Every credit report is different and there are many different credit scoring models available, there is no single or simple solution when it comes to improving your credit score. In fact, if your fico score is above 750, the most you can get it up is to 850. There are some steps anyone can take to help improve their credit scores, however. Most people need to start with the two most important factors in credit scoring:
- Your payment history: Paying your bills on time, every time, is essential to having good credit scores. One late payment can take off up to 115 points from your credit score!
- Your credit utilization: Keeping your credit card balances (less than 10% utilization) as low as possible is also essential. How your card balances compare with your credit limits is reflected in your utilization rate, or balance-to-limit ratio.
Doing those two things will ensure your scores are headed in the right direction.
Review the Factors Impacting Your Credit Score
To better understand what’s affecting your credit, get copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus by subscribing to a credit monitoring service. Your credit reports will show you key information including your account balances, payment history, credit inquiries and your credit score. Focusing on these “risk factors” will help you understand what changes you can make specific to your credit history in order to begin improving your credit score and your overall credit rating, and do so as quickly as possible.
Steps Everyone Can Take to Help Improve Their Credit Score
- Bring current any past-due accounts. If you have any accounts that are past due, such as collection accounts or charge-off accounts, bringing those accounts current is the first step to rehabilitating your credit scores. Paying off collections may not improve all your credit scores, but getting caught up with a late account will prevent any additional late payments from being recorded.
- Reduce balances on revolving accounts. Your credit utilization is calculated by taking the total of all your credit card balances and dividing it by the total of all your credit card limits. The lower your credit utilization rate, the better. Credit utilization above 30% can start to bring down your scores, and people with the best credit scores tend to keep their credit utilization below 10%. If possible, you should aim to pay your credit card balances off in full each month.
- Apply for credit only when necessary. Although inquiries have a minimal impact on credit scores, multiple applications for credit within a short period of time can cause lenders and credit scoring models to view you with more risk.
- Apply for a secure credit card and utilize it only 10% and make sure your payments are always on time.
If you are trying to improve your credit score as quickly as possible, pull a copy of your credit report and review it carefully to ensure all information is accurate and up to date. You have to know what is in your credit report before you can determine what you need to do to make it better. If you plan to make a major purchase in the near future, order your credit report at least six months to a year prior to applying for credit. Doing so will allow time for you to address any issues and for any changes to be reflected in the report prior to the application process.