7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Right Now (2024)

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A good credit score can save you a lot of money when it’s time to take out a loan. Whether you need a mortgage, student loan or personal loan, your score will factor into how much you pay in interest. Plus, a strong credit score can make it easier to find an apartment, get insurance and qualify for some of the best credit cards.

Read on for some strategies that can help you increase your credit score and improve your financial situation.

Table of contents

  • How to raise your credit score
  • Pay your bills on time
  • Keep your credit utilization low
  • Leave old accounts open
  • Only apply for credit when absolutely necessary
  • Consider a secured credit card
  • Monitor your credit score
  • Seek professional credit counseling
  • Improve your credit score FAQs

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How to raise your credit score

The two primary credit scoring models are the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) score and VantageScore. Most lenders use the FICO model, while VantageScores are often offered to consumers for free through credit monitoring services. However, both scoring models evaluate similar financial factors and use a numerical range from 300 to 850.

Your credit score is extremely important because it can determine whether you’re approved for a loan or credit card, and the type of rates you’ll get. Lenders will offer their best rates and terms to consumers with high credit scores; conversely, borrowers with poor credit scores will either have trouble being approved or pay much higher interest rates.

Here are some steps you can take to raise your credit score:

1. Pay your bills on time

Your payment history is the most influential factor in your credit score. From a lender’s perspective, an established history of on-time payments is a good indicator that you’ll handle future debts responsibly. This makes paying your bills by their due date the best way to improve your credit score.

If you’ve had a history of late payments, the best thing to do is to make timely payments now and wait for the late payments to drop off from your report. Late payments and delinquencies such as collections, repossessions, foreclosures and settlements stay on your report for seven years, and bankruptcies for no longer than 10.

However, if some of those reported payments are incorrect or unfairly reported, you can also dispute them with the credit bureaus or contact one of the best credit repair companies to handle it for you.

2. Keep your credit utilization rate low

Your credit utilization ratio is a percentage that represents how much of your available credit you’re using. You can calculate it by dividing your credit card balances by your total credit limits. For example, if you have two cards each with a $5,000 limit and owe $500 in each one,your credit utilization ratio is $1,000 divided by $10,000, or 10%.

Many experts recommend keeping your utilization ratio below 30%. John Ulzheimer, credit expert, formerly of FICO and Equifax, says you should aim for 10% or less, if possible. “The higher that ratio, the fewer points you’re going to earn in that category, and your scores are absolutely going to suffer,” he says. “In fact, people who have the highest average FICO scores have a utilization of 7%.”

The date your credit card provider reports to the credit bureaus may also impact your utilization rate. Ulzheimer points out that FICO’s scoring systems don’t differentiate between those who pay in full each month and those who carry a balance. Your utilization rate at the time your issuer reports to the credit bureaus is what's used for your score.

3. Leave old accounts open

While many people’s first instinct is to cancel credit cards so as to eliminate the temptation to use them, it’s important to note that closing old credit card accounts can actually lower your score.

Closing a credit card, even if you don’t use it, lowers your overall available credit limit. This consequently increases your credit utilization ratio and can lower your score, especially if you’re carrying balances on your other cards.

Additionally, you’re better off keeping a card open if you’ve been paying it on time. Its records may actually help your credit score by showing lenders you have a history of responsible debt management.

“An account that’s paid in full is a good thing; however, closing an account isn’t something that consumers should automatically do in the hopes that it will positively impact their credit score,” says Nancy Bistritz-Balkan, vice president of communications and consumer education at Equifax. “Having an account with a long history and solid track record of paying bills on time, every time, are the types of responsible habits lenders and creditors look for.”

4. Only apply for credit when absolutely necessary

Every time you apply for a new line of credit, the lender runs a hard inquiry on your credit report. Such credit inquiries lower your score temporarily. With this in mind, applying for a new credit card just to see if you get approved or because you received a pre-qualified offer is not a good idea.

A single hard credit check might only slightly ding your credit score. However, a string of hard inquiries could signal to lenders that you’re facing financial struggles or taking on too much debt. The effects of a hard credit pull on your score, according to a representative of TransUnion, can last up to 12 months.

If you do need to apply for a new credit line, improve your likelihood of approval by comparing lender requirements before applying. If possible, get a pre-qualification, as in many cases these result in a soft rather than hard credit pull. Soft pulls don’t affect your credit score.

