In a study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it is estimated that 26 Million Americans are Credit Invisible and have no credit file or a credit score and are looking to improve their credit score.
There are many ways to improve and raise your credit score over time like making your payments on time. There are also ways to create or raise your score quickly with tactics like becoming an authorized user and applying for new credit. When you are starting to build your credit history you will want to do many things right away and have a long game using other tactics. The most important thing is that you set realistic goals and work on it monthly.
We will show you in detail all of the ways you can improve your credit score. There are a few that work quickly and some that will take more time, but the more time you invest now the sooner you will be able to improve your score and make the purchases you want.
1. Becoming an authorized user is the fastest way to improve your credit score.
This is the fastest way to get a credit score when you are credit invisible. Asking a friend or family member to add you as an authorized user is a fairly simple process. There are some pitfalls you and the family member need to be aware of. You can read our full report here.
Becoming an authorized user of someone’s credit cards with a good credit history can give you an immediate credit file with their credit history! I found many people had no idea this was something they can do. You can and it works! FAST!
There are companies that will sell you access to trade lines. You can purchase the use of these trade lines for a couple of months until you are approved for whatever loan you are going for.
The way it works is that people with good credit are looking to earn extra income and will allow these companies to use their trade lines for the credit repair companies.
2. Get your late payments removed.
I know this seems obvious but it has to be said, never pay any bills late. If there is any risk of being 30 days late call your lender immediately. They have programs and offers that may allow you to put payments on the back of the loan.
As an example, during COVID 19 and times of natural disasters, many lenders offered an easy way to move your payments to the end of the loan. This is something they many even offer when there is not a national emergency.
Communication is the key to working with lenders. You will never know any solutions they have to offer if you do not call.
3. Reduce your debt.
Paying down your debt can have a great impact on your credit score. Why? Because your FICO Scores are based on 5 different factors. One of those factors is keeping your debt less than 30% of your credit limit and preferably 10% of your credit limit on your accounts. You can check your FICO Scores here.
Here is an example: If your credit limit is $1000 dollars you will not want to charge more than $100-300 on any monthly cycle before paying it off.
By keeping your credit utilization rate low you will show the scoring system that you are using your credit responsibly. Having high credit card balances does not mean you are a terrible risk but it is a warning to creditors that you are using your credit heavily.
4. Apply for a credit card.
Sometimes just the simple act of opening a new credit account can raise your score. But as with anything, there may be some pitfalls. If you are applying for credit you are adding a hard inquiry to your credit history. Too many hard inquiries can impact your score negatively.
You will want to apply for credit in a short period of time. I will usually apply to two or three cards in one day when I am looking to upgrade one of my points cards. Then I will refrain from applying as long as possible. Usually a year.
Or if I am shopping for a home or car I will apply in the same month. Don’t drag the process out and don’t apply for credit that you do not need. The hard inquiries will eventually weigh out the new credit.
5. Apply for a secured credit card.
Okay, so you applied for a credit card and you were denied. The next step is to apply for a secured credit card. Often secured credit cards will not do a hard credit inquiry. This makes sense because there is very little risk in the secured credit card business if they are getting a deposit equal to the credit line.
I like secured credit cards over credit cards that are for “bad credit”. Often credit cards designed for people with bad credit have high fees and interest rates to compensate for the risk they are taking by giving you a credit card. It is only fair. But the risk is mitigated when you are able to put a deposit in an account that they control. Secured credit cards are a great way to raise your score.
However, it is important to not that if you already have credit cards adding a new one probably will not move the needle in terms of your score. Over time the payment history and credit utilization will help your credit score improve.
6. Get a credit builder loan.
This is the same idea as the secured credit card but with an installment loan instead. This will help to show you can handle a mix of credit types because you are also getting an installment loan on your credit report showing a nice variety of credit accounts.
You will have to put money in a savings account to secure the loan but once it is paid in full the money will be released back to you. Over time credit builder loans are a great way to raise your score.
7. Pay twice a month on your credit cards.
This often happens to me. I will put a large purchase on a credit card to get the points. Even though I am paying it all off at the end of the month, my credit score will get a ding of a few points. This is because I had a high balance that was more than 30% of my credit limit. If you carry the balance to the payment date it will show your total balance to the credit reporting bureaus.
