It’s been months since you’ve tried improving your credit score but had little success. And since you’re planning to make large purchases soon, you start feeling hopeless.
The problem is you don’t know where to start. With too many resources available, you become paralyzed with fear. But you know you can’t sit still forever. So what’s your next step?
To learn from others who’ve already experienced success.
Take my case, for example, my current credit score is 750+, but this wasn’t always the case. At one point I had no credit and lost over 100 points. Through trial and error, plus learning from others I’ve learned which tactics work.
You don’t need complicated strategies, you only need a few that work. The tactics provided in this list are the same ones I’ve used to increase my credit score. While your credit score won’t improve overnight, it’ll improve quicker than most.
Here are 10 tactics you can use to finally improve your credit score:
1. Revise for any errors
Before you attempt to improve your credit score, check where you stand. Pull a free credit credit report and ensure that all your information is accurate. For example, check for misspellings, wrong addresses and accounts not belonging to you.
If there’s any bad information, contact the credit reporting company. To avoid any prolonged issues, aim to check your credit at least once per year. You’re entitled by Federal law to 1 free credit report from all 3 credit reporting agencies.
Download Credit Karma, or Credit Sesame to track your credit score. This will help you stay motivated as you’re changing bad habits to improve your credit score.
2. Stop depending on credit
A major reason for having bad credit is due to carrying several credit balances. Instead, focus on paying down all your credit cards and only use one. Save money by consolidating all your credit card balances into a 0% interest credit card.
Once you’ve consolidated all or most of your credit card debt, make more than the minimum payment. Why? Because it can take years for you to pay off those balances making the smallest payment.
It can feel overwhelming keeping track of many credit cards and other expenses. Fortunately, a simple solution is to use apps like Mint to better track your cashflow.
3. Say no to new credit cards
Ironically, the better your credit score is, the more credit offers you’ll receive. But this doesn’t mean that you should open dozens of new credit cards. Limit yourself to only have 1 to 4 credit cards.
If you find that you already have more than 4, focus on eliminating ones you don’t use or have an annual fee. Many companies and stores will try to convince you to open new credit cards with a one-time cash bonus. Don’t fall for it.
4. Leave your bills on autopilot
Because you’re human, you’re bound to be late on payments at some point. A great way to avoid being late is by setting up automatic payments for your bills. Nowadays, most large banks have a “bill pay” feature that allows you to set up recurring payments.
Review your credit billing history and write down bill due dates on a separate sheet of paper. Be sure to have a good understanding of your cash flow to know how much money you’ll have left over each month. Use the remaining amount to make extra credit card payments.
Stay motivated by setting a deadline for when you’d like to be credit card debt free. Then break down your entire credit card balance by month. For example, if you’d like to be debt free in 16 months with a $5,000 credit card balance, make a $313 payment each month ($5,000/16).
Make sure to pick a date that’s attainable and one with payments you’ll be able to afford. It’s better to pay a lesser amount if you’ll be consistent.
5. Make your bills adapt to you
Everyone’s pay cycle is different, so adjust your bill’s due date to a date convenient for you. If your bill is due on the 1st of the month but you get paid on the 7th, change accordingly.
Sometimes changing your due date is too much of hassle or not possible. In this case, consider using your credit card to make your payments. But, as soon as these payments post to your credit card, be sure to pay them off.
6. Be wary of excessive credit
Keep your credit utilization below 30%. Using more credit gives the impression to companies that you’re struggling financially. Vintagesscore recommends using no more than 30% of your credit utilization.
What’s your credit utilization? Divide your total outstanding debt by your total credit. For example, if you had $3,000 in outstanding debt with a $10,000 credit limit, your credit utilization is 30%. Now review all your credit cards and calculate your credit utilization.
So when do you use your credit cards? Only to make purchases you’ll be able to pay off either immediately or within a month.
Stop depending on your credit card to make daily purchases and use your debit card instead. You’ll be less likely to make impulsive purchases and buy only what you can afford. The best part is you’ll start breaking the bad habits that got you a bad credit score in the first place.
7. Don’t abuse credit inquiries
Be wary of hard credit inquiries. These types of inquiries can bring down your credit score a few points. A few points may not sound like much, but they add up.
Hard credit inquiries are necessary for the different stages in your life but you’ll need to be strategic for when to use them.
Here are some examples of hard inquiries:
- Auto loan application
- Mortgage application
- Student loan application
- Personal loan application
- Apartment application
Plan ahead for big purchases. This way you’ll avoid running many hard inquiries against your credit all at once. The good news is that big purchases aren’t made often, so you’ll have time to prepare.
Set a timeline for when you’d like to make large purchases to know if your credit score is in good standing.
8. Become an authorized user
Start building credit by becoming an authorized user in someone else’s account. As an authorized user, you’ll be able to make purchases with your own credit card. But the owner will still be responsible to make payments on time.
It’ll be challenging to find someone who’d be willing to add you as an authorized user to their account. So start by asking a close relative or friend. Once added, it’s a great way to build creditworthiness over time, so be persistent.
9. Praise your credit history
Don’t close good standing credit cards. Good standing credit cards show lenders you’ve been able to make payments on time for an extended period.
Instead, if you decide to no longer use a credit card, leave it home somewhere out of sight.
Do close credit cards that are charging you annual fees or have a short history. Be sure to do this during a period you won’t be making large purchases.
10. Conquer goals with patience
The truth is building your credit score won’t be easy, but it’s well worth the effort. To stay motivated, write down your main reason for wanting to improve your credit score.
For example, if you want to buy a house, set a concrete date to work towards to. Then start researching what credit score you’ll need to buy your home. From here, break down your goal into daily actionable steps.
A sample month can look like this:
- Week 1: Leave credit card at home
- Week 2: Call banks to inquire about ideal credit score to have
- Week 3: Create a pay off date for your credit card with the lowest balance
- Week 4: Save $10 to make a principal payment towards your credit card
Consistency is key. It’s best to start with small goals and make consistent progress. Once you start seeing success aim for bigger goals.
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month.” – Matthew Kelly
Make your dream purchases effortlessly
Imagine waking up to a buzzing noise. It’s your smartphone notifying you that your credit score is now 700. You smile, grab your coffee, and start your morning feeling invincible.
It wasn’t easy but with hard work and discipline, you were able to improve your credit score.
Best of all, your finances are now better than ever. You have a budget and stick to it. Amazing isn’t it?
You now have 10 proven strategies to boost your credit score. Try each tactic but remember to have patience. Increasing your credit score won’t happen overnight. But you’ll form life-changing habits along the way.
What are you waiting for? Go get em’ tiger.
Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com
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