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What is the fastest way to improve your credit score?

2nd April 2024 Print

Improving your credit score is a gradual process that requires discipline and consistency. While there's no magic bullet to instantly boost your score, several strategies can help expedite the process and enhance your creditworthiness over time. Here are some of the fastest ways to improve your credit score:

Check Your Credit Report Regularly

Start by obtaining a copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Review the reports carefully to identify any errors or inaccuracies that could be dragging down your score. Dispute any discrepancies you find to have them corrected promptly. There are also free ways to check your score through your government, including here for the US and here for the UK.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Payment history is the most significant factor influencing your credit score, constituting roughly 35% of the FICO score calculation. Make it a priority to pay all your bills—credit cards, loans, utilities, etc.—on time each month. Even a single late payment can have a detrimental impact on your score, so set up reminders or automatic payments to ensure punctuality.

Reduce Credit Card Balances

Your credit utilization ratio, or the amount of credit you're using relative to your total available credit, plays a crucial role in determining your credit score. Aim to keep this ratio below 30%, with lower utilization generally leading to a higher score. Paying down credit card balances can quickly lower your utilization and improve your credit score.

Avoid Opening Too Many New Accounts

While having a mix of credit types can be beneficial for your score, opening multiple new accounts within a short period can raise red flags to lenders, explains Capital Bean, a money saving platform. Each new application generates a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your score. Focus on managing your existing accounts responsibly rather than pursuing unnecessary credit.

Become an Authorized User

If you have a trusted friend or family member with a strong credit history, consider becoming an authorized user on one of their credit accounts. As an authorized user, you can benefit from their positive payment history and utilization rate, potentially giving your score a boost. However, ensure that the primary account holder maintains responsible credit habits to avoid any adverse effects.

Negotiate with Creditors

If you're struggling to keep up with payments due to financial hardship, don't hesitate to reach out to your creditors and explain your situation. They may be willing to work out a revised payment plan or settle for a lower amount to help you get back on track. Negotiating with creditors can prevent accounts from falling into delinquency or collections, which would further damage your credit.

Use Experian Boost or Similar Services

Experian Boost and similar services allow you to add non-traditional payment data, such as utility and telecom bills, to your credit file. This can potentially increase your credit score by reflecting additional positive payment history. While the impact may vary, it's worth exploring these options to give your score a quick lift.

Consider a Secured Credit Card

If you have trouble qualifying for a traditional credit card, a secured credit card can be a useful tool for rebuilding credit. With a secured card, you'll need to make a security deposit, which serves as your credit limit. Responsible use of a secured card, including making timely payments and keeping balances low, can demonstrate creditworthiness and improve your score over time.

In conclusion, improving your credit score requires patience and diligence, but by following these strategies consistently, you can accelerate the process and pave the way toward a healthier credit profile. Remember to monitor your progress regularly and celebrate milestones along the way as you work towards achieving your financial goals.