Improve your credit score in 30 days…sounds a little bit like mission impossible, doesn’t it? If you’ve had credit lines open for years, it might seem unrealistic to boost your credit score in just one month. But we’re here to let you know that you can do it!
With a little bit of effort, you could be just 30 days away from reaching your financial goals! Learn more about the benefits of an improved credit score and how to do it below.
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Why Do You Need to Boost Your Credit Score?
Let’s look at your long-term financial goals, shall we? Perhaps you live with a significant other, perhaps not. But regardless if you’ve got one credit score or two in the equation, credit scores can give or take away from you, future goals and opportunities.
Hope to buy a home? Your credit score will certainly be considered- and could be the reason your application is accepted or rejected. Want to take out a loan in your dream car? Your credit score actually determines the rate. Need to buy a house and rent an apartment? Yup, your credit score will be looked at then too.
So, now that you understand the big implications of one little number, let’s talk about how to boost your credit score. (And remember, if you have a spouse or significant other, share this information with them too. Romantic couples aren’t just partners in love, but partners in finance too!)
10 Easy Hacks to Improve Your Credit Score
1. Know your credit score first (3 credit bureaus)
First of all, it’s hard to improve your credit score if you don’t know where you stand. Without your current score, how can you know your end goal? How will you know how many points stand between you and excellent credit?
Believe it or not, there are three separate main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. While you might assume that your credit score is the same at all three institutions, it’s actually not. Why?
First, each credit score bureau puts a different amount of weight on different facts of your score. Second, if you know all three of your bureau scores, you’ll know where your score is the highest. This is obviously the bureau to ask lenders to refer to when running your credit report.
Here’s the equivalent of each score:
2. Dispute any inaccuracies
Ever lose points on a test in school because your teacher graded a question wrong? Believe it or not, the same thing can happen to your credit score. To avoid losing unnecessary points and improve your credit score, be diligent about looking at your score reports. Check your report from all three bureaus and see if there are any mistakes.
Were you flagged for a late payment that was actually on time? Or perhaps there was fraudulent activity on your credit card account. Calling your lenders to resolve these inaccuracies takes a little bit of time and thoroughness, but your credit score will certainly thank you!
3. Pay all your debts
This is one of the most effective ways to improve your credit score. To do this, take an honest look at all of your credit cards and/or loans. Are there any outstanding balances, aside from the regular monthly payments?
Start with the largest debt and begin to pay it down. For 30 days, cut out all luxuries from your monthly budget. Cash that would normally go to date nights, Starbucks, or unnecessary subscriptions should go towards paying off this large debt.
Of course, this may take more than 30 days to accomplish; that’s ok. But if you stick to a payment plan, you should see it affect your credit score within one month.
4. Pay on time (set a schedule)
In the age of automatic payments, there’s nothing more frustrating than a late payment ruining your credit score. To avoid this, call your lender (i.e. credit card company or loan lender) and ask them to remove the late payment.
Explain your situation. Tell them that to avoid this happening again in the future you want to sign up for auto payments. Not only will this stop future late payments, but your lender might also erase your most recent late payment. Two birds, one stone!
5. Ask for credit increase
This is a great way to boost your credit score, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re the type of spender who will spend more with an increased line of credit, we DO NOT recommend this approach for you.
However, if you believe you can maintain the same monthly spending with a higher line of credit, go for it! Why? Because the percentage of credit spent will go down. This implies to your lender that you are a pro at managing your credit…and all it takes is one phone call!
6. Credit Card Utilization
The credit utilization ratio is something you must understand in order to make sense of our next few tips. Perhaps you’ve broken down the term to mean, “how much you use your credit card.” This is essentially correct. This ratio tells your lenders how much money you spend as compared to how much credit is available to you.
One way to a great credit score is a low credit utilization ratio. For example, if you spend $500 per month on your credit card and the credit limit on that card is $1,000, your credit utilization ratio is 50%. That is quite high! Especially considering that lenders hope to see a utilization ratio of 30% or less.
e.g. (500/1,000 )*100 = 50%
Therefore, it helps your ratio to do one of two things: Either ask for more credit or spread spending out among other credit cards with different limits.
7. Mix it up (Get more credit cards)
Some borrowers open up one credit card when they’re 18 and think they’re on their way to great credit. While it’s certainly a start, it’s also not the whole story. Credit score bureaus like to see a mix of credit lines that borrowers can manage responsibly.
Therefore, if you already have a credit card, start a new line of credit like a small loan. This can be for something as big as a car to as small as new prescription eyeglasses. (Of course, don’t take out a loan without a responsible reason; that might do more harm than good!)
Another way you can “mix up” your credit is to vary your credit card usage. While we all may have one main credit card we depend on, credit bureaus want to see a range. If you have multiple credit cards, use them! Even if they all just have one purchase on them each month it shows a more diverse range of credit.
8. Avoid applying to many credit cards at once
Ok, maybe you just read the paragraph above and thought, “I better start opening new credit cards!” No, please don’t! Opening new credit cards will improve your credit score in the long run, but the immediate effect? A dip in your credit score.
This is for two reasons. First, the new credit card company will need to check your credit score…which knocks your score a few points. Second, a new credit card could mean a lower credit utilization ratio. While this will recover in a couple months with responsible credit card usage, it’s certainly not the 30-day credit score solution you might be looking for.
9. Don’t close old credit cards
Now, maybe you just read the tip above and thought, “I should close those credit cards I don’t use…” A common misconception. By closing an old credit, you are negatively affecting your score in two ways. First, you are making it appear as though you are spending more money (your credit card utilization ratio increases when you have an outstanding balance).
Second, with each credit card comes the amount of time you have had it. When you close a credit card, it looks as though you have held credit for a shorter period of time. Remember, your credit age is 15% of your credit score!
To avoid this, do the opposite of closing old credit cards…use them! Don’t go crazy of course, but start to spread out normal monthly expenses amongst all your active credit cards.
10. Get added as an authorized user
If you have a spouse, it might be time to pop that question: “Can I be an authorized user?” Your goal here is to be added to the account, but not actually use the credit card. How might this improve your credit score?
Ask the credit card company in question if they report authorized user activity to the credit report bureaus. If they do, this is great news!
By this, we mean that if your spouse has good credit habits, and you are now added to their account, that good history will show up on your report too.
CAUTION: However, if your spouse begins to miss payments or acquire debt, you’ll also have to deal with those credit consequences. This is one of those, “enter at your own risk” type of tips, if you catch our drift.
We hope our tips and tricks above help you improve your credit score and therefore reach your financial goals.
…But, if reaching your financial goals doesn’t motivate you enough, make a credit score checklist and hang it up. Over the course of 30 days, implement our advice, and check off each task above as you complete them.
If you were able to boost your credit score, let us know how you did it in the comments below! What financial goals were you able to reach with the new score increase? Got any more advice to add? We can’t wait to hear about it all below!
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