5 Steps for Improving Your Credit Score
For most people, a realistic timeframe to improve your score is 6 months. More serious problems such as delinquencies or bankruptcy take longer to fix. Do keep in mind that lenders have different policies about who qualifies for a loan and at what rate, and that recent behavior makes a difference.
The best and fastest fixes to raising your credit score:
- Fix any negative errors on your credit report
Be sure to check that balances are correct as this affects your credit utilization rate.
- Make all your payments on time
Consider signing up for auto-payment.
- Pay any outstanding bills that haven’t been sent to collection
If you are behind on your credit card or utility bills, pay those first. A payment 1-2 months late has less effect on your credit than one 3 months late.
- Pay any outstanding bills sent to collections
Show that you paid what you owed even though it’s late. If the amount has already been charged off, make sure you can pay it in full before paying or the clock starts again on the collections process and will stay on your account for another seven years.
- Reduce your credit utilization
It’s best to keep your utilization below 30-35%, but the lower, the better. As soon as creditors report lower balances, your utilization rate is lower and will be reflected in your score. Consider all your options to pay down credit balances to reach a 30% rate quickly including using any cash reserves, money from family or friends or a 401(k) loan. Retirement loans are not reported to credit bureaus and can usually be processed in a matter of weeks.