Everyone’s credit score is dependent on the same few factors. Your payment history with bills plays a huge role and often takes up as much as 35 percent of your overall rating. Additional factors include the amounts you owed on your bills, any new credit you have opened and the types of credit you utilized. Unfortunately, many people struggle to increase their credit scores, but there is hope. There are a number of ways to steadily increase your rating over time.
1. Dispute Discrepancies
You should review your credit score once every so often to ensure it is correct. There are a few different credit agencies, and you should check with all of them to make sure your score is equal across the board. If something seems off, then you need to contact the agency to correct it. It can take some time for agencies to fix mistakes, which is why you want to catch errors as soon as you can. You do not want to find an error when you are trying to buy a house or car.
2. Obtain a Credit Card
If you do not currently have a credit card, then getting one and paying it off in full every month is a great thing. Your score may not be as good because the only factors at play are the utility bills you have paid in the past. Even if you have fair credit rating or no score at all, you should be able to find an institution to provide you with a card. You just need to make sure you use it wisely and do not live beyond your means.
3. Adjust Your Credit Utilization Ratio
You may have a credit card with a limit of $1,000, but you should not use the full $1,000 every month. It is recommended to stick with a credit utilization ratio of 30 percent. This means with a $1,000 limit, you would want to spend a maximum of $300 on your credit card each month.
4. Do Not Close Old Credit Cards
You may have certain credit cards that are still active, but you have not used them in a while. The tempting thing to do may be to close these cards entirely, so you are not cajoled into utilizing the card and taking on more debt. However, this negatively impacts your credit history. The length of time you have been using credit factors into your overall score slightly, and shutting down one card can decrease the average number of years you have used credit.
5. Increase Credit Limits
This strategy also helps with your credit utilization ratio. Spending $300 on a credit card with a limit of $1,000 will provide you with a ratio of 30 percent. However, if you get your limit increased to $3,000 a month and you spend $300, then you have a ratio of only 10 percent. Occasionally, banks will raise your credit limit for you. If the bank does not, then you can call a representative to see if you can raise it on your own.
6. Limit the Number of Store Card Applications
Many giant retailers have their own credit cards you can use to make purchases at the store. These cards typically provide patrons with special perks, and they can also help your credit rating. However, you need to be mindful of how many you apply for. A hard inquiry on your report will stick with you for a year. Although the hit is usually only about five points, it can be enough to send someone with good credit into fair credit territory.
7. Pinpoint Areas to Improve On
The best way you can benefit from a credit repair company is if you have a good idea of where improvement is needed. One of those areas may be that your credit rating is be poor due to a case of stolen identity years ago. “Recovering from identify fraud can be a long process,” stated CreditRepair.com president Scott Smith. “Credit repair companies like creditrepair.com are here to help you navigate the process.” Other small errors harming your score may include frequent hard credit inquires, late payments or old bills which had been to collections.
8. Avoid Late Payments
Your credit score may be suffering simply because you were late on a few bills. To prevent this from happening, set up alerts on your phone or computer to provide you with notifications for when you need to make a payment. You can also speak with the institution about changing the due dates. This is advantageous when you change the date to better coincide with your paychecks.
9. Clear Up Any Debt
Many people get into the habit of paying off debt from one credit card with another card. This may provide you with temporary relief, but it is not a long-term solution for maintaining a good credit rating. Instead, you need to be proactive about paying off your debt in its entirety, so it is done with once and for all. In the event you do not recognize a certain debt, then contact your financial institution about clearing it up.
10. Create a Plan
Above all else, you need to create a credit restructuring plan that works for you. Your credit rating is not going to increase overnight. It will likely take several months at least to start seeing a difference. You need to stick with your strategy even if you do not see an immediate change. In the event you do not know how to develop a plan, then speak with a financial professional. You will learn what steps will work best for you so that you have a credit score you can be proud of.
You may want to buy a new house or car in the near future. If that is the case, then you need to start thinking about your credit rating now instead of when you actually need to apply for a loan. By taking steps to improve your credit score, you will likely learn a thing or two about your finances. Ultimately, you stand to benefit for years by taking action now.