Are you struggling to improve your credit score or wondering why it’s important to your financial health? Your credit score is one critical measure lenders use to judge how likely you are to pay back your loan. If your score is low, you’ll have a hard time getting a loan or a reasonable interest rate.
Credit scores are based on credit reports that are stored by credit-reporting agencies or credit bureaus. Scores range from 300 to 850. Higher scores suggest to lenders that you’re likely to repay your loan. Lower scores are equated with a greater risk for the lender. As a result, individuals with lower scores have a harder time getting loans or must take on loans with high-interest rates. Additionally, people with low scores may have to put down a deposit.
There are two main scoring models used: FICO and VantageScore. The main difference between these models is how different factors are weighted when generating the score.
Fortunately, checking your credit score doesn’t impact your credit and is easy to do. Checking your score regularly can also help you notice changes quickly, so you can identify and resolve any problems that come up. Many credit card issuers will provide cardholders with access to their credit score for free.
Read on to learn 7 strategies to improve your credit score in just 30 days. While considering what you can do on your own, you can always contact the Credit Score Improvement Helpline to connect with a credit expert. They can answer your questions and do much of the heavy lifting for you.
Many factors can lower your credit score, such as paying late, exceeding your credit limits, not paying at all, keeping high credit card balances, or defaulting on a loan. Fortunately, you can raise low scores with time and the right strategies. Some strategies that can increase your credit scores in as little as 30 days include:
- Understand your credit report and credit score
- Identify problems or errors in your credit report so you can fix them
- Use less of your available credit
- Make multiple small credit card payments throughout the month
- Avoid closing any credit card accounts while trying to raise your score
- Pay your credit card and other bills on time
- Become an authorized user on another person’s credit card
Below we’ll take a closer look at each of these seven strategies to help you raise your credit score, and help improve your financial health.
7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score in 30 Days
While a higher credit score is better, a score of 700 and above is typically considered good. You can raise your credit score if it’s not measuring up. Try these strategies to raise your credit score.
1. Request your free credit report
You need to check your credit report to help you develop a plan to improve your score. Your credit report contains financial information, such as your bill payment history, current debt, loans, and missed or late payments. Lenders use the reports to decide whether to give you a loan and at what interest rate.
Every year, you can receive a free copy of your credit report from the three main credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. To get your free copy, go to AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Look for problems or errors in your credit report and fix them
Errors can occur on credit reports. You’ll need to check it to make sure the reports only contain information about you that is accurate and complete.
When reviewing your credit report, look for:
- Identity errors such as identity theft or accounts that may belong to someone with a name similar to yours
- Account status errors such as closed accounts reported as open or accounts that are incorrectly flagged as late or delinquent
- Account balance errors
You can file a dispute if there are errors. You can contact the credit reporting company and the business or person who provided the information. Try to keep a copy of all your correspondence for your records.
Your dispute has to be investigated; it’s the law. If the investigation can’t verify the accuracy of the information in the report, they must delete that item. This process can improve your credit score, sometimes even significantly, depending on the number of errors.
3. Start using less of your available credit
You have a set amount of available credit from your credit cards that you can use every month. The amount of that credit that you use is known as your credit utilization. It’s also known as your debt-to-credit ratio. Your credit utilization accounts for up to 30% of your FICO score.
Consistently maxing out your credit cards, using most of your credit limit each month, or exceeding your credit limit lowers your score. These scenarios are seen as a heightened risk to lenders, as if the ice is getting thin under your feet, and you may be about to default on your loans.
To improve your credit score, start using less of your available credit on all of your credit cards. While many experts recommend using less than 30% of your available credit each month, less than that is better.
4. Make multiple small payments during the month
You can also keep your credit utilization score lower by making multiple small payments during the month instead of waiting to pay off your whole credit card bill at once. Making these frequent, smaller payments throughout the month will lower your balance during the month. Your credit utilization will appear lower whenever the credit is examined, whether it is the beginning of the month or near the end.
5. Don’t close any credit card accounts while trying to raise your score
Keep all your credit card accounts open when you’re trying to raise your score. When you close a card, you lose that account’s credit limit. This will impact your overall credit utilization calculation since you’ll have less credit available to you.
6. Pay your credit cards and bills on time
Your payment history has the greatest influence on your credit score. Having a history of late fees brings down your score and can remain on your credit report for years.
If you’ve fallen behind or are late, you can improve the situation. First, contact the business or creditor immediately after you’ve missed a payment by 30 days or more to update them and make arrangements if possible. If that’s successful, you can ask them to refrain from reporting your missed payment to the credit bureaus.
Even if this strategy doesn’t work initially, you’ll want to get caught up quickly to avoid the same account showing up as delinquent for multiple months. If you fall behind on a payment, hope is not lost. The effect of that missed payment will fade over time, as you develop a track record of paying all bills on time.
7. Ask a trusted person with good credit if you can be an authorized user on their credit card
As an authorized user, you can use that account. You’re not the primary account holder, but you are liable if the account defaults.
The good news is that authorized users can benefit from being on a positive account with a good payment history. Once your status on the account is reported to the credit bureaus, all the account information will appear on your report. This strategy is also helpful for people who don’t have a credit history and are trying to establish one.
When deciding whether to be an authorized user on an account, make sure the account has no late payments, is in good standing, and has a low balance.
You Can Raise Your Credit Score
Raising your credit score opens doors to loans and lower interest rates. Once you have a high credit score established, you often can even negotiate lower rates on the credit cards you already have and receive higher limits. To raise your credit score, you need to understand what is causing the low score, correct any credit report errors, develop good paying habits, and use your available credit wisely.
Need more help to improve your score? The Credit Score Improvement Helpline will connect you with credit experts who will share advanced strategies and roll up their sleeves to help.