Your credit score is a reflection of the information contained in your credit report: Any improvement in the status of your credit history will be reflected in a higher credit score. Over an eight-month time period, you may be able to raise your score a substantial degree. Negative items on your credit report form the greatest impediment to a clean credit rating; in fact, serious delinquencies such as a bankruptcy can sink your score for up to 10 years. However, even with a bankruptcy on your record, you can manage to increase your score over eight months.
Pay off your balances. Reducing your existing credit balances also reduces your credit utilization, a measure of how much of your credit you're using at any given time. The amount you owe comprises 30 percent of your credit score, so reducing that amount to zero over an eight-month period will raise your score dramatically.
Make your monthly minimum payments on time. If you insist on carrying a balance, don't ever make a late payment. Paying your bills on time is the single largest contributing factor to your credit score, comprising 35 percent of your FICO score. If you have been late on a payment in the past, stringing together eight months in a row of on-time payments will help minimize the effect of your late payment.
Remove negative accounts from your credit history. Generally, delinquent accounts stay on your credit report for seven years, or 10 years, in the case of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, you may be able to negotiate the removal of a negative mark from your report in exchange for a payment to a creditor. Call any companies that you have negative accounts with and ask if they will make a "courtesy adjustment" to your account in exchange for a payment, or perhaps as credit for your long-term history as a customer.
Leave all credit accounts open. While representing a smaller percentage of your credit score, the length of your credit history does contribute 15 percent to your score. If you cancel older accounts, you will shorten the length of your credit history and damage your score. By keeping those accounts open, even if you do not use them, your credit history will lengthen. After an additional eight months of credit history, your score will improve.
Take out an installment loan. The type of credit you use makes up 10 percent of your credit score, and the more variety you have, the better. If your credit report consists exclusively of credit cards, consider taking out an installment loan, such as a car loan, or even a home mortgage, if your budget can handle the payments. Conversely, if your credit shows only an installment loan, consider adding a revolving loan such as a credit card to the mix.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA, John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served 18 years as an investment adviser. Csiszar has served as a technical writer for various financial firms and has extensive experience writing for online publications.