Improving your credit score takes time and effort, but there are a few easy tricks you can use to improve boost your score within a few months.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 1 in 5 Americans have at least 1 error on their credit report, and 1 in 20 have a critical error that leads banks, card issuers and lenders to overcharge them on mortgages, car loans and credit cards. The first step to fixing errors on your credit report is to find them by ordering a free copy of your report. The next step is to dispute the errors with the 3 major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The FTC offers a sample dispute letter you can use, and reporting agencies have dispute forms online. Be sure to state your case clearly and include documentation to support your position.
Ask For Mistakes To Be Forgotten
Your payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score, and a couple of missed payments can really hurt your score. Most consumers don't know you can request creditors stop reporting missed payments to ratings agencies if you have an otherwise clean record. This is called a good-will adjustment. Write a letter to your bank or card issuer emphasizing your past good payment history and asking politely to stop reporting the missed payments. Of course, this trick only works if you have a pretty clean record already, but you can remove those few blemishes that holding back your credit score.
Become An Authorized User
Becoming an authorized user on someone else's credit card or adding an authorized user to your credit card is an easy way to give your credit score a boost. For married couples and long-term partners, this move is a no-brainer. You can both improve your credit scores just by signing on as an authorized user of each other's credit cards. Lenders look at cardholders who are authorized users differently because they are different. Statistically, cardholders who are trusted by friends, family members and partners are more reliable borrowers, which earns them a small boost to their credit score.
Lower Your Utilization Rate
One of the main factors that goes into your credit score is your utilization rate, or how much of your available credit you actually use. If you have an available credit line of $10,000, for example, and you carry a balance of $5,000, your utilization rate is 50%. That's not bad, but not great. Keeping your utilization rate below 30% shows lenders that you're a reliable borrower who doesn't max out your cards. A rate of 10% or less is ideal.
Increase Your Credit Limit
This move presents a chicken-and-egg problem: in order to increase your credit limit by adding a new card, you may need to improve your credit score first. Before trying to apply for a new card, first ask your current card issuers to increase your credit limit. There's often a "magic button" on card issuers' websites you can press to request a credit line increase.