Your credit score, a 3 digit number, is probably one of the most important numbers —- next to your social security number. It helps lenders decide how likely it is you’re going to repay a loan on time, and if you are a responsible borrower.
What happens if you need to rapidly increase your score?
Say you want to buy a house, and need a certain score to qualify – what options do you really have?
How are credit scores calculated?
The scores are calculated using an algorithm. There is no one uniform algorithm employed by all lenders. Some models vary, like the FICO Score which ranges from 300 to 850. Each algorithm has variables it focuses on. Some scoring models will take into account your payment history on loans and credit cards higher than how much revolving credit you use regularly.
What steps can you take to improve your credit score
To start off – you should check your credit score online. When you get your score, you’ll also get information about which factors are affecting your score. The risk factors will help you understand what changes you need to make in order to build a better track record with creditors.
Certain credit scores are more important than others. For example, payment history and credit utilization ratios are among the most important in many credit models. It’s not uncommon for these 2 factors to represent up to 70% of a credit score.
Do you pay your bills on time?
When lenders look at your credit report, they’re interested in how you pay your bills. Past payment performance is a good indicator of future performance. You can positively influence your credit score FAST by paying your bills on time. Paying late, or settling for less than what you originally owe can negatively impact you.
Get credit for making utility + cell phone payments
If you’ve been paying your utility and cell phone bills on time, you can improve your credit score by factoring in these payments through a product called EXPERIAN BOOST. Wit this opt-in product, consumers can allow Experian to connect to their bank account, and identify telecom/utility payment history. After you verify the data and confirm you want it added to your credit file, you’ll see an updated FICO score.
Pay off Debt and Keep Balances Low
The credit utilization ratio is an important number. It’s calculated by adding all your credit acrd balances at any given time and dividing the amount by your total credit limit. For example, if you usually charge $2,000 each month, and your total credit limit is $10,000 – then your utilization ratio is 20%. Lenders usually prefer 30% or less. People with the best credit score have low utilization ratios.
Don’t Close Unused Credit Cards
Keep unused credit cards open. It’s a smart way to increase your credit utilization ratio.
Stop Applying For New Credit
Opening a new credit card can increase your overall credit limit, but the act of applying can create a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can negatively impact your credit score.
You should check your credit report at all three bureaus. Incorrect information can drag your score down. You should verify the account listed on your reports are correct.
Mark B. Huntley
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to increase your credit score quickly to qualify for a new loan or get the very best rates than you need to focus on increasing your revolving credit limit and lowering your utilization ratio.
Most lenders use a FICO credit score to determining your credit eligibility and 35% of your credit score will come from your revolving credit history and availability.
To increase your credit score quickly you will need to apply for revolving credit. Generally, retail store credit cards will give out larger credit limits than more traditional credit card lenders, so it makes sense to start by applying for your favorite retail store’s credit card. Keep in mind that stores that have higher cost items, such as jewelry and furniture stores, are more likely to give you bigger credit limits.
By applying for multiple retail store credit cards you will increase your revolving credit limit while driving down your utilization ratio at the same time. I’ve seen this technique result in 50+ credit score jumps in less than 30 days, when available revolving credit doubles or triples.
It’s always possible to turn bad credit into good credit. However, the time it takes to get from bad credit to good credit depends on the reason(s) your credit went bad. It’s also important to understand that some of those reasons (i.e. missed payments, collections) can remain on your credit report for seven years. But you don’t have to wait seven years to improve your credit standing. With a disciplined, proactive credit management plan, you can begin to see improvement within a year.
Missed payments: Your credit payment history is the most heavily weighted factor in determining your credit score. A missed payment is an indication of your reliability, which is what lenders are looking for. While missed payments remain on your credit report for seven years, their weighting diminishes over time. Missed payments from two years ago are not as significant as more recent missed payments. The further you can push your missed payments into the past, the more your credit score will improve.
Action step: if you still have a credit card, use it sparingly to make budgeted purchases, such as groceries and gas, but be sure to pay the balance in full each month. After 12 to 18 months, your record of on time payments will begin to stand out as your missed payments recede into the past.
