There’s no “instant” button, but there are things you can do now that will help increase your score.
Before we get started, there’s a big ugly truth to face: There’s no quick fix for your credit.
A reset button sounds tempting — especially when faced with a less than stellar credit score — but building your credit is a marathon affair. There’s legwork involved in netting that higher number.
Now that that ominous forewarning is out of the way (phew), on to the good stuff: actionable tips to raise your credit score swiftly and without financial risk. You can expect most of these tips to affect your credit score in about 30 to 60 days, the typical time that’s considered speedy.
If raising your credit seems impossible, take a step back from the big hairy goal and tackle the beast one step at a time.
So, first things first!
Request a copy of your credit report and look for errors
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission shared findings that roughly one in five consumers carries an error on their credit report. Find an error? Dispute it. Removing negative marks made in error will help you return to your correct score.
Write a negotiation letter to your credit bureau
Better yet, contact the company reporting a late payment to ask if it will campaign for the removal. If a payment was incorrectly reported (see above), or if you simply forgot a bill when you’re usually 100% on the ball, you may be able to get the late payment removed.
Lower your credit utilization to decrease your debt-to-credit ratio
Traditionally, you can lower your credit utilization rate two ways:
- Lower your spending.
- Increase your credit.
Your credit is largely determined by the amount of debt (credit card and loans) compared with your credit limits. Go back through your spending and consider whether you’ve spent more than the recommended amount of your credit line (generally around one-third of the limit).
Alternatively, you can request an increase in your credit or open a new card as a way of increasing your credit-to-spending ratio, but this is a risky move if it also results in an increase of spending. Be wary of raising limits if it wouldn’t be financially feasible to pay back any and all spending.
Don’t apply for multiple forms of credit in a short time
Each time you request a new form of credit, including car and home loans, etc, you’ll likely face a credit inquiry. Too many inquiries within a short time, and the credit bureaus may ding your credit.
Keep this in mind as you request increases to your credit or open up new cards. Both actions may result in one too many credit pulls and consequently, a decrease in your credit score.
Settle late payments — then automate your payment schedule
Timely bill pay is gut-wrenching when you’re financially strapped, but proactively settling bills will make future payments easier.
Credit bureaus count a late payment starting from the first day of your last late payment, so the sooner you can square the bill, the better. This is particularly true if you can pay off past-due debts before they reach the 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day thresholds. It’s scary to confront the financial challenge, but it’s doable.
Once you’ve settled any late payments, make future payments even simpler by automating. Automation avoids accidental missed payments and takes the mental clutter of scheduling multiple payments off your mind.
Building credit builds long-lasting habits.
Approaching the daunting task of increasing your credit score with the long-term-training mindset helps you build long-lasting habits that strengthen your financial foundation.