Like a slow-simmering chicken cacciatore or savory vegetable stew, your credit score requires certain ingredients and ample time to bring out its full potential. Here we show what it takes to create Ramen Noodle Credit, Credit Primavera, and FICO Filet Mignon. These credit score recipes will make the most out of the ingredients you already have in your “pantry” at home (i.e. your credit report).
Choose the recipe below that contains the most number of ingredients you’ve already got stocked, and read the instructions to serve up a tasty credit score.
Ramen Noodle Credit
Everyone’s been through a Ramen Noodle phase, usually when money is tight or cooking skills are non-existent. This Ramen Noodle Credit recipe is for those who are just starting out and have very few ingredients available to make a tasty credit score. Remember, just as a hard brick of noodles and packet of sodium can be transformed into something edible, so can a skimpy credit history translate into a decent credit score.
- 1 cup maxed-out credit cards*
- Giant heap of student loan bills
- 2 recent applications for credit (that were denied!)
*If you can’t get ahold of conventional credit cards, substitute secured cards
Continue making on-time payments to all credit cards. Lower balances by spending less and paying down debt. Consolidate student loans and continue to make timely payments. Store all applications for new credit in freezer; thaw and turn in only after other cards are paid off.
There’s a little bit of everything in this dish, some of it yummy and some not so yummy. But with enough patience, the less tasty ingredients will take a backstage to the more flavorful ones. Patience is the pasta that holds this meal together. In time, any black marks listed on your credit report will be replaced with positive payment history, and you’ll enjoy the taste and nourishment that a strong credit score can bring.
- A pinch of public record (a little goes a long way)
- A dash of delinquency*
- 1 oz. inaccurate information
- 1 cup collection accounts
*Can be substituted with a defaulted account
Correct any errors on your credit report immediately. The FCRA specifies that most negative information can’t be reported for longer than seven years (or 10 years for a bankruptcy). If negative information is still listed on your report past those deadlines, you should contact the credit bureaus to have it removed. Work with a credit counselor to pay off your collections account; try to negotiate an early removal of the collections account from your credit report.
FICO Filet Mignon
This recipe starts with the best ingredients and carefully prepares them to create an exceptional dinner. If you have these ingredients in your pantry, make sure you’re making the most of them.
- 5+ years on-time payment history
- 1 cup credit cards (look for one with large limits and low balances)
- Healthy mix of mortgage, car, and personal loans (make sure they all have on-time payment history)
Continually season the dish with timely payments and low levels of credit card debt. Consider enrolling in a credit monitoring program to guard against identity theft, which could quickly spoil your meal. Serve with a side of steady income and smart investments, and enjoy the feast of good credit!