So what is the solution? Pay down your credit card balance before the payment is due. Making that early payment reduces the balance before the credit reporting bureaus are picking up on it.
The good news is when I ran my card up that one month and paid it off, the bank increased my credit limit an additional $3K dollars. The next month my score jumped up even higher than it was before.
8. Increase you credit limits.
You can call and ask your creditors to raise your credit limits on revolving credit lines. This includes credit cards and credit lines. This will change your credit utilization percentage. If you can get your credit limit high enough that your debt is only 30% of that limit then you will see your score increase.
All you do is go to your online account or call the 800 number to make your request. They will ask for your income and monthly housing payments and submit your application. You will find out immediately if the request is approved.
9. Review your credit report monthly for errors.
It is important that you are aware of your credit situation. If you have never ordered your free annual credit report then you need to now. Once you have found and rectified any errors your credit score will increase.
You will want to continue to monitor your credit monthly. This will help you to stay focused on your goals and be aware of any false information coming your way.
Sites like Credit Karma can help with this and you can see two of the three bureaus information on Credit Karma.
The sooner you deal with negative information the better.
10. Set up automatic payments.
Setting up automatic payments is a smart move if you have enough income. This ensures that you will never forget to have your payment taken out because the system will automatically take it from your accounts.
Setting up automatic payments will not improve your credit score but making on-time payments will and automatic payments guarantees that the payment will be made.
11. Set up payment reminders.
If you are not comfortable having your payments automatically taken from your account then you should set payment reminders in your calendar.
Setting up payment reminders is the next best thing to auto-pay because it still helps to remind you that payments are due. Setting up payment reminders will keep you on track for making on-time payments,
12. Don’t close your oldest credit card accounts.
I know this is tempting. I have one credit card that I try to use on occasion so it will stay active, and the only reason is because it is my oldest credit account. Once you close that account the history will slowly drift away and eventually you will lose that valuable credit history.
Closing the account will not lose any negative remarks or late payments but it takes so much away from calculating your credit score. It is important to keep your oldest credit account open regardless of late payments.
By closing it you are shrinking your available credit. It also shows you are able to manage your credit over the long term.
13. Be careful paying off old debts
Once a debt is charged off it means the creditor is no longer expecting to recover the debt. Typically the debt is sold to a collection agency who will then try to force you to pay it. Starting a new payment plan will start the clock over.
Here is an example:
You owe XYZ Store $500.00. The charge off date was 06/01/2018. After two years this is not hurting your credit score as much as it did in 2018. But on 05/01/2020 you start making payments. The collection agency said just pay $10 per month and it will clear everything up. Nope! It has now reactivated the bad account and the clock starts ticking from 2020, not 2018. Unfortunately, this can lower your credit score because the bad debt is now fresh.
Do not pay off old debts that are ready to come off of your credit report. And remember once you make any kind of payment you have restarted the seven-year clock.
14. Get a good mix of credit accounts
10% of your credit score is credit mix. This means that the different types of credit matter to your score. If you only have credit cards then you will most likely have a lower score than someone with a solid credit mix. These are the different types of credit that are considered a good credit mix.
- Auto Loans
- Credit Cards
- Personal Installment loans
- Student Loan
- Retail Credit Cards
- Gasoline Credit Cards
- Even rental data
You should try to have a variety of credit types so it shows you can handle many different types of credit.
15. Do not try a debt consolidation company.
Many people will try to use a debt consolidation company to reorganize and reduce their debt. While I agree with this theory in practice it can do more harm than good. Not to mention you can do it on your own,
Once you sign up for a debt consolidation program you can experience a drop in your credit score. You can try to work with your creditors on your own rather than paying someone to do it.
If you really need a debt consolidation company please make sure you do thorough research and ask a lot of questions.
Sometimes you end up paying more and I have seen where the debt consolidation company has actually caused the borrower to have more late payments because the debt consolidation company made the payments late.
You are giving someone a lot of control of your future when you use a debt consolidation company.
Credit repair and restoration is a long game. There are some things you can do right away but credit is something that also needs a long term plan. Make sure you are setting realistic monthly goals to get there. The sooner you start the sooner you will become Credit Visible and raise your credit score!
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