Your credit score is the cornerstone of your financial life. It affects your ability to secure loans, credit cards, and favorable interest rates. If you want to learn how to raise your credit score, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s what you need to know to get your credit score headed in the right direction.
1. Understand your current credit score
Before you get started on a quest to improve your credit score, you need to know where you stand right now. You’ll want to get a copy of your credit report from all three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You get one free credit report from each bureau each year through AnnualCreditReport.com. Review these reports carefully to find any errors that may be affecting your score.
2. Make timely payments
The most important factor impacting your credit score is your payment history—it makes up about 35% of your score. Be sure to make all your payments on time, as even one late payment can have a negative impact. Set up reminders, use automatic payments, or use budgeting tools to help you stay on track. (A great, free budgeting tool to help with this is Brigit’s Finance Helper.)
3. Pay down outstanding balances
The amount of debt you owe, particularly in relation to your credit limits (credit utilization ratio), is another crucial factor. Aim to keep your credit utilization below 30% on all credit cards. Paying down outstanding balances can significantly improve your credit score.
4. Avoid closing old accounts
The length of your credit history matters, so avoid closing old credit card accounts, even if you’re not actively using them. Older accounts with positive payment history contribute positively to your score.
5. Don’t open too many new accounts
Opening multiple new credit accounts in a short period can bring your credit score down. Each credit inquiry can cause a small dip in your score. Be very selective about applying for new credit and only open accounts when you absolutely need to.
6. Mix up your credit mix
Having a mix of credit types, such as credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages can be good for your credit score. But only take on new credit lines if they match up with your financial goals and you’re sure you can manage it responsibly.
7. Resolve outstanding collections and past due accounts
If you have accounts in collections or past-due accounts, work on resolving them. Paying them off or negotiating with creditors to settle the debt can help improve your credit score over time.
8. Avoid frequent credit inquiries
While some credit inquiries are necessary, try not to log multiple inquiries in a short period, especially if you’re seeking new credit. Each inquiry can have an impact on your credit score.
9. Use secured credit cards
If you have a limited or poor credit history, consider using secured credit cards to build or rebuild your credit. These cards require a cash deposit as collateral and are easier to obtain than traditional credit cards. Make timely payments to demonstrate responsible credit use.
10. Be patient
Improving your credit score is a gradual process, and it may take several months to see changes. Be patient, and also stay consistent in your efforts—they will pay off!
11. Monitor your credit
Be sure to monitor your credit reports regularly to track your progress and detect any errors or discrepancies. You can get your free annual credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com and use credit monitoring services for ongoing updates. Additionally, with a Brigit subscription, you can get credit monitoring and ongoing access to credit reports. Brigit’s Credit Builder* can also help you build credit.
12. Seek professional help if needed
If you’re struggling with credit issues, consider seeking advice from a credit counseling agency. They can provide guidance on managing debt and improving your credit score.
13. Consider authorized user status
If you have a close friend or family member with a strong credit history, ask if you can become an authorized user on their credit card account. This can help you benefit from their positive payment history.
14. Understand credit scoring models
Different lenders use various credit scoring models, so your score may vary slightly depending on the model they use. FICO scores and VantageScores are two common scoring models. Understanding the model used by a potential lender can help you prepare for credit applications.
15. Don’t co-sign loans
Co-signing a loan for someone else means you’re equally responsible for the debt. If they miss payments or default, it can negatively impact your credit score. So be very cautious about co-signing loans, and it’s best to avoid it if you can.
The bottom line
Improving your credit score can open up a lot of opportunities and save you money through better interest rates. By following the steps above, and using credit responsibly, you can raise your credit score and reap the benefits.
*Impact to score may vary. Some users’ scores may not improve. Results will depend on many factors, including on-time payment history, the status of non-Brigit accounts, and financial history. Results show that customers with a starting credit score of 600 or below were more likely to see positive score change results. A Brigit subscription is required. Credit Builder loans are not available in all states.