Building good credit doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take years to establish a solid credit history. But if your credit score is in bad shape, there are a few things to learn about how to increase your credit score quickly.
Depending on what your credit report holds, quick credit-boosting strategies might include addressing the issues that are causing your low score in the first place or adding a lot of positive information at once. These methods won’t turn bad credit into great credit overnight, but they can potentially lead to a noticeable improvement and fairly quickly.
Here are three legitimate options if want to learn how to increase your credit score quickly.
1. Remove errors and fraudulent information from your credit report
The very first thing you should do when trying to raise your credit score fast is to get copies of your existing credit report from all of the major bureaus. Look for errors, incorrect information or fraudulent accounts. The credit reporting bureaus and the companies you do business with are not perfect. According to a study done by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), one in five consumers had identified an error on their credit report that was corrected.
Even a single error, incorrect late payment, or fraudulent account can have a profound effect on your overall credit score. Make sure you’re getting credit for the credit you’ve earned. If you find anything wrong, immediately file a dispute with the credit bureau and contact the company that furnished the information to the bureau.
Give the bureau and furnisher 30 to 45 days to correct the issue. If you haven’t heard anything by then, follow up. The bureaus are required to report their findings to you, but it may require some follow-up on your part.
2. Take advantage of credit score boosting products
Many have argued for years that credit scores paint an incomplete picture of a person’s credit history. Thankfully, there are now options that supply credit bureaus with more information about your borrowing history.
Products like UltraFICO and Experian Boost allow you to provide additional information to the bureaus and lenders about your financial habits and history. This information includes things like how long certain accounts have been open, how recent and frequent bank transactions are, proof of consistent cash in your accounts, on-time bill paying and a history of positive account balances.
How do credit boost products work?
These tools require you to connect your bank accounts to its system. Once you do, it works pretty seamlessly to pull the necessary data to show positive borrowing habits that may have been missed in initial credit reports. Recently, Experian reported that over 1.3 million people had used its Experian Boost product with 844,000 seeing an increase in their score in just minutes. That’s a 65% success rate in raised credit scores.
3. Manage your credit utilization
One of the quickest ways to make major improvements to your credit picture is by lowering the percentage of your available credit you’re using. Credit utilization makes up almost 30% of your overall credit score picture.
“To make fast improvements to your credit score, remember that payment history and utilization carry the most weight, at 35% and 30% respectively,” says Oleg Yavorovskiy, CEO of Guardian Debt Relief. “Get on track with making timely payments and reduce your utilization— this means to use less than 30% of your available credit— both efforts which should help boost your score in the short-term.”
How credit utilization works
In other words, lenders and credit bureaus want to know how much money you’re borrowing that you’re authorized to borrow. For example, let’s say you have two credit cards that each have a $10,000 limit. Let’s say you’ve got a $500 balance on the first card and a $1,000 balance on the second card. Individually, you are using 5% on the first card and 10% on the second card. Overall, you are using 7.5% of your available credit.
Under 30% is not a hard and fast rule, but a guideline many experts in the industry use for a benchmark. The goal you should always aim for is as little utilization as possible.
Determining where you’re an authorized user
It’s easy to think that the only way to lower your credit utilization is to lower the amount you’ve spent on each card. While this would be effective, there are other ways you can change this ratio. If you are an authorized user on a credit card (maybe with a spouse) that is using a high percentage of the available credit, you could look to remove yourself as a user. On the other side of the coin, if your spouse or a family member has a credit card that’s not using much or any of the available credit, you can ask to be added as an authorized user. This would increase your available credit, thus, lowering the credit utilization ratio.
The bottom line
There’s a reason it’s referred to as building great credit — it takes time. That being said, there are ways you can give your credit score a quick boost in a matter of minutes, days, or weeks. Start by making sure you’re getting credit for the credit you’ve earned by checking your reports for errors. Once that’s complete, look into credit boosting programs to include a more complete picture of your financial past. Lastly, see if you’re able to make any changes to authorized users to better your credit utilization ratio.
While these steps will help in the short term, it’s important you continue to practice good long-term credit-building habits. Keep making payments on time, work to lower your overall debt, and limit the addition of new accounts. And above all else, remember not to give up. Solid discipline and continuing to do the right thing over and over again will pay off. Once you get the credit score you desire, continue your good habits to ensure you never need to worry about raising your score again.