How to Increase Your Credit Score by 20 Points

by Heather Mark, Demand Media
    Baby steps towards healthy credit are key to raising your credit score.

    Baby steps towards healthy credit are key to raising your credit score.

    A decade ago most people didn't even know what a credit score was. Today you need to reveal your score just to get a second date with some people. It's more important than ever to secure that 700+ credit score if you're trying to buy a home, take out a student loan or finance a vehicle. But if you've been financially reckless, or if you've been the victim of identity theft, your credit score is probably pretty undesirable. The good news is that it just takes a little discipline to be on the right track to a higher credit score.

    Items you will need

    • Copies of your credit report

    Step 1

    Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain copies of your credit report. They will provide you with access to your credit reports on the three major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Check for errors on the report like accounts that don't belong to you, late payments that you actually made on time, or any paid off debt older than seven years. If you find any errors, have them corrected.

    Step 2

    Pay every single bill on time. You can improve your credit score by 20 points in one month if you pay the minimum payment due on every utility bill, credit card and loan and you pay them on time. Paying them early can also help.

    Step 3

    Reduce the amount you owe. It works in your favor to have small balances so creditors can see you are conservative in your spending.

    Step 4

    Don't rush to close credit card accounts all at once. If your debt total is spread among several accounts, you appear to have a reasonable ratio of debt to available credit. When several accounts are closed simultaneously, it appears that you have a large amount of debt with very little available credit. This can cause your credit score to drop.

    Step 5

    Pay down accounts that are close to their limits. Many financial experts advise paying down the ones with the highest rates first, but when you're trying to boost your score quickly, it's best to get way under that credit limit umbrella. Maintaining a balance lower than 30 percent of your credit limit is ideal.

    Tip

    • AnnualCreditReport.com is the only way you want to access your credit reports. It was created by Experian, Equifax and Transunion and its reporting is in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act. It is the only organization authorized by the "big three" to provide consumers with their credit reports. Although the service is free to obtain your credit reports, you will have to pay a fee to see your numerical credit score.

    About the Author

    Heather Mark is a writer and traveler living in Central Florida. Her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "International Travel News," "Pregnancy Magazine," "The Orlando Sentinel" and "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution." Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts in visual and media arts from Emerson College.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images