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Six ways to raise your credit score
When you apply to take out a loan or a credit card, having a high credit score can help you qualify for better interest rates, higher credit limits, and other favorable conditions. If you have a low credit score, you may be wondering how you can raise your credit score fast. While it isn’t really possible to raise your credit score overnight, there are ways to increase it within a few months.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Raising your credit score quickly
- Become an authorized user
- Check for errors on your credit report
- Pay down your credit card balances
- Request a higher credit limit
- Report your rent and utility payments
- Apply for a credit-builder loan
- Your credit score is based on the information in your credit reports. These reports are usually updated every 30 to 45 days.
- You may be able to raise your credit score by becoming an authorized user, disputing errors on your credit report, reducing your credit utilization rate, reporting your rent and utility payments to the credit bureaus, or taking out a credit-builder loan.
Raising your credit score quickly
Your credit score is calculated using the information in your credit reports, which are usually updated once a month. It may take up to 45 days for your credit reports, and your credit score, to reflect positive changes in your credit activity.
- Credit history – The details of your past and present credit use
- Credit report – A written or digital record containing this information
- Credit score – A three-digit number based on this information
Even if you can’t increase your credit score overnight, there are ways to give it a quick boost. Here are six strategies you may want to try.
1. Become an authorized user
One easy way to increase your credit score is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. Ideally, you want to ask a family member or close friend with a high credit score whether they will add your name to their account. As an authorized user, you’ll get to have this person’s on-time payments listed on your own credit report. This can improve your credit score quickly.
2. Check for errors on your credit report
Lenders and credit bureaus sometimes make mistakes. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as one-third of U.S. consumers have errors on their credit reports. If this is the case for you, an error could be bringing down your credit score.
You can check your credit reports by requesting free copies once every 12 months on AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find inaccurate information, you can take these steps to have it removed:
- Dispute the error with the credit bureau, either online or by mail
- Provide documentation to support your claim
- Allow the credit bureau to conduct an investigation
Credit bureaus are required to address disputes within 30 days. If they find that your claim is correct, they will remove the error.
3. Pay down your credit card balances to 30% or less
You already know how important it is to pay your credit card bills on time every month. Even a single late payment can lower your credit score. But did you know that carrying a large balance on a credit card can also be bad for your credit?
That’s because of something called the credit utilization rate. This number compares how much credit you’re currently using to your total credit limit. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit limit and a $500 credit card balance, your credit utilization rate will be 50 percent.
To earn a high credit score, it helps to maintain a credit utilization rate of 30 percent or less. Paying down your credit card balances can help you reach this goal.
4. Request a higher credit limit
Another approach is to ask your credit card company to raise your credit limit. A higher credit limit will give you a lower credit utilization rate, even if your credit balances remain the same.
For example, suppose your credit card company agrees to increase your credit limit from $1,000 to $1,500. If you keep the same $500 balance, your credit utilization rate on this card will drop from 50 percent to 33 percent.
5. Report your rent and utility payments
Payment history is the single most important factor in your credit score. Most lenders report your payments to the credit bureaus automatically, but landlords and utility companies generally don’t. If you always make your rent and utility payments on time, having them added to your credit report can improve your credit score.
There are several simple ways to do this. You can ask your landlord or utility company to report your payments directly to the credit bureaus. Or you could enroll in Experian Boost, a free service that connects your bank account to your Experian credit report. There are other companies that will report your rent and utility payments to the credit bureaus, but most charge a fee for this service.
6. Apply for a credit-builder loan
If you’ve only used credit cards so far, taking out a loan may help your credit score. That’s because lenders like to see that you can handle different kinds of credit accounts.
With a credit-builder loan, you give your lender a security deposit for the same amount as the loan. These loans are easier to qualify for than standard loans because you’re borrowing your own money. Credit-builder loans offer two advantages: The loan may diversify your credit mix by adding another type of account. And you can use the loan to establish a credit history of regular, on-time payments. Both these things can increase your credit score.
Oportun: Affordable lending options designed with you in mind
Now that you understand how to boost your credit score, you can learn about how Oportun may be able to help you if you’re looking for affordable credit options. Visit our homepage to learn about:
- Personal loans
- Secured personal loans
- Credit cards
- And more!
FICO. What’s in my FICO scores?
TransUnion. How long does it take for a credit report to update?
CNBC. A third of Americans found errors on their credit reports. Here’s how to fix those mistakes
Federal Trade Commission. Disputing errors on your credit reports
Experian. What is a credit utilization rate?
Freddie Mac. How to get your rent reported to credit bureaus
Experian. Experian Boost
Experian. Everything you need to know about credit-builder loans
The information in this site, including any third-party content and opinions, is for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, tax, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Oportun product or service to your unique circumstances. Contact your independent financial advisor for advice on your personal situation.
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