Here’s What You Should Do to Build and Keep a Stronger Credit Score

If you are often denied credit, or if you can only qualify for loans with unreasonable interest rates, it is probably your credit score to blame, at least in part. What may seem insoluble is how you can improve your credit rating.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of strategies that you can use to increase your score. As your points increase, you will generally be better positioned to get loans at more affordable rates. If you’re looking for ideas to try, keep reading.

What is a credit value?

You can skip this section if you know what a credit score is. But for those who do not, a credit score is a number that helps lenders determine how likely it is that you will repay a loan, with higher scores generally providing better terms. The two most common point models are FICO and VantageScore, which give points from 300 to 850

FICO credit scores are broken down in this way, according to myFICO.com:

What are some steps to increase your credit score?

Consumers who want to improve their credit values ​​can benefit from taking the following steps.

Step 1: Check your credit information and dispute any errors

If you go to AnnualCreditReport.com, currently you can get a free credit report from each credit report every week. Before the pandemic, you could get one for free from any agency once a year. Even if your credit rating is fantastic, it’s not a bad idea to check your credit report and make sure everything looks good.

If there are errors in your credit report, you will want to correct them, especially if it is obvious that an error has lowered your credit score. To dispute a credit reporting error, you must contact both the credit reporting company and the company that sent the information and tell them, with proof, that the information in your report is incorrect.

Step 2: Do not miss payments

If your credit score is not as high as you want it to be, make sure you pay everything you owe on time. Your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score and is also an important factor in your VantageScore. It is true that if you pay a bill a few days late, it will not hurt your credit score, even though you may have to pay a late fee. If you are at least 30 days late, your credit report will likely hear about it. Payments on time, month after month, year after year, will raise your credit score – and help keep it up.

“Paying your bills on time is crucial to maintaining and ultimately increasing your credit score,” said Jason Gaughan, Product Card Consumer Card Manager at Bank of America. “If you have difficulty remembering to pay off your balance before the card’s due date, it can make a big difference to create consistent reminders. For some cards, you may also be able to set up automatic payments through your bank.”

Your credit utilization rate refers to how much of your credit limit is available compared to your current balance. If you have $ 1,000 available on your credit card and you have a balance of $ 100, then your credit utilization rate is quite low. It is best to keep your utilization rate below 30%, and people with high scores often have no more than 10%.

“Just like points in golf, you want low points in credit usage – anything below 30% is good,” says Tabitha Mazzara, chief operating officer at Mbanc, a mortgage lender headquartered in Manhattan Beach, California.

About a third of your credit score is based on credit usage, says Mazzara. “Even if you pay your monthly bills on time, if you owe $ 9,000 on a credit card that has a limit of $ 10,000, that means your credit utilization is 90%. It’s not ideal.”

Sure, this may seem like weird logic. The credit is available for you to use. Why would it matter if you use everything, as long as you pay back everything from month to month? Good question. But that’s just the way it is. If your credit utilization is always or often high, the credit reporting companies calculate that the odds that you will eventually miss a payment or struggle to pay off your debts are higher.

Other options

You can also consider trying the following steps to improve your credit. But remember that everyone and their financial habits are different. For the person who is not financially responsible, part of this can be bad advice.

Take a loan. This can potentially be a ruthless move if you are not good at money. But a credit-building loan can be helpful for consumers without a credit history. And if you have credit card debt, taking out a personal loan to consolidate it can also help your credit score by lowering your credit utilization rate, according to the credit bureau Experian.

Open new credit card accounts. But not much at once, and like taking out a loan, this can backfire if you are struggling with money management. “Be strategic when it comes to opening new cards. Opening new cards can both help and damage your score,” says Gaughan. “If you want to get a new card, make sure you have not opened a new credit line recently. Once you have got a new card, keep your card balance low to increase your score.”

How to quickly improve your credit score

How long does it take to increase your score and how can you speed up the process? Well, it really depends on how low and battered your credit score is.

If you start working with better financial habits, you can see your credit score start to climb within a month. But enough to throw you from bad credit to good? Probably not. These things usually take time, sometimes a lot of time.

What are the ways to maintain good credit?

If you want to keep your credit rating high, there are a number of strategies you should consider. We have mentioned all this, but here are some highlights:

  • Make sure your credit report does not contain errors that could damage your credit rating.
  • Pay your bills on time – late payments can damage your credit score.
  • Pay off or pay down credit card balances.

In theory, raising your credit score is not difficult. But if you have a mountain of debt that crushes you, or if you simply do not earn enough money, it can be a challenge. Still, taking several small steps, such as making sure you always pay your bills on time, can eventually make a huge difference in your credit score.

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