How Can I Raise My Credit Score?

We get a lot of questions from readers asking “How can I raise my credit score?” Truthfully, there is no quick and easy fix, but there are several steps you can take that will help (some more quickly and dramatically than others).

Remember, your credit score is one the most important numbers in your life, so it’s important to know what yours is and take active steps to raise it as much as possible. The suggestions listed below will help you to look more attractive to lenders, giving you access to new loans and credit cards at good interest rates:

Have damaging errors removed from your credit report.

You don’t have to live with inaccurate information infesting your credit report. Federal law gives you the right to have data removed from your credit report when the credit bureaus confirm that it isn’t yours or when they can’t confirm it at all. You can have errors taken off your credit report by disputing them with the credit bureau that provided the report – either Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Depending on the error, this step could raise your score within a month and by quite a lot.

Pay down high balances.

Credit utilization is the ratio of your credit card balances to their respective credit limits (and your overall balances to total limit). The higher your credit card balances, the higher your utilization, and the lower your credit score will be. You can lower your utilization and raise credit score by paying down your balances. A healthy credit card balance is lower than 30% of your credit limit (some even say 10%). You’ll see a big boost in your your score if you significantly pay down credit cards that were previously at their limits. But remember, simply transferring balances from one card to another won’t do you much good.

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Get your credit limit raised.

A higher credit limit can have the same positive impact on your credit score as paying down your balances. When your credit limit increases, your credit utilization lowers, and you see a boost in your credit score. Some credit card issuers automatically raise credit limits after a certain period of time if your account has remained in good standing. For other credit cards, you may have to request a limit increase. Only take this action if you know you have the discipline to keep your credit card balance in check.

Pay for a delete.

Debt collections dole out some of the worst damage to your credit score. Honestly, a paid collection isn’t much better than an unpaid one. Though they do hurt your credit score less as they get older, collections won’t hurt your score at all if they’re removed from your credit report. You may be able to have collection agencies delete entries from your credit report in exchange for payment. Make sure you get any pay for delete arrangements in writing and follow up to make sure the entry actually gets taken off your credit report.

Pay on time.

Though a single timely credit card payment won’t bump your credit score by much (if anything at all), paying by the due date each month will boost your credit score over time. Because payment history influences your credit score the most (it’s 35% of your score), paying your bills on time is the best thing you can do for your credit score over the long run.

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