How to Improve Your Credit Score

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

Reviewed by Subject Matter Experts

Updated on March 02, 2024

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Importance of a Good Credit Score

A credit score is a three-digit number that effectively summarizes an individual’s financial history.

A good credit score on the FICO Score range typically falls between 670 and 739. Meanwhile, very good to exceptional credit scores range from 740 to 850.

A good credit score can open doors for more flexible loan agreements and better interest rates on long-term investments such as mortgages. It can also offer the possibility of insurance discounts and security deposit waivers.

Checking your credit score and knowing where you stand financially is the first step toward achieving a healthy credit portfolio. Once you know your current situation, you can make more concrete plans to improve your credit.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Keeping your credit score healthy is an important aspect of financial responsibility. Here are some strategies to try:

Pay Your Bills on Time

A great way to improve your credit score is to make sure you pay your bills on time. Doing this can show lenders from different entities like banks and credit card companies that you are a responsible borrower and capable of managing your finances appropriately.

Late payments to creditors can have negative consequences, causing higher interest rates or additional fees for the delay and damaging your credit report.

If there are any issues with meeting deadlines for billing, contact the creditor directly as soon as possible, as some firms will be willing to work with customers who demonstrate a willingness to resolve their debts.

Taking proactive steps towards paying off loans and making payments according to the agreement can improve credit scores.

Review Your Credit Reports

Credit reports from the three major U.S. bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—contain information about your payment history and debt obligations.

Checking your reports at least once a year can help you identify any errors or incorrect entries that can improve your credit score when revised.

If you find an error in your report, you could file a dispute by contacting the credit reporting company that issued it. This will help ensure the credit bureaus have accurate information, which is key to maintaining a good credit score.

Monitoring your credit reports regularly is crucial for protecting yourself against identity theft and fraud as well. Knowing what is on those reports helps you catch any suspicious activity early and take control of any such situations quickly.

Manage Your Credit Utilization

One fundamental way to improve your credit score is by properly managing your credit utilization. This refers to the proportion of available credit you are currently using.

Although it might be tempting to incur significant debt at once, keeping your balance below 30% of the total limit of all credit cards will help improve your credit score.

You should also pay off any current debts monthly and on time. If this proves difficult or impossible, reach out to lenders and communicate openly about what you can afford to establish a repayment plan that meets their needs and yours.

Investing time into paying off existing debt while thinking ahead will significantly improve your credit score.

Utilize Score-Boosting Programs

Taking advantage of programs designed to boost credit scores makes improving credit scores more straightforward. ExperianBoost and UltraFICO are two such programs that offer an avenue to improve your credit score with minimal effort.

ExperianBoost allows users to receive a credit score increase by factoring previously uncounted utility or telecommunications payments into their existing account for better visibility of the user’s payment track record.

In contrast, UltraFICO provides an alternative to those consumers whose credit scores could be higher due to a lack of credit history or recent inactivity.

Together, these two programs present viable pathways toward improving one's credit score and forging a more positive relationship between consumers and lenders.

Limit New Account Applications

Improving your credit score is an essential step for financial stability. One way to help boost your credit score is to limit the number of new account applications you submit.

Every time you apply for a new account, it is classified as a “hard inquiry,” which can cause your credit score to drop slightly. If too many hard inquiries are submitted within a short amount of time, this can negatively impact your credit score even more.

To keep your credit score healthy, double-check how many accounts you need before submitting new applications and spread out any new account applications over time.

Leave Old Accounts Open

If you want to improve your credit score, leaving old accounts open is one way.

The longer an account has been opened, the better it is for your credit history. This is because longer-standing accounts show that you have a more extended financial history.

If your past activity in these accounts has been good, then this also shows you have been a reliable borrower for a longer period of time. This demonstrates responsibility when lenders evaluate your creditworthiness and can result in an improved credit score.

Monitor Your Credit

Credit monitoring services are one of the best ways to ensure your credit remains in top shape. These services can effectively alert you to changes made to your credit report and allow you to take quick action on any discrepancies or fraudulent activity that may appear on it.

Credit monitoring services, provided by various companies, check your credit status daily and alert you when there are changes, such as applications for new credit accounts. With this, you can easily watch out for suspicious activity, which can signify fraudulent behavior.

Overall, taking the time to watch your score strengthens it and helps protect against identity theft and other financial risks associated with poor score management.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

How Long Does It Take To Rebuild Credit?

Rebuilding credit is a process that requires patience and dedication over time. While there is no guaranteed timeline for how long it will take, the length varies from person to person. In some cases, it takes only months to see improvements, while in others, it may take years.

Usually, it depends on the damage sustained to credit due to prior activities. Factors that can delay progress in rebuilding credit include a heavy debt load, delinquencies, inability to make regular payments, or a recent declaration of bankruptcy.

Improving credit utilization and settling past-due accounts are crucial factors in raising one's overall score. Paying bills on time, tracking spending habits, and paying off all obligations can also tremendously impact rebuilding credit.

Ultimately, taking control of one's finances is the best strategy for maintaining good creditworthiness and establishing financial stability. If you need help rebuilding your credit, consult a financial advisor to help you create a comprehensive plan.

Final Thoughts

Improving your credit score can be a long process. Still, everyone needs to go through this because one’s creditworthiness may affect other aspects of your life, such as your ability to secure your dream home.

Developing financial awareness is one of the most important steps in improving your credit score. Knowing and working on the components that greatly influence your credit score, such as payment history and balance owed, is also essential.

It would be best if you avoided hard inquiries on your credit report by refraining from applying for new cards or loans unless necessary. It is also vital to make all payments on time; this includes loans, debt, and credit card payments.

Paying above the minimum balance on any outstanding debts will significantly reduce their effect on your credit score.

Finally, if you are struggling to pay off debt or maintain payments be sure to contact lenders or creditors sooner rather than later, as they may be able to provide modifications or other restructuring options.

Following these tips can significantly improve your financial standing and help rebuild a strong credit score for a secure financial future.

How to Improve Your Credit Score FAQs

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website or view his author profiles on Amazon, Nasdaq and Forbes.

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