Credit Score
If you haven’t read our articles about building credit or fixing your credit score, you should. They serve as a foundation for this article, which will supercharge your effort to raise your credit score quickly. Be sure to read them!
To get a good credit score, you will need to check a few boxes:
- Consistent payment history with a record of on-time payments
- Low credit card utilization
- Little to no “hard” credit inquiries
- A good credit mix of installment and revolving credit
- A long credit history
How can I raise my credit score in 30 days?
Raising your credit score depends on your current credit history. Several factors, such as late payments and credit card utilization, can drag your credit score down. Correcting problems will raise your credit score. The faster you fix the issue, the faster your credit score will rise!
That being said, let’s look at the steps you can take to raise your credit score:
Fix Credit Utilization by Paying Down Balances
Carrying a large amount of on your credit cards month to month can drag your credit score down a lot. Creditors want to see an available credit exceeding credit usage. Cards that have reached their maximum credit limits can cost 100 points or more.
Paying these balances down will dramatically increase your score as quickly as you can pay. Generally, a credit utilization ratio below 30 percent is best. Here are some tips to help you:
- Make a budget and count every cent that comes in and out of your accounts.
- Cut your household expenses to make room in your budget for additional credit card payments.
- Host a virtual garage sale (tag sale) by selling your stuff online—on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Poshmark, and Craigslist—then use that extra money to pay off balances.
- Take up a side gig like dog walking or gardening to make extra money to put toward those credit card balances.
- Finally, put your budget surplus to work by paying off your cards—it’s not the time to splurge on a luxury good.
Ask a Friend or Relative to Add You as an Authorized User
If you’ve had trouble accessing credit, there is one fast and surefire way to get it: become an authorized user. That means that someone you know and trust adds you to their credit card account. Often this can be done online in a matter of minutes.
A few words of caution: be sure that the account you’re added to is in good standing. If you’re attached to an account with the credit line maxed out, you will inherit the negative marks associated with the account.
You will also be allowed to use that card just like the owner of the account, so be sure to work out how you will use the card responsibly with the card owner. Lastly, remember that just because you’re added to the account doesn’t mean you need to use the card. You can be added to the account, never use the card, and so long as the owner uses the account appropriately, you will receive a boost to your credit score.
Dispute Negative Marks on Your Credit Report
Do you have late payments mucking up your payment history? You can dispute those. Do you have hard inquiries? You can dispute those. Do you have something in collections? You can dispute that too.
Now, just because you dispute something doesn’t automatically make it go away. However, you are better off disputing than not. That’s because many companies don’t have the bandwidth to deal efficiently with your dispute, and they may withdraw the negative mark because it’s easier. In practice, it is usually easiest to get late payments removed. However, hard inquiries and collections marks are removed on occasion.
How do you dispute negative marks on your credit report? There are a few ways:
- Write a letter to the credit reporting agency, disputing the negative mark.
- Call the credit reporting agency and dispute the mark over the phone.
- Dispute the mark(s) online.
If one method fails, try another. If all three attempts fail, you can submit the dispute again.
Special Consideration for a Debt in Collections
If you have a bill in collections, you should send a debt validation letter to the collections agency. This letter gives the creditor thirty days to verify that the debt is rightfully yours. If validation is not made within thirty days, your collections charge can be removed.
Special Considerations for Incorrect Information
If something appears incorrectly on your report, you need to dispute it right away and don’t take no for an answer. You deserve to be rewarded for your good financial habits. If you can’t get this resolved quickly, you may need legal counsel to help you correct the mistake.
Disputing Your Information with Credit Bureaus
You can call, mail, or upload your dispute information quite easily. Don’t be afraid to use more than one method if the first doesn’t work out. We recommend starting with a phone call.
|Credit Reporting Bureau||Mailing Address||Phone||Website|
|Equifax||Equifax Information Services LLC
P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
|1 (800) 846-5279||www.equifax.com/personal/disputes|
P.O. Box 4500
Allen, TX 75013
|1 (714) 830-7000||www.experian.com/consumer/upload|
Consumer Dispute Center
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
|1 (800) 916-8800||dispute.transunion.com|
Don’t Close Any Existing Accounts
If you’ve paid off your credit card balance, you may be tempted to rid yourself of the temptation. We advise that you don’t close the card. The best thing you can do is to have a small recurring charge on your credit card and set up automatic payments to pay the card in full.
Having accounts open, old, and in good standing is an essential part of maintaining good credit. Using the credit lines, responsibly also helps you build good credit.
Apply for a New Credit Card or Higher Credit Limits
A new credit card, especially for people who don’t have a credit card, is an essential part of building good credit. This is appropriate for people who have a high enough income to support the credit line and no other credit card debt. You can use a tool like Credit Karma to find a credit card appropriate for your financial situation.
If you already have a credit card in good standing, and an income that can support a higher credit limit, you can ask to have your limit increased. This can boost your score by ten to thirty points quickly.
Bear in mind that new accounts can temporarily cause your credit score to dip. That’s because of the hard inquiry made to extend lines of credit. Don’t worry, that dip will not stay for long! Just remember to use your credit accounts responsibly:
- Keep usage low.
- Pay your bill on time.
- Pay your bill in full.
Using automatic payments is a great way to set yourself up for success. For example, you can have your car insurance payment paid by your credit card. Then you can set up your credit card to be paid automatically as well. This sets you up for success in two ways: you’ll never lapse in coverage for your car insurance, and you’ll always pay your credit card bill on time.
You have other options! You can apply for a credit builder loan and/or a secured credit card. Both use your savings as collateral. Both help you build credit quickly, sometimes in as little as thirty days. Your student loans will generally have a positive impact on your credit score so long as you make on-time monthly payments. However, if your student loans have high balances or high-interest rates, you may run into difficulty accessing other lines of credit.
If this is the case, you should consider refinancing your student loans for a lower interest rate. You should also focus on paying down your balances quickly. Not only will this improve your debt to income ration, paying down balances lets you save on what you pay in interest over the life of the loan.
Frequently Asked Questions About Raising Your Credit Score Fast
I have no one who can add me as an authorized user, what do I do?
How do my student loans affect my credit score?
You have other options! You can apply for a credit builder loan and/or a secured credit card. Both use your savings as collateral. Both help you build credit quickly, sometimes in as little as thirty days.
Your student loans will generally have a positive impact on your credit score so long as you make on-time monthly payments. However, if your student loans have high balances or high-interest rates, you may run into difficulty accessing other lines of credit. If this is the case, you should consider refinancing your student loans for a lower interest rate. You should also focus on paying down your balances quickly. Not only will this improve your debt to income ration, paying down balances lets you save on what you pay in interest over the life of the loan.
Conclusion: You Are Your Best Advocate
Radical budget changes to pay off debt isn’t easy. Taking up a side gig isn’t easy. Keeping up with your disputes isn’t easy, either. Your financial health takes all the commitment you can offer. While it may seem like a lot, keep your eyes on the prize: access to better lending opportunities can save you tens of thousands of dollars over your lifetime.
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