If your credit score is lower than you would like, there may be some quick ways to increase it. Depending on what’s holding him back, you might be able to tack up to 100 points pretty quickly.
Scores in the “correct” and “bad” areas of the credit rating ranges could see dramatic results – leading to better access to loans or credit cards, and better terms.
See what fuels your credit
Check your credit score for free, get personalized information. Weekly updates allow you to track your progress.
Can you improve your credit by 100 points?
If you’re struggling with a low score, you’re in a better position to earn quick wins than someone with a strong credit history.
Is an increase of 100 points realistic? Rod Griffin, director of public education for the Experian credit bureau, says yes. “The lower a person’s score, the more likely they are to get a 100 point increase,” he says. “It’s just because there are a lot more perks and small changes can lead to bigger score increases. “
And if you’re starting from a higher score, you probably don’t need 100 full points to make a big difference in the credit products you can get. Just continuing to polish your credit can make your life easier and give you a better chance of qualifying for the best terms on loans or credit cards.
No strategy to improve your credit will work if you pay late. Why? Payment history is the most important factor that affects credit scores, and late payments can stay on your credit reports for up to 7.5 years.
If you miss a payment for 30 days or more, call the creditor immediately. Arrange to pay if you can and ask if the creditor will consider no longer reporting the missed payment to the credit bureaus.
Even if the creditor does not, it is worth updating on the account as soon as possible. Each month, an account marked overdue hurts your score. Fortunately, the impact of a missed payment wears off over time. Showing lots of positive credit behaviors after a misstep can help compensate for damage faster and potentially improve your credit.
2. Make frequent payments
If you’re able to make small payments (often called micropayments) throughout the month, it can help lower your credit card balance and improve your credit. Making multiple payments throughout the month moves the needle on a credit score factor called use of credit. After payment history, this is another factor that strongly influences your score.
If you’re able to keep your usage low instead of letting it move towards a payment due date, it should immediately benefit your score. (You can track your credit usage on each card and globally by viewing your credit profile with NerdWallet.)
3. Ask for higher credit limits
When your credit limit goes up and your balance stays the same, it instantly lowers your overall credit usage, which can improve your credit. Call your card issuer and ask if you can get a higher limit without “hard” credit investigation, which can temporarily lower your score by a few points. If your income has increased, or if you have accumulated more years of positive credit experience, you have a good chance of getting a higher limit. Some issuers may also be willing to work with you during the COVID-19 crisis.
4. Credit report errors in case of dispute
A mistake on one of your credit reports could lower your score. Fixing it can help you improve your credit quickly.
You are currently entitled to one free report each week from each of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Use AnnualCreditReport.com to request these reports and then check them for errors, such as payments marked late when you paid on time or negative information that is too old to list more.
Once you’ve identified them, dispute these errors to have them removed. Credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and respond. Some companies offer to challenge mistakes and improve your credit quickly, but proceed with caution before choosing this option.
If you have a relative or friend with a long history of responsible credit card use and a high credit limit, consider asking if you can be added to one of these accounts as a Authorized user. The account holder does not need to let you use the card, or even give you the account number, for your credit to improve.
It works best if you have a thin credit report, and the impact can be significant. This can fatten your credit report, give you a longer credit history, and reduce your use of credit.
6. Use a secure credit card
Another method that can be used either to build credit from scratch or improve your credit is to use a secured credit card. This type of card is backed by a cash deposit; you pay it up front and the deposit amount is usually the same as your credit limit. You use it like a regular credit card, and your on-time payments improve your credit. Choose a secure card that reports your credit activity to the three credit bureaus. You may also consider inquiring alternative credit cards which do not require a security deposit.
7. Keep credit cards open
If you’re racing to improve your credit profile, know that closing credit cards can make the job more difficult. Closing a credit card means you lose that card’s credit limit when your overall credit usage is calculated, which can result in a lower score. Keep the card open and use it occasionally so that the issuer does not close it.
Register to get your free score and credit report by NerdWallet. The information is updated weekly and the factors affecting your score are broken down to make it easier to understand.