2019 is right around the corner, which means thousands of Americans will be making resolutions to improve their finances in the new year. If your financial goals include a credit boost, this could be your year - without even trying.
Read on to discover three ways you may get a credit boost in 2019, including tips to take matters into your own hands.
How to get a credit boost in 2019
Having less-than-perfect credit can be a real bummer. Consumers with lower credit scores are subject to the highest interest rates, lowest loan amounts, and can experience difficulty securing the loans they need to get ahead.
That said, it’s important to realize being classified as a subprime or near-prime borrower isn’t a life sentence. Here are three ways you could get a credit boost this year.
1. Ride the wave of higher scores
For the eighth consecutive year, average credit scores in the US have risen. In fact, they recently hit an all-time high of 704.
There are a few reasons this may be happening. Over the past year, major credit reporting agencies have changed the way they handle negative information such as tax liens, giving many consumers an automatic boost. Meanwhile, a decrease in credit inquiries and derogatory indicators (like late payments) have driven scores higher en masse.
Bottom line? If you haven’t checked your score lately, now might be a good time to see if it’s gone up without you knowing it.
2. Opt-in with UltraFICO
FICO recently announced its new opt-in credit model expected to launch in 2019. Dubbed UltraFICO, this score is designed to help more people qualify for the loans and financial products they need but can’t get due to lower FICO credit scores.
Unlike the traditional scoring model, UltraFICO will use information from checking, savings and money market accounts to boost the credit scores of subprime borrowers. The new scoring system is expected to help consumers with scores in the high 500s and low 600s get access to better terms, rates and loans.
David Shellenberger, senior director of scores and predictive analytics at FICO, says that the UltraFICO credit score is meant to benefit two types of consumers:
- Individuals with little to no credit history
- People who need to rebuild after a personal financial crisis
UltraFICO will be distributed by Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus in the United States. The initial rollout will be limited to a handful of credit unions as well as online, non-traditional lenders.
FICO plans to make the UltraFICO score available nationwide in mid to late 2019.
3. Boost your own credit
If your credit isn’t where you want or need it to be, you can do something about it. In fact, you can do a lot of somethings about it.
Here are a few tried-and-true strategies:
- Make on-time payments: Whether to the library, cable company or mortgage lender - making on-time payments is essential to boosting your credit.
- Don’t skip out on payments: Even if it seems like your only option, never skip a payment. Consider borrowing cash from a friend or family member to cover a bill. You can also try calling the company to change the date your payment is due, which could buy you enough time to come up with the money on your own.
- Refinance student loans: Still paying down student loan debt? Whether you’re ten months or ten years out of college, you can refinance your student loans. You might even qualify for a lower APR or be able to reduce your monthly payment amounts.
- Pay off credit card debt: This may not be possible tomorrow, but paying off your existing credit card debt is a good goal to have. If you’re currently making minimum monthly payments only, try increasing the amount by $50-$100 every month. The more you pay down your debt, the less interest you’ll pay. Your credit score will also increase as your outstanding debt decreases.
- Consolidate credit card debt: If you have multiple outstanding credit card accounts and can’t swing paying them down each month, consider consolidating your debt into one monthly payment. A personal installment loan, for example, is considered less risky and more score-friendly than revolving credit card debt. According to personal finance and credit expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, swapping bad debt out for good debt can boost your credit score in as little as 30 days.
Join the RISE Credit Score Plus program
Don’t wait for the ball to drop before boosting your credit score. Start implementing changes today with the RISE Credit Score Plus program, which allows you to access your TransUnion credit score for free and alerts you to any changes on your report.
With a little help from RISE, make 2019 the year you conquer your credit score for good.