Lauren Smith, WalletHub Staff Writer
To raise your credit score by 20 points, you can dispute errors on your credit report, pay your bills on time and lower your credit utilization. Credit scores rise and fall based on the contents of your credit report, so adding positive information to your report will offset negative entries and increase your score.
Paying down debt and disputing errors will have the most immediate impact on your score, usually providing results within 1 to 2 months. You can use WalletHub’s free credit score simulator to understand how your credit score is likely to change as a result of different actions and thus what steps you can take to improve your score the most.
How to Raise Your Credit Score by 20 Points
- Dispute Errors – Errors on your credit report can adversely impact your score. You can file a dispute with the three major credit bureaus to correct inaccurate information. The bureaus typically respond within 30 to 45 days.
- Pay Down Credit Card Debt – Paying off credit card debt reduces your credit utilization, which measures how much of your credit you’re using. Anything below 30% should keep your score from falling, and reducing your utilization to 10% or less will increase your score. Additionally, lowering your overall debt load improves your financial profile and subsequently also raises your score.
- Become an Authorized User – Becoming an authorized user on a friend’s or family member’s credit card account can increase your overall credit limit and lower your utilization. Additionally, you will benefit from the primary accountholder’s on-time payment history.
- Keep Old Accounts Open – Even if the balance is zero, you should keep old credit card accounts open because each month an account is in good standing, your creditor will report positive information to the major credit bureaus, ensuring a strong borrowing history. Closing your oldest accounts could also make your credit history look shorter than it really is.
- Apply for a Secured Credit Card – If you have limited or bad credit, a secured credit card is a useful tool. Secured cards give you high approval odds because a refundable deposit is required, the amount of which usually becomes your credit limit. Also, on-time payments raise your score in the long-term.
- Apply for a Credit Builder Loan – The funds from a credit builder loan are released to you after you make all the required payments. The on-time payments will also help you build a positive borrowing history.
- Pay Off Debt in Collections – Paying off accounts in collections can improve your credit, depending on the scoring model. Newer credit scoring models like VantageScore 3.0 ignore collection accounts with a $0 balance. As a result, paying collections accounts may boost your score. However, scores generated by older models are not impacted by paid collections.
- Pay Bills on Time – Payment history is the most important factor impacting your credit score. Making on-time payments will improve your credit over time, while late payments will cause significant damage.
- Add Rent or Utility Payments – Rent and utility accounts are not automatically listed on your credit report. Third parties like LevelCredit, Experian Boost, and eCredable Lift can send the three major credit bureaus your payment history. A record of on-time payments will improve your credit.
You can check your credit report and get personalized credit-improvement tips for free here at WalletHub.
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