Knowing how to build credit — and what not to do — are essential for moving up the credit score scale. You don’t have to do anything drastic to see an improvement either. There are some relatively simple ways to get your score back on track quickly. The work regardless of whether you have a 320 credit score or an 800 credit score.
1. Clean Up Credit Reporting Errors
Your credit score is based on what’s in your credit report. That includes things like your payment history, balance and credit limits for all your credit accounts, as well as how often you apply for new credit, the age of your credit lines and the types of credit you’re using. So, if you’ve got a 320 credit score you’ll need to improve all of these things.
Having a mistake on your report, like an incorrectly reported late payment or the wrong balance, could take points away from your score. Don’t pay to check your credit. Check your reports from the three major credit bureaus for free through AnnualCreditReport.com for errors and don’t hesitate to dispute any inaccuracies you find.
2. Your Credit Utilization Ratio Will Improve A 320 Credit Score
One of the most important things that affect your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. That refers to how much of your available credit you’re using. Ideally, you’d want to use 10% or less of your total credit limit at any given time, but you can see an improvement in your score by getting it down to 30%.
So how do you improve your ratio? First, you can pay down a chunk of your credit card debt. If you don’t have cash on hand, however, that can take time. If you want to see quicker results, you can either request a credit limit increase on your existing credit card accounts or open a new credit card.
A word of caution about the latter, however. Each inquiry for new credit can ding your score by a few points. It’s better to try for a credit limit increase on accounts you already have first. If that’s not an option, you can look around for a new credit card. Remember to check your credit first to get an idea of what kind of cards you’ll qualify for.
3. Leverage Someone Else’s Good Credit
If you’re brand-new to building credit, getting credit cards or raising the limit on a card you already have may be challenging. An easier way to boost your score is to ask someone you know to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit card accounts.
Being an authorized user means that their account history shows up on your credit report. As long as they’re paying on time and using their card responsibly, your score can reap the benefits of their good behavior.
4. Don’t Cheat
Improving your credit score will take sustained effort. There is no way around doing the hard work, paying off your debt, removing extraneous information, etc. The internet is full of debt consolidation companies and dubious service providers who say they can improve your credit by “hacking the credit reporting agencies” or by changing your name. Avoid shortcuts. They won’t help you develop the habits you need to be successful and many are predatory or engage in illegal activity.
Remember to track your credit score progress each month to see how your efforts are paying off. You can get your free credit score instantly from Credit Sesame.
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