Credit
May 11, 2015

Easy Fixes for a Not-Quite-High-Enough Credit Score

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

It’s no secret that your credit score can have a significant impact on your life. Banks review it when you apply for a loan, landlords may check before approving you as a tenant and even some employers will want to know that magic number. To qualify for a mortgage, the typical credit score requirement is 640. So if you’re not quite there, these tips will help you shape up and increase your credit score in minimal time.

The first and most obvious task is to order a free credit report and check for discrepancies. This is especially crucial if you feel your score is lower than it should be. Any negative information that is still on your report after seven years can be disputed, with the exception of certain types of bankruptcy. If you think you’ve found an error, file a dispute online with the appropriate credit bureau’s website, or you can hire a credit repair company to do it for you.

The next quick and easy task that will boost your credit score is paying off small debts. Browse through any loan or credit card statements to determine if there are any small balances you can afford to pay off. The more debt you pay off, the more your credit score will go up.

You can’t increase your credit score while you’re still letting it drop. If you’ve been stuck in a cycle of late payments and fees, this is the most crucial step. Pay any bills that are late, and call the company if you can’t. Some companies will reduce your overall balance if you switch to electronic statements, pay a balance all at once or set up automatic withdrawal. Even a deferred loan looks better than a completely ignored loan. If you need help making a budget, online tools can help.

Opening another credit card account may seem like a good idea when you want more credit, but this can end up hurting your score. On the other hand, closing old accounts is also not advisable, as those show your level of responsibility.

Your credit utilization rate (the portion of available credit you are using) affects your score considerably. Anything you can do to reduce this rate will allow your credit score to rise naturally. Credit Karma recommends a credit utilization rate of 1%-20%. Of course, this depends on your ability to make payments on any heavily used accounts. If you can’t make a payment, another option is to contact credit card companies and negotiate any finance charges and membership fees. These can sometimes be removed through a quick conversation with a representative.

  • I paid off my student loan and my credit score DROPPED almost 50 points. Not nearly this low thankfully, but still… Ugh. One tip I learned from another PF expert (if you don’t have enough revolving credit like me) is taking out a credit card just to put one reoccurring small bill on and paying it off in full each month.

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