We live in an age where your credit score is increasingly becoming more important.
After all, this little three digit number will determine the interest rate you’ll receive on a loan – including your mortgage if you buy a house. It also affect you in unexpected ways – your credit score can determine your auto insurance premium, and even the amount of your security deposit when renting an apartment.
On-time payments are the single largest factor in your credit score and low credit utilization comes in second. Of course, knowing this doesn’t necessarily help: sometimes we just don’t have the liberty to pay down your balance to thirty percent of its utilization overnight
I won’t go into depth about all the factors that determine your score. Instead, we’ll just focus on what you can do today to improve your credit score as fast as possible.
Here are three quick ways you can improve your credit score today.
1. Obtain a Debt Consolidation Loan
If you’re looking to improve your score, chances are that you’re utilizing too much of your available credit. The rule of thumb is to stay under 30% utilization. So for example, if your credit card has a $10,000 credit limit, you’ll want to keep your revolving balance under $3,000. The more balance you’re carrying over, the more harm you’re doing to your credit score.
According to Payoff, a debt consolidation loan can improve your score by an average of 40 points! Paying down your debts with a personal loan will help you get on a structured payment to eliminate your debts once and for good. You’ll pay less in interest, get out of debt faster, and have the convenience of one monthly payment. Most online lenders will actually pull a soft inquiry during its initial pre-qualification phase so your score won’t be affected.
2. Call Your Creditor to Increase Your Credit Limit
This simple trick can literally be done within minutes. Depending on your creditor, your online account may have an option to request a credit line increase right in front of your computer. Capital One, for example, has this option.
So how do you increase your chances of getting an increase?
- Pay on Time: Even though you have 30 days to minimum payments before it’s reflected on your credit report, some creditors will internally track to see if you’re even one day late on your payment. Put calendar reminders if you have to but never be late on your payment.
- Pay More Than the Minimum: Even if you aren’t able to pay off the entire balance each month, you should always make an attempt to pay more than the minimum payment. Creditors will track your payment history which include both the amount & payment frequency.
- Monitor Your Score: Free services such as Credit Karma will actually update your score once a week. Try to time the credit line increase request when your score is near its highest peak. This will give you the best chance of getting approved.
3. Become an Authorized User On Another Account
Yes, this actually still works. The tough part about this is finding a friend or family member who is:
a) Willing to help you with this.
b) Going to actually pay their bills on time
According to Discover, “The first, and most important, thing to look for is whether the account holder pays their bills on time.” If the primary account holder is 30 days late on their payment, this will also be reflected on your credit report.
Try to become an authorized user on an account that has been opened for at least two years without any missed payments. You should be able to see an immediate increase in your score as soon as the account is added as a tradeline.
Once you’re able to give your score a little boost (or big boost), use this moment to continuously work on improving your score. It only takes one small mistake to see your score drop immensely, but it can take months of hard work to repair it.
Photo credit: FranceGothic Images – Creative Commons Attribution License