Love it or hate it, your credit score affects some of your biggest life decisions: buying a car, owning a home or, really, making any big purchase. Heck, it can even affect what you pay on your monthly bills.
But maybe your credit score isn’t where you want it to be… Don’t worry. There are some simple steps you can take to improve it within the next 30 days.
4 Simple and Quick Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
The factors that determine your credit score include: 35% payment history, 30% accounts owed, 15% length of credit history, 10% new credit and 10% credit mix.
In case you’ve neglected that little three-digit number — or have struggled to improve it — we’ve rounded up some of the simplest ways to improve your credit score.
So the goal here is to make these simple moves today, so you can see improvements in your score tomorrow (or, like, a month from now).
1. Remove Errors From Your Credit Report
Did you know your credit score could be inaccurate? One out of five credit reports has an error, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission.
To keep a closer eye on your credit, install the Credit Sesame app and sign up to get your credit score and “credit report card” for free. It breaks down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how to address it.
Because it simplifies everything, you should be able to spot any errors. For instance, if you find an “unpaid” credit card balance that you know you paid or a bill in collections you know never existed, you can dispute the incorrect information and raise your credit score.
James Cooper, a motivational speaker, raised his credit score 277 points in six months using Credit Sesame. Now he talks to high school students about the importance of having good credit and uses what he’s learned through Credit Sesame as a blueprint for his lessons.
Like Cooper, 60% of Credit Sesame members see an increase in their credit score; 50% see at least a 10-point increase and 20% see at least a 50-point increase after 180 days.
2. Let This Company Handle Debt Collectors
Debt won’t kill your credit score. In fact, borrowing money can actually help it — as long as you’re making payments on time. If you don’t? You risk the account going into collections.
If you’ve been getting phone calls and mail from debt collectors, look into Collection Shield 360, a free credit repair service that helps people clean up their credit reports and deal with collection agencies. It will contact your debt collectors to have negative marks on your credit report removed, among other steps to improving your credit.
The service helped 31-year-old server Tabatha Pankop deal with lingering bills from T-Mobile, Bright House Networks and Verizon. Her credit score jumped up nearly 200 points in just a few months, enabling her to move into a better apartment and start looking for a townhouse to buy.
3. Consolidate Your Debt — and Lower Your Interest Rate
No, like… the whole bill. All of it. All that debt racked up from the 300 destination weddings your friends made you attend (thanks!) could be paid by the end of this month.
Your credit card company is ripping you off with insane rates, and it’s getting rich off of you. But there are other, nicer companies that’ll help you out, including a website like Upstart.
Here’s how it works: Upstart will loan you up to $50,000 so that you can cover your credit card tab. Use that loan to pay off your debt, then make monthly payments to repay the loan. It could lower your monthly payments and help you pay off that debt a lot faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
Upstart won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
Unlike traditional underwriting models that use only the common FICO scoring model, Upstart’s technology looks at factors like your education and employment history to determine your creditworthiness (though it does require a 620 credit score).
If you’re worried about missing one of your monthly payments, set a recurring reminder in your phone. Or, if you’re not worried about overdrafting, set your bills to autopay.
Now you can finally stop holding a grudge against that friend who thought a Mexico wedding was a good idea.
4. Use the Right Amount of Credit
After your payment history, your credit-utilization ratio has the highest impact on your credit score; it makes up 30% of it.
Your credit utilization refers to the amount of credit you’re using versus your limit. For example, if your credit card has a credit limit of $8,000 and you’ve racked up a $2,000 bill, your credit utilization rate is 25%.
The goal is to stay under 30%, but the lower, the better.
You can call your credit card company and ask to increase your credit limit (as long as that won’t tempt you to spend more money).
To keep your credit utilization rate low — and your credit score high — keep your spending down and pay your credit card bills as soon as possible.
When It Comes to Credit Scores…
There are a number of ways you can improve your credit score, but as long as you simply understand what impacts your score, you can determine just how you can improve it.
Getting your credit score and “credit report card” for free from Credit Sesame will help break down exactly what’s on your credit report in layman’s terms, how it affects your score and how you might address it.
And remember: Your credit score can update as frequently as every day; however, it’s more realistic to expect changes to appear on your report in about 30 days. Additionally, if you’re using Credit Sesame, it shows your updated score every 30 days.
The key? Be patient, but get to work today, so you can start seeing those improvements in 30 days.
Credit Sesame does not guarantee any of these results, and some may even see a decrease in their credit score. Any score improvement is the result of many factors, including paying bills on time, keeping credit balances low, avoiding unnecessary inquiries, appropriate financial planning and developing better credit habits.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at Codetic.