Your credit score is one of the most critical numbers that follows you. It can be the key to unlocking great financing and loans or the roadblock on the patch towards a solid financial future. If a less-than-perfect credit score limits your options, we’ve got some tips that will help you break free. Read on to learn how to raise your credit score 100 points in just 30 days!
What Are Credit Scores?
A credit score is a rating of your creditworthiness. Creditworthiness is a judgment of your overall ability to manage debt responsibly. Credit scores are three-digit numbers, ranging from 300–850. The higher your credit score, the better your credit rating:
- 300–499 Very Bad Credit
- 500–600 Bad Credit
- 601–660 Fair Credit
- 661–780 Good Credit
- 781–850 Excellent Credit
Credit bureaus are data collection companies that analyze consumers’ information and financial habits. The three credit bureaus reporting on Americans today are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These credit bureaus calculate credit scores.
When you have a loan or a line of credit, your lender or credit card issuer will send the credit bureaus information on how you handle your account. Credit bureaus compile this information into your credit report.
Your credit report records activity in the five following categories:
Your payment history is the record of late payments to your creditors. Payment history clearly shows a lender how well you stick to your loan agreement, which is why a positive payment history most significant impact on your credit score.
A credit utilization ratio displays how much of your available credit you are using. Let’s say that you have a credit card with a max credit limit of $1,000. At the end of your billing cycle, the balance on your card is $250. That means that your credit utilization is 25%.
Your credit history lists all your past and current accounts. A long history of good payment will show lenders that you can operate responsibly with a line of credit or a loan.
Each time you apply for credit, the creditor will inquire to one or more of the bureaus into the details of your activity. These reports determine whether or not you are eligible for that particular financial product. Multiple credit inquiries can harm a credit score; some lenders may see that activity as a frantic search for financing.
A credit mix is a combination of different types of credit, such as personal loans, mortgages, or consumer credit cards. Managing a credit card wisely, along with other types of debt, can make a credit mix that’s attractive to new lenders. Credit mix has the most negligible impact on your credit score, so if you only have credit cards or a couple of personal loans, it’s more important that they are well managed.
Good Credit and Bad Credit
New lenders will most likely give you good loans with a low-interest rate if you have a good credit history. Online bad credit loans are available for people with not-so-great scores, but rates and terms for these loans will vary. If your credit history is unfavorable, you could be denied a loan altogether.
Tips for Raising Your Credit Score
If you need to get your credit score moving in the right direction, consider using these tips to raise your rating fast:
Fix Credit Report Errors
Learning how to fix credit report errors is by far the best thing you can do to improve your credit score quickly. Credit report errors are not uncommon, which means that positive activity that would improve your credit score could get overlooked. The difference between poor and fair credit scores can be a simple clerical mistake. Common report errors include:
- Identification errors happen due to misspelled names or incorrect addresses. You could also share the same name with a person with a delinquent account or have your name associated with someone who used to live in your home.
- Lack of updates to account information can make a closed account look open or make a current account appear delinquent.
- Unidentified accounts that aren’t yours can appear on your credit report. If they are delinquent, they will negatively affect your credit score.
You can take some steps to dispute credit report errors on your credit reports.
The first thing to do is request a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Credit report errors can differ across the credit bureaus, so you need to check each one. If you find any errors, write down the details.
Contact the agency and file a dispute using their online form or by calling them and speaking with customer service representatives. Make sure you have all the details about the error handy, so they can help you right away without having to research it themselves. In the end, you are the only one that is truly responsible for making sure that your report is accurate.
Pay Your Bills on Time
As we mentioned, your payment history is the most important factor in keeping good credit scores. That means that it is essential to pay your bills on time, every time.
But of course, life happens. There are many reasons you might not make monthly payments on time. It might be due to a change in your life situation, like sudden expenses or lack of money.
If you’re struggling with paying bills:
- Prioritize essential bills over other expenses
- Contact your creditor to request a due date extension or make payment arrangements
- Make a partial payment, if possible
Regardless of the reason, if you ever find yourself unable to pay your bills on time, you must take steps to rectify the situation before it becomes more serious.
Lower Your Credit Utilization Ratio
Next to payment history, your credit utilization ratio heavily influences your credit score. Dropping and maintaining your utilization under 30% will show that you are not only using credit but paying it back at a steady rate. After all, lenders love when you use credit!
Become an Authorized User
A simple way to raise your credit score is to become an authorized user of someone else’s credit card. Even though you are not the primary cardholder, you could benefit from being associated with a credit account with low credit utilization.
How To Maintain a Good Credit Score
The tips we’ve discussed here can help you boost your credit score fast. But how can you make sure that your credit score continues to improve? Here are some habits to consider including in your life.
Use a Budget
A budget is a financial tool that just about everyone should use. It gives you a chance to set goals, save money, or make big purchases.
For many, budgeting can seem like a complicated and confusing task. But in reality, it is just a series of lists. These lists break down your spending into categories you pay each month and help you keep things under control.
Grab a calendar and pen, and write down the amount and due date of every bill you pay each month. Add up how much you spent on these bills last month. Then subtract your expenses from your total monthly income. The amount you have leftover can be used however you like.
If you don’t want to go old school, you can use any of the dozens of budgeting apps and online tools to input spending and remind you of due dates.
Regardless of what method you use to budget your finances, stick to your budget. Sure, you may need to make changes or adjustments as your priorities change, but keeping a steady payment schedule will always positively impact your credit score.
Pay More Than the Minimum Due
Nearly every line of credit or loan offers consumers the option to pay the “minimum due” on their balance. This amount is the smallest credit card payment that an account holder must pay to keep their account current. This amount is determined by the credit card issuer and based on your balance and the current rate of interest.
Although it may seem like a relief to have a small payment due, this minimum payment makes a minimal impact on decreasing your balance. And the longer you keep a balance, the more interest you’ll have to pay.
If you see that your credit utilization ratio is too high (greater than 30%), it’s time to pay more than the minimum amount due. Making this a regular habit can also help you raise your credit limit.
It can be discouraging to discover that you have a low credit score. However, by building some good financial habits, you can raise your credit score quickly—and keep it soaring.