4 ways to improve your credit
A good credit score is important. Not only could it get you lower interest rates, but it can also help you qualify for certain loans and other financial services. In fact, according to Experian, one in five Americans has a credit score that is over 800—which means they're considered "super prime." However, if your credit score isn't quite as great as that just yet, don't worry! There are plenty of ways to improve it, and some might even work faster than you think! Here are some strategies:
Understand the importance of your credit score and why you should prioritize keeping your credit score high
Your credit score is a number based on your credit history. It's used to determine whether you qualify for loans and credit cards. Sometimes, a bad credit score can keep you from renting an apartment or buying a car.
In the United States, there are two main companies that calculate consumer credit scores: FICO (which stands for Fair Isaac Corporation) and VantageScore. These companies use information from the three major reporting bureaus--Equifax, Experian and TransUnion--to assess how responsible you are with money. The higher your score, the better off you'll be when applying for new lines of credit or getting approved for larger purchases such as mortgages and car loans.
Pay all your bills on time
This is the most important thing to do when you want to build your credit score. It's also the easiest! If you’re currently paying off debt, make sure that all of your payments are on time and in full each month. This will help ensure your bills don’t go into collections and hurt your credit rating. If you have a history of late payments or defaults, it may take a little time to repair your credit score.
If you often have trouble making payments on time, prioritize putting money aside now so you can pay your bills on time and in full the next time they are due.
Avoid opening additional lines of credit unless absolutely necessary
Avoid opening additional lines of credit unless absolutely necessary. This can hurt your credit score, and it may not be worth the convenience of having a second line of credit if you are actively paying off debt.
If you are carrying a balance on your current credit cards, avoid applying for new ones. New accounts will lower the average age of your credit accounts (which is one factor in calculating your FICO score), so keep the number of open accounts low until all existing balances are paid off.
Resolve collections and any outstanding debts
The first step to improving your credit score is to make sure that all of your accounts are accurate. If you have any collections or outstanding debts, it's important to learn about them and resolve them as quickly as possible. To find out what debts you have:
- Look at old bills or statements from creditors in the mail or online at annualcreditreport.com (or call 877-322-8228)
- Check with the three major credit reporting agencies -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion -- for free by visiting annualcreditreport.com (or calling 877-322-8228) at least once every four months so they don't expire before being paid off
- If you discover that you have outstanding debts with collections, call the collection agencies and ask for more information on the debt.
Remember, you can always negotiate with the debt collector to reduce the total amount of your debt to half or even a third of the original amount. Often the debt collector will reduce the total amount if you tell them you can pay it in full now.
Work with a credit repair company
Working with a credit repair company is a good way to improve your credit score if you need it done quickly and you have the money to pay them. A good credit repair company can help improve your score, as well as work with debt collectors to resolve and negotiate collections.
If you have debt collections but are uncomfortable negotiating with the collector, a credit repair company will deal with them for you.
By following these steps, you can improve your credit score faster than you think!
There are several ways that you can improve your credit score, but ultimately the best way is to take action yourself. Credit repair companies can help with certain aspects of improving your credit score, such as removing errors from your credit report or negotiating with creditors to lower the amount of debt you owe. However, these services can be expensive and it is important that you know what they do before paying for them.
Improving your credit score is not easy, but it can be done. By following these steps and taking action yourself, you will improve your credit score faster than you think!
If you want to learn more about your credit score and financial wellbeing, take a financial health course or a homebuyer education course so you can help improve your credit today!