How did you increase you credit score

13 Replies

@Jennifer Velez

I can help with this. So my credit was abysmal, like 540 something. I payed off all my credit card debt and my score almost immediately rose by 40 points. I also paid off and disputed a lot of the credit report information and by and large I was able to have increased to 630 all within a couple months. After this the next best thing would be to have an account that is open and active for a year or more(the older it gets the better) determined the average age of accounts plays a big roll in your credit, just keep them paid on time. Sadly the most important thing to credit is time, but given a year it’s theoretically possible to raise your credit score up by 200 points.

Watch credit card spending. Credit to debt ratio is important as well, you probably want to keep your credit card usage to around 25 or 30% or so of your available credit. If you have a $2000 credit card that is usually maxed or close to maxed out, it's probably hurting your score. But if you can pay down that $2000 card and keep your monthly balance at no more than $500 or $600, you'll likely see your score increase. 

@Jennifer Velez , your credit score is comprised 35% from your history of on time payments. This is the #1 thing they look at when scoring your credit, so if you're not making your payments on time, work on that first. Put a notice on your calendar, start an auto-pay system, anything that works for you to get those payments in on time every month.

Credit utilization is also a big one. If you have used up most of your credit limits, your score skews downward. Try to keep your balances below 20-30% of the credit limit, so on a $10k limit, you have no more than $2k or $3k. Paying those off should also be a priority.

Do not close any credit cards that have been opened for a long time. Your length of credit is tied to your longest-open card, so closing an old card that you don't use anymore isn't a great idea.

Go through your credit report and make sure every item is correct - anything that isn't, file a dispute. You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the credit reporting agencies - and can monitor your credit report by getting one every 4 months from a different provider.

Go to annualcreditreport.com, this is the Government mandated site that all 3 reporting agencies comply with.

In 2014 I had $65k in credit card debt. I pretty much paid it off in 2 years using zero percent credit card balance transfers to keep my interest to a minimum. I learned a lot in the process, and here is my advice (some of it mentioned above.)

  • Make your payments (duh)
  • Get your reports and scores often
    • annualcreditreport.com - Official credit reports from Transunion, Experian and Equifax. You are allowed 1 free per year, or whenever you are denied credit
    • Credit Karma - good for ongoing monitoring of your 'credit score', plus lots of helpful info on why your score is what it is.
    • Various credit cards give you free scores as well, from the various reporting agencies. I keep a spreadsheet and keep a running history of my scores across about 10 different sources. The scores vary a bit
  • Dispute any errors (if any) in your reports to get them removed.
  • Keep your credit applications to a minimum. Inquiries can have a negative impact, so you don't want any 'hard pulls' on your credit unless absolutely necessary. 'soft pulls' which don't actually ding you are OK.
  • Keep your utilization low. I find this one is one of the most important, and there are several ways to do this. 
    • Pay off your balances (duh)
    • Never close a credit card account, even if you don't need it, as doing so reduces your max available credit, and automatically increases your utilization %.
    • Ask for credit limit increases. Different credit card companies have different policies and procedures. Some you can do online, some you have to call. Any increase in your limit automatically reduces your utilization %. Keep track of when you do this and continue doing it periodically. The worst they can say is no. Just make sure any request does not initiate a 'hard pull' of your credit.
    • Open more accounts. Again, adding a credit card account automatically lowers your current utilization relative the the limit of the card. Doesn't mean you have to go out and spend the money. Over time, you end up  with cards that are beneficial for specific things. Price protection, travel rewards, cash back, etc. Start using the appropriate cards for the appropriate purposes, and save even more money.

It takes time, but once you realize the credit card game, it's not that hard to play. I use my CCs to pay any and all my bills, utilities, expenses, that will take them. I pay the balances in full each month, and pay no interest. I receive cash back or points, that  saves me money. I currently have about $11,000 in credit card debt (most of it on a 0% interest special offer I used to buy some large purchase) But because I have $116k in available credit across 12 different credit cards, my utilization is still below 10%, which is key.

My credit score is about 795 currently, after a high of 820 last fall.

Shane

Can anyone verify whether having an overall credit utilization below 30% but having one card over that utilization threshold hurts your score?  I'm trying to figure out the major swings in my score....  My current utilization is about 10% with a credit limit approaching $250k .  I want to take advantage of 0% financing without dinging my score.

paying my cc down (started with roughly 60k brought down to 18) and saw a 65 point jump over the summer.

Limit your inquiries (3 or less) every 6 months

Pay your bills on time and pay down any credit card debit, any credit accounts where the balance is 50% or more of the credit line hurts your credit. Store credit cards (JCP, Home Depot, ect) are usually the worst cards to have because of the lower credit line you are usually always using more then 50% of it. Don't close your longest credit line and review your credit report yearly to confirm there are no errors, if there are errors then dispute them immediately after finding them. Best of luck to you! 

reread what @Mindy Jensen and @Shane Snyder said, they hit the nail on the head

@Frankie Woods I am quite certain that even having one card over 30% can hurt. I know I have read about that metric more than once. In a way it seems silly, like it should really not matter. If you have 30% utilization on one card of $3k with a $10k limit but have 20 other cards with $0 debt equating to a total credit line of $250,000, I do not see why having $3k in debt should be worrisome at all. It really should not matter in that scenario if the $3k is on one card or spread out across all 21 in my opinion.

Originally posted by @Frankie Woods :

Can anyone verify whether having an overall credit utilization below 30% but having one card over that utilization threshold hurts your score?

Consider it verified!

I had one card go to 50% utilization for a short period of time and my credit score dropped from 807 to 770 (37 points).  One month later with credit card paid off it went back up to  813 (up 43).  No other credit score factors changed during this timeframe.

Please note that even if you pay off your credit card every month your utilization can hurt you because it is based on your statement balance.  This is why go on-line and electronically pay off my credit cards the day before they close so my statement balances are close to zero.  But don't pay them entirely as a small balance is important to show you are using some credit.

Hi @Jennifer Velez !

Some previous posts have mentioned keeping a utilization rate under 30%, paying off debts and disputing errors. I wanted to add to the list of ways that you can boost your credit score! 

  • Never miss a due date! Payment history counts for 35% of your FICO score. If you tend to slip on due dates, try auto pay or set reminders for yourself.
  • Diversify your profile! Having various forms of credit (i.e car loans, credit cards, student loans etc.) may help improve your score. Keep in mind, being responsible for those various forms of credit can reflect on your score.
  • Increase your credit limits! The more credit you have, the more appealing you may look to lenders. Simply call your card company(s) and request an increase.