When you’re shopping for a mortgage, auto loan or personal loan, keep hard inquiries to a minimum by comparing interest rates within a short time period. Applications for the same type of loan within a time frame of around 14 days only appear as a single hard inquiry on your report.

5. Consider a secured credit card

If you have a short credit history, a secured credit card can help you establish credit for the first time or improve a bad credit score if used responsibly. Credit card companies have lenient requirements for secured cards since borrowers need to provide a cash deposit as collateral.

Secured cards may charge an annual fee, and their interest rates are often higher when compared to traditional credit cards. However, if you pay off your full balance each month, you’ll avoid piling interest charges and establish a timely payment record.

6. Monitor your credit score

Monitoring your score’s fluctuations every few months can help you understand how well you’re managing your credit and whether you should make any changes. You can check your credit score as often as you like since it results in a soft inquiry, which doesn't lower your score the way hard inquiries do.

Some financial institutions provide a free credit score through your online account or with your monthly statement. You can also use a credit monitoring service. These services simplify the process by sending an alert if your score changes, and they usually point out recent actions that might have caused the change.

Note that credit monitoring services usually include the VantageScore, which are not commonly used by lenders. However, checking your credit score is still a useful financial practice that might even alert you of possible identity theft.

7. Seek professional credit counseling

A professional credit counselor can evaluate your financial situation and offer advice on how to improve your credit score. They often work for non-profit credit counseling agencies and can provide free financial education and workshops.

When you meet with a credit counselor, they’ll go over your credit history with you and determine what factors are hurting your credit and how to fix it. They may also recommend a budget or a debt management plan to prevent delinquencies or bankruptcies.

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Improve your credit score FAQs

Why does a good credit score matter?

A good credit score can help you secure better interest rates and improve your odds of approval when you apply for a mortgage, auto loan or credit card. It could also help you get a lower premium on insurance policies and, since many landlords are now running credit checks as part of the rental application process, can also increase your chances of being approved for a rental property.

How is your credit score calculated?

There are several credit scoring models, but they consider similar factors, including your credit mix, recent credit applications, credit history length, payment history, existing debt levels and credit utilization rate (or ratio).

Each model weighs each factor differently. However, they usually place higher importance on your payment history and credit utilization.

How long does it take to rebuild credit?

The time needed to rebuild your credit score depends on what lowered it in the first place. If closing a credit card account dinged your score, it may take only a few months to see improvement. However, if you filed for bankruptcy or had accounts sent to collections, it can take years to recover, and the negative item can remain on your credit report between seven to 10 years.

How often should I check my credit score?

How often you should check your credit score depends on your goals. Most experts recommend checking your credit score annually if you’re not applying for new credit lines or if you aren’t too concerned about changes. Otherwise, you might consider checking it monthly to monitor how your financial decisions are affecting your score.

7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Right Now (2024)


What are the 7 ways you can boost your credit score? ›

7 ways to improve your credit score
  • Set alerts to stay on top of your bills. The single best thing you can do for your credit score is pay your bills on time. ...
  • Limit your credit usage rate. ...
  • Choose the right repayment plan. ...
  • Keep old credit open. ...
  • Use a secured credit card. ...
  • Manage your credit checks. ...
  • Check your credit report.

How can I raise my credit score 7 points? ›

6 easy tips to help raise your credit score
  1. Make your payments on time. ...
  2. Set up autopay or calendar reminders. ...
  3. Don't open too many accounts at once. ...
  4. Get credit for paying monthly utility and cell phone bills on time. ...
  5. Request a credit report and dispute any credit report errors. ...
  6. Pay attention to your credit utilization rate.

What are five 5 tips for improving your credit score? ›

Here are five credit-boosting tips.
  • Pay your bills on time. Why it matters. Your payment history makes up the largest part—35 percent—of your credit score. ...
  • Keep your balances low. Why it matters. ...
  • Don't close old accounts. Why it matters. ...
  • Have a mix of loans. Why it matters. ...
  • Think before taking on new credit. Why it matters.

What is the trick to increasing your credit score? ›

Get a Handle on Bill Payments

If you paid your debts responsibly and on time, it works in your favor. So a simple way to raise your credit score is to avoid late payments at all costs.

