16% of Americans have a credit score of below 579. This is the lowest level of the FICO score and is categorized as “very poor”.
A poor credit score can have a serious impact on your personal life and can affect your business negatively as well.
While no one can guarantee that you will hit an exceptional score, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score.
Here are seven tips to raise your credit score quickly.
1. Check Your Report for Errors and Omissions
The very first step to take is to get a copy of your credit card report. This is the only way to know where you stand before you figure out the specific actions to take to make things better.
This is, however, not all you will be doing with your report. Go through it carefully, checking for any error and omissions.
Look for things like a repaid debt that’s been listed as a default or a loan you repaid on time that is not listed.
If you identify any of these issues, move to have them corrected. This action in itself can add a few points to your rating.
2. Negotiate on Outstanding Balances
You will be surprised at how helpful your creditors can be. Unfortunately, if you never ask, you will never find out.
If you are having trouble making payments, make contact with your credit card issuer and communicate this with them.
Most providers have temporary hardship programs you can take advantage of. The benefit of this is that you can have your repayment amounts reduced until you get back on your feet.
Smaller, more manageable installments mean you can pay a lot more comfortably. This is better than skipping payments and having a creditor send a negative report that sheds a few points off your score.
3. Get Added as an Authorized User
This is a great way of giving your credit score an immediate boost. This works particularly well if you are just starting out and have little information on your credit rating.
You do this by getting someone with a high credit card limit and an even greater repayment history. Their card issuer sends them a card with your name on it.
Legally, you are not obligated to make payments on any debt accrued on the card. But its usage reflects positively on your credit score.
The key is finding someone with above board transactions. In a sense, you inherit the person’s positive credit history.
However, not all credit card companies report authorized users. Before you get on it, do your research and find out if it will be reported.
4. Ask Creditors to Delete Late Payments
It’s not uncommon to fall behind on payments from time to time. However, these small mistakes lower your credit score.
If you are in good standing with your creditors, it does not hurt to request them to delete some of the reported late payments. Financial institutions regularly communicate with Credit Referencing Bureaus, and all it would take is a quick phone call on your behalf.
If the request goes through, then you will have fewer negative reports, which will add some points to your credit rating. Nevertheless, try and restrict your late payments to 30 days. Creditors will not report late dues failing in this time frame.
If your issue is forgetfulness, rather than availability of funds, you can have your banker or employer make direct payments if this facility is available. If not, there are numerous software tools you can use to remind you when your payments are due.
5. Old Debts Can Raise Your Credit Score Quickly
You might be eager to forget about your car loan or student loan debts once you make the final payment.
However, as long as you completed your payments promptly, those records may help your scoring. The same is true for credit card debt.
All you need to do is keep these debts on your record. If they were entirely left out, then provide all the information to the credit Reference Bureau so they can use it to calculate your credit score.
Bad payment histories are deleted with time. However, bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years and late payments for seven years. You don’t have much leeway with these.
6. Watch Your Credit Utilization Rate
Credit utilization is the amount of credit card balance you have compared to your credit limit.
This is the second largest factor affecting your credit score. The first is your credit repayment history.
The more credit you use on your credit card, the further down your credit rating drops. This trend indicates you are spending a significant portion of your income to repay debt, which makes you likelier to default on payments.
The best credit utilization is 0, which means your credit card limit is untouched. This defeats the purpose of applying for a credit card in the first place.
As a rule of thumb, keep your credit utilization ratio at 30%. This means using less than 30% of the credit limit availed to you. Anything above this can cause your rating to drop.
Under the FICO system, people with the highest scores have a utilization rate of 7%. The lower your utilization, the better.
7. Jump on Score Boosting programs
The average age and number of accounts you have held are an important consideration in evaluating how you handle debt.
This tends to disadvantage people with a limited credit history.
UltraFico and Experian Boost allow people with limited credit histories to puff it up using other information.
Experian requires access to your online banking data and allows Credit Referencing Bureaus to add utility payments to your history.
In the same way, UltraFico allows you to give permissions for savings and checking accounts to be used alongside your report when calculating your credit score.