Increasing your credit score significantly won’t happen quickly; however, there are things you can do to improve your credit rating by a few points at a time. Although FICO doesn’t explain to consumers exactly how it uses data when calculating credit scores, any small improvements can add up. How much your credit score will increase also depends on your current score. The credit-reporting agency Experian points out that it’s difficult to predict how a single action will impact your credit rating. The good news is that some strategies pay off sooner than others.
Reduce the amount of debt you owe. Paying down balances increases your available credit limits, which can add a few extra points to your credit score in a hurry. The bigger the balances, the more points you can score. Credit scores are updated about every 30 days; therefore, your score will take into account any payments you make that lower your balances. According to Kiplinger, paying down credit-card balances is one of the quickest ways to boost your credit score.
Pay your bills before the due date each month. Building a record of continuous, on-time payments is one way to raise your credit score. Even if you can only make the minimum payment due, you don’t want late payments listed on your credit report. Just one late payment can drop your FICO score by 60 to110 points. If you have trouble staying current with your bills, Bankrate suggests contacting your creditors and asking whether they can reduce your monthly payments or change the due dates. Automating payments is another way to make sure that your bills get paid on time.
Order a copy of your free credit report from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus (see Resources). Look each over carefully for any wrong information. Credit bureaus don’t take the time to verify the information they receive from creditors, so it’s up to you to stay on top of your credit history. Mistakes or inaccurate information on your credit report can negatively impact your credit score.
Dispute any errors you find on your credit report. Having negative items removed can quickly raise your score. Contact the credit bureau in writing, providing details and documents supporting why certain information is inaccurate. The credit bureau will have 30 days to investigate and correct any mistakes. Correcting errors on your credit report is a fast way to raise your credit score.
Wait a full billing cycle after paying off a credit-card bill before you charge any new purchases. That way you can time when the credit-card company reports your balance to the credit bureaus. By waiting, your account will show a low balance, which keeps your debt-to-income ratio lower. Card companies often calculate credit scores shortly before the bill is due. Yet toward the end of the billing cycle is when cardholders usually have the most charges. You want your report to show that much of your available credit limit is unused as this will help raise your credit score.