If you no longer have any active credit cards, apply for a secured credit card, which is the same as an unsecured card, but the credit line is established by a savings deposit. Make budgeted purchases with the card and pay the balance each month. Your payments are still reported to the credit bureaus.
High credit card balances: The next biggest factor for measuring your credit score is your credit utilization. If your utilization of credit is too high (more than 30 percent of your available credit), creditors begin to consider whether you have the capacity to manage your credit.
Action step: Reducing your credit utilization is the quickest way to improve your credit score. Pay down your balances. Below 25 percent is your initial target, but you should shoot for zero percent utilization – and keep it there.
Too many credit inquiries: When you apply for more credit, it shows up as an inquiry on your report. Creditors view inquiries as a red flag because it indicates a need for more credit, which is not a good look when your credit standing is deteriorating.
Action step: Do not apply for more credit. If you do, don’t apply any more than one time in a six-month period.
Collections: Collections can hurt your credit score and they can remain on your credit report for seven years.
Action step: Make sure your collections are fully paid (settled collections account look bad). Before doing so, negotiate with the creditor to remove the collection from your credit report in exchange for full payment. Collectors work on commission, so they more they can collect from you, the more they are likely to cooperate.
One of the best ways to give your credit scores a boost is to pay off a smaller credit card balance in full, particularly if you have several balances and can’t afford to pay off the biggest first.
Credit utilization, which refers to your debt-to-credit-limit ratio, is a major factor in most credit scoring formulas. How your credit utilization impacts your scores varies significantly based on the specific credit score, but many scoring brands consider both your overall utilization across all credit cards, and the individual balances of each card. Paying off one credit card, and keeping the rest of your credit in the same shape, could give you a fairly large boost.
Use a credit builder loan.
Credit builder loans, unsurprisingly, are designed to help you increase your credit scores. They involve choosing a fixed amount, paying monthly until you’ve paid that amount in full plus associated fees and interest, and then receiving the money from the loan afterward.
Credit builder loans are meant to bolster your payment history, which is the most important factor in determining your FICO credit scores.
Lenders that provide credit builder loans typically allow you to pick from various term lengths — some may last only a few months, while others could last several years.
Understand that there’s no real quick fix to credit scores. The best possible approach is to evaluate your situation to see why your scores are where they are, and then address those specific problem points.
In most cases, regardless of which credit-building approach you take, it’ll take a while (often months) to see any real results appear in your scores.
Sometimes the fastest way to increase your credit score is to simply request access to more (revolving) credit!
This is assuming you meet the minimum criteria for lending with whichever credit company you’re using.
Some tactics to increase your credit score quickly are as follows:
-Ask for a credit line increase. If you’re in good standing with your credit card company (positive payment history, no delinquencies, nothing in collections, etc) but have been teetering on the brink of average to good credit it might be worth asking for a credit line increase. Some people walk around for years with a lower credit limit and meet all the criteria to have access to more but never request it. That credit card you got when you were in college making minimum wage might give you 3x your current limit based on the salary increases you’ve made over the years. Some people even “fluff” their income by a few thousand, but you didn’t hear that from me.
-Get added as an authorized user. If you have someone you trust (and who trusts you) and they have a high credit limit, positive payment history, and no plans on making a big purchase. It might be worth asking to be added to their credit card. This is a more intimate ask for some people but you can assure them that they can either have the copy of the card with your name sent to their address or you can show them yourself destroying the card. You don’t need to USE the card, you just need to show you have access to the credit line and payment history.
-Apply for a new credit card. Now this may have an immediately negative impact on your score especially if you aren’t approved however part of the credit mix includes a variety of credit accounts. Let’s say that old credit card you have from college that has a low limit isn’t really attractive in terms of benefits, or you just have a high interest balance on the card you need to get rid of. Applying for a new card can increase the amount of credit available to you AND come with the benefit of a 0% balance transfer that allows for you to pay directly to principal for a time while decreasing your credit utilization across all cards. Some people might even combine the strategy listed above with this one by both increasing their credit limit on their current card AND applying for a new credit card. Be forewarned however, this will result in 2 hard credit inquiries.