WalletHub, Financial Company
The fastest ways to improve your credit score are to pay down your balances, dispute incorrect information on your credit report, make more frequent payments, and reduce credit utilization. Credit utilization (how much of your credit limits you use each month) contributes to a portion of your credit score that accounts for 20% - 30% of your overall score. So, an adjustment there can result in a big credit boost pretty quickly. Similarly, you can dispute incorrect information with a quick online request or phone call. You won’t always get an immediate credit score increase, but correcting errors on your credit report is a great place to start.
There are a few other ways to increase your credit score quickly, from becoming an authorized user to increasing your credit limit. They may not all be equally effective for everyone, as it can take years to build a consistently good or excellent credit score. In fact, some strategies could send your credit score in the wrong direction before leading to an increase. For example, requesting a credit limit increase can result in a hard inquiry that damages your credit a bit in the short-term, but having more credit available could produce long-term gains if used responsibly.
Here’s how to improve your credit score fast:
- Pay down your balances. If you aren’t eligible for a credit limit increase, focus on paying down existing debt. Paying down a large chunk of debt at once will help your credit utilization ratio and bump up your score. If you can’t make a large payment all at once, try to pay more than just the minimum monthly amount. If you have multiple debts, start by making payments on the debt that has the highest interest rate so you can limit interest charges.
- Dispute incorrect information on your credit report. You should file a dispute for any incorrect negative info on your report. Once the dispute goes through, incorrect items will drop off your file, and your score should improve. You may have to wait 30 days for the credit bureau to review your dispute before you see any changes.
- Make more frequent payments. Credit utilization is calculated based on the statement balance on each of your credit cards. You can reduce these balances, thus decreasing your credit utilization and increasing your credit score, by making payments before the end of each billing period. Then, pay off the remaining balance by the due date to avoid interest charges and credit-score damage.
- Become an authorized user. If you’re just starting out, or your credit report has a string of negative marks, a good move would be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card and build your credit over time. Just make sure the primary holder is responsible and pays their bills on time.
- Add new payments to your credit file. There are new services that can add positive information, like on-time utility payments, rent payments, and positive bank balances to your credit report. Not all of these programs apply to all credit bureaus, and some cost money to utilize, but they could boost your credit score over a few months.
- Increase your credit limit. A higher credit limit can reduce your credit utilization ratio, assuming your spending does not increase. The only potential problem is that asking for a credit limit increase usually results in a hard credit inquiry, which would temporarily hurt your credit score a bit. But if you get a credit limit increase without asking, or you have a few months before you need the highest credit score possible, a higher limit could definitely help.
Everyone’s credit situation is different, so not every option will be relevant or available to you. The best way to find out exactly what you can do to quickly improve your score is to check out the personalized advice in the Credit Analysis section of your WalletHub dashboard.
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Mark Dennis, Resident Financial Planner
As you stated, the number one best way to improve your credit score is by paying the bills on time. The next best action to take for improving your credit score is to reduce the amount of unpaid credit card balances you carry each month. Credit reporting agencies compare the ratio of your unpaid balances to the amount of your available credit limits. Keeping this ratio below 30% (ideally zero) will help further improve your score over time.
Learn more about managing credit and other important personal finance topics in our new book What Your Financial Advisor Isn’t Telling You”
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