The following content is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute financial or legal advice. Average users who followed these tips and guidance may be able to improve their credit, however it is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. RISE is not acting as a credit counseling or repair service, debt consolidation service, or credit services organization in providing this content. 

A high credit score can open up more credit options, get you great rates, and save you a ton of money over your lifetime.

If you’ve made some mistakes in the past, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a lower credit score. While it takes time, you can start making moves today that’ll improve your financial situation and your credit history over time. Here’s how to raise your credit score (no matter where you’re starting from)

Key Takeaways:

Credit scores aren’t written in stone. Fixing past credit mistakes, paying your bills on time, keeping your debt low, and using a mix of credit can all help your score.

 

How to Raise Your Credit Score

If you’ve made a few financial mistakes in the past, you can recover and be well on your way to building a solid credit score.

  1. Fix Credit Mistakes

Errors on your credit report could be dragging down your credit score. Check your credit reports from Equifax®, TransUnion®, and Experian™ to make sure your reports are accurate. If you find mistakes on your reports, federal law gives you the right to dispute them.

Through April 20, 2022, you can view your credit reports free once per week. After April 20, 2022 you can claim a free credit report from each credit bureau once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

  1. Pay your bills on time

It's no surprise that paying your bills on time is the most important factor in calculating your credit score. In fact, payment history is worth about 35 percent of your FICO® score. If you struggle with late payments, try creating a budget to keep you on track. You can also set up payment reminders and schedule automatic payments to make it easy to keep good financial habits no matter how hectic life gets.

  1. Have a diverse mix of credit — if you need it

Credit scoring models reward you for having a variety of account types, such as a mortgage, auto loan, credit card, and installment loans. Although credit mix isn’t a huge factor, it is worth 10 percent of your FICO score. If you need to take on a loan and can comfortably make the monthly payments, adding to your credit mix may give you a slight boost. But keep in mind, since this is only a small factor in your credit score, it likely doesn’t make sense to add loans just to increase it. Stick to applying for what you need.

  1. Don’t apply for too much new credit

Anytime someone requests a copy of your credit report, an inquiry is recorded on your report. Some credit inquiries don’t hurt your credit score, such as when you check your own report. However, other inquiries, known as “hard inquiries,” have the potential to impact your credit score in a negative way. If you want to earn better scores, it’s best to only apply for new credit when you really need it.

  1. Pay down your credit card balances

Credit card debt plays an important role when it comes to your credit score. This is measured by both the total dollar amount owed and the credit utilization ratio. Making a big payment will decrease your credit utilization ratio, which can positively impact your credit score. While experts often recommend sticking to a specific percentage of your available credit limit, don’t sweat the specifics. Aim to pay down as much of your balance as you can each month. You’ll save money in interest in the long run and see a positive impact on your credit score.

  1. Pay off debt

One of the best things you can do for your financial (and mental) health is to get debt off your plate.  Often this will also lead to an improvement in your credit score.  However, the impact can also be uncertain - While reducing your helps your credit score, closing the account may impact other factors of your score.  By paying off the debt you may be closing a low utilization account or an account with a long credit age, which could adversely affect those aspects of your credit.  

  1. Become an authorized user on an existing account

Having a credit report that contains older, well-managed accounts is an important part of earning a high credit score. If you have a trusted family member who is willing to add you as an authorized user onto an existing credit card account, you could reap the benefit of your loved one’s good payment history. Keep in mind that any negative history or future late payments by your family member could hurt your credit score, too.

 

How to Build Credit Fast

It’s important to remember that it takes time to improve your credit. Stay the course, track your progress, and be patient. As long as you consistently follow these strategies, your credit score is likely to improve over time.

However, if you need a quick boost and can afford it, paying down (or paying off) credit card debt could have a big impact. Since your debt is the second biggest factor in your FICO credit score, paying down those debts could improve your credit score. But keep in mind: It won’t happen overnight. You’ll have to wait for the credit card company to report the change to the credit bureaus.

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