If you have been turned down for a car loan, mortgage or (yikes!) even a job, chances are your credit rating is in the tank and is a major contributor to your bad karma. A poor credit rating can have serious repercussions on your ability to live your life fully. But, there are some relatively simple and quick things you can do to drastically boost your score.
Steps to a Dramatic and Quick Increase in Your Credit Score
The fastest way to increase your credit score is to pay down your credit-card balances. About a third of your credit score is determined by your credit-utilization ratio, the total of your card balances divided by the total of your credit-card limits. A good target to shoot for is 20 percent or less. If you are after that car loan and your ratio is too high, consider asking a relative for a loan to pay the balances down. Just make sure you pay back the loan in full and on time or risk some family dysfunction.
Get a collection agency to remove a debt from your report if you pay it. This is known as "pay for delete" and works well for debts under $500, especially medical bills. Make sure you have a written agreement before you pay the debt.
Have a family member add you on their credit card as an authorized user. The older your credit history, the better. So, if mom has had her card for 20 years, you could see your own score rise dramatically. And, you do not even have to have the card in your possession, which may make mom feel better about helping you out.
Ask a creditor for forgiveness. This works if you missed or were late with a car payment or two and the finance company has not turned your account over to a collection agency but has provided information on the delinquency to the credit-rating companies. You can ask your creditor to erase the negative listing by writing a "goodwill" letter. While there is no guarantee your auto loan company will do this, the method has a higher chance of success if you were not chronically delinquent.
Target easy errors in your credit report. Late payments and charge-offs that are truly not yours should be removed as they can severely damage your score. If they are yours, they should drop off your credit report after seven years. Sometimes a company will remove the negative information earlier if you ask. While this method is not exactly hassle-free, it is well worth considering.
- Monitor your credit score by pulling your free credit report each year. This effort will help you keep your credit score accurate and make you more attuned to good personal financial management.
Lisa Nielsen is a marketing consultant for small businesses and start-ups. As part of her consultancy, she writes advertising copy, newsletters, speeches, website content and marketing collateral for small and medium-sized businesses. She has been writing for more than 20 years. She is also a business strategist, trainer and executive coach. Nielsen holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Miami.