If you’re like the majority of Americans with a less than optimal credit score, it’s time to get a boost. Here are 7 quick steps to give your credit score that extra kick.
1. Clean up your credit report
Get a free credit report for each of the 3 major credit reporting agencies:
By law, you’re entitled to one free report each year, no matter what.
Once you get your reports, look for any inaccuracies or errors on late payments or unpaid bills. A properly filed dispute will fix these and do wonders for your credit score.
2. Pay off your balance
There are plenty of theories on the best way to manage credit, but Experian says it’s best to have no more than 30 percent. In other words, you should never have more than $3,000 charged at any time if you have a $10,000 limit.
If you’re over that ratio, then paying off the excess balance is a good way to improve your score.
3. Pay twice a month
If you accrue a large balance every month, it looks like you’re overdrawing your credit.
If every month, you hit your limit. Your card company is reporting your balance monthly. So it shows you having a 100 percent credit utilization rate, which can hurt your credit score.
You can help ease the problem by breaking up your credit card payments. Use your card for everything so you get your rewards, but make payments twice a month to keep your balance down.
Need to make a large purchase? If you have the cash handy, charge it on your card and then pay it off immediately.
4. Increase your credit limit
If you’re not in a good place to pay off your balances. A different approach is to call your credit card company and get a credit limit increase.
If you max out your $1,000 card and get a limit increase to $2,000, you cut your credit in half. Don’t spend your new credit. It defeats the purpose of an increase if you charge the card up to $2,000.
5. Open a new account
If your current credit card company won’t you a credit increase, apply for a card from a different issuer. It still helps your credit use rate, since your score lumps all your credit lines together.
Be careful, since opening many accounts at once isn’t good either. Requesting a bunch of new accounts makes it look like you’re going on a spending spree. Don’t ding your credit score. Just apply for only one or two new cards if you’re going this route.
6. Negotiate outstanding balances
You can’t wipe out past mistakes from your credit report, but you can do some damage control by settling them.
The most important step is to get an agreement in writing.
If you don’t have any cash on hand to offer a settlement, you can sell some of your stuff or try one and earn some extra cash online.
7. Become an authorized user
If none of the above suggestions helps you. There is one final option, get added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card.
You’ll need to find someone who loves you and who manages their money well. This special person who is doing you a HUGE favor, you need to explain you have no intention of using their credit card, let them hold onto it. You want to be added to their account as a way to build credit.
When you’re an authorized user, the account will show up on your credit report so long as the card is issued in your name. As a result, your credit score gets a boost.