How to raise credit score 20 points fast? ›

  1. Pay credit card balances strategically.
  2. Ask for higher credit limits.
  3. Become an authorized user.
  4. Pay bills on time.
  5. Dispute credit report errors.
  6. Deal with collections accounts.
  7. Use a secured credit card.
  8. Get credit for rent and utility payments.
Mar 26, 2024

What habit lowers your credit score? ›

Actions that can lower your credit score include late or missed payments, high credit utilization, too many applications for credit and more. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax now offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.

How to raise credit score 50 points in 30 days? ›

There are several ways to raise your credit score in 30 days. Reducing your credit utilization is one of the fastest ways to raise your credit score, and you can do it by paying down debt, spending less, paying your bill more often or asking for a higher spending limit.

How can I raise my credit score 100 points overnight? ›

10 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
  1. Review Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Pay Your Bills on Time. ...
  3. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness. ...
  4. Keep Credit Card Balances Low. ...
  5. Keep Old Credit Cards Active. ...
  6. Become an Authorized User. ...
  7. Consider a Credit Builder Loan. ...
  8. Take Out a Secured Credit Card.

How to fix your credit yourself? ›

Here are 11 steps you can take on your own to steer your credit in the right direction.
  1. Check Your Credit Report. ...
  2. Dispute Credit Report Errors. ...
  3. Bring Past-Due Accounts Current. ...
  4. Set Up Autopay. ...
  5. Maintain a Low Credit Utilization Rate. ...
  6. Pay Off Debt. ...
  7. Avoid Applying for New Credit. ...
  8. Keep Unused Credit Accounts Open.
Apr 22, 2023

What are the 5 C's of good credit? ›

The five Cs of credit are important because lenders use these factors to determine whether to approve you for a financial product. Lenders also use these five Cs—character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions—to set your loan rates and loan terms.

How can I improve my credit score in 10 days? ›

4 tips to boost your credit score fast
  1. Pay down your revolving credit balances. If you have the funds to pay more than your minimum payment each month, you should do so. ...
  2. Increase your credit limit. ...
  3. Check your credit report for errors. ...
  4. Ask to have negative entries that are paid off removed from your credit report.

How to rebuild credit fast? ›

8 ways to help rebuild credit
  1. Review your credit reports. ...
  2. Pay your bills on time. ...
  3. Catch up on overdue bills. ...
  4. Become an authorized user. ...
  5. Consider a secured credit card. ...
  6. Keep some of your credit available. ...
  7. Only apply for credit you need. ...
  8. Stay on top of your progress.

What are the 11 words in credit secrets? ›

Are debt collectors persistently trying to get you to pay what you owe them? Use this 11-word phrase to stop debt collectors: “Please cease and desist all calls and contact with me immediately.” You can use this phrase over the phone, in an email or letter, or both.

Can I pay someone to fix my credit? ›

You can always try to repair your credit yourself; however, depending on your financial situation, working with a reputable credit repair service may save you time and provide a better outcome in the long run.

How can I raise my credit score 200 points in 30 days? ›

Try paying debts and maintaining your credit utilisation ratio of 30% or below. There are two ways through which you can pay off your debts, which are as follows: Start paying off older accounts from lowest to highest outstanding balances. Start paying off based on the highest to lowest rate of interest.

How can I raise my credit score 10 points fast? ›

To raise your credit score by 10 points, you can dispute errors on your credit report, pay your bills on time and lower your credit utilization. Credit scores rise and fall based on the contents of your credit report, so adding positive information to your report will offset negative entries and increase your score.

How to increase credit score by 100 points in 30 days? ›

Steps you can take to raise your credit score quickly include:
  1. Lower your credit utilization rate.
  2. Ask for late payment forgiveness.
  3. Dispute inaccurate information on your credit reports.
  4. Add utility and phone payments to your credit report.
  5. Check and understand your credit score.
  6. The bottom line about building credit fast.

How do I raise my credit score 40 points fast? ›

Here are six ways to quickly raise your credit score by 40 points:
  1. Check for errors on your credit report. ...
  2. Remove a late payment. ...
  3. Reduce your credit card debt. ...
  4. Become an authorized user on someone else's account. ...
  5. Pay twice a month. ...
  6. Build credit with a credit card.
Feb 26, 2024


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