12 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

If you are like many consumers and don’t know your credit score, there are several free places you can find it. The Discover Card is one of several credit card sources that offer free credit scores. Discover provides your FICO score, the one used by 90% of businesses that do lending. Most other credit cards like Capital One and Chase give you a Vantage Score, which is similar, but not identical. Same goes for online sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle.

The Vantage Score comes from the same place that FICO gets its information – the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax – but it weighs elements differently and there could be a slight difference in the two scores.

Once you get your score, as Homonoff suggested, you might be surprised if it’s not as high as you expected. These are ways to improve the score.

Here are 12 things you can do now to improve your credit score:
  1. Review Your Credit Report – You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three reporting agencies and requesting one has no impact on your credit score. Review the report closely. Dispute any errors that you find. This is the closest you can get to a quick credit fix. Notifying the credit reporting agency of wrong or outdated information will improve your score as soon as the false information is removed.
  2. Set Up Payment Reminders – Write down payment deadlines for each bill in a planner or calendar and set up reminders online. Consistently paying your bills on time can raise your score within a few months.
  3. Pay More Than Once in a Billing Cycle – If you can afford it, pay down your bills every two weeks rather than once a month. This lowers your credit utilization and definitely improves your score.
  4. Contact Your Creditors – Do this immediately to set up a payment plan if you miss payment deadlines and can’t afford your monthly bills. Quickly addressing your problem can ease the negative effects of late payments and high outstanding balances.
  5. Apply for New Credit Sparingly – Although it increases your total credit limit, it hurts your score if you apply for or open several new accounts in a short time period.
  6. Don’t Close Unused Credit Card Accounts – The age of your credit history matters, and a longer history is better. If you must close credit accounts, close newer ones.
  7. Be Careful Paying Off Old Debts – If a debt is “charged off” by the creditor, it means they do not expect further payments. If you make a payment on a charged off account, it reactivates the debt and lowers your credit score. This often happens when collection agencies are involved.
  8. Pay Down “Maxed Out” Cards First – If you use multiple credit cards and the amount owed on one or more is close to the credit limit, pay that one off first to bring down your credit utilization rate.
  9. Diversify Your Accounts – Your credit mix — mortgage, auto loans, student loans and credit cards — counts for 10% of your credit score. Adding another element to the current mix helps your score, as long as you make on-time payments.
  10. Quick Loan Shopping – If you have bad credit and can’t find any other way to improve your score, you could consider taking a “quick loan.” These are typically loans for small amounts — $250 to $1,000 — that get repayment history reported to credit agencies, and can become a positive on your credit report. This is a last resort.
  11. See If You Qualify for a 0% Interest Card – Several companies offer cards with 0% interest on balances, but there are caveats to this. There can be a fee for transferring the balance and the zero-percent offer is only good for an introductory period, typically 12-18 months. It usually takes a very good credit score to qualify for one of these.
  12. Consider a Debt Consolidation Plan – There could be a temporary drop in your credit score if you enroll in a debt consolidation program, but as long as you make on-time payments, your score quickly improves and you are eliminating the debt that got you in trouble to start with.

Check Also

Pay Day Loans

Payday loans Vs. Personal loans: Which is the Better Pick?

Even though they might sound the same to a layperson, a payday loan and a …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *