You've checked your credit score (with LearnVest's step-by-step instructions), and now you want to make sure it's good. We want your score to be above 760--the golden standard of "excellent" credit--so we bring you ways to raise your credit score right now! Whether you're trying to raise your score or maintain your top-notch report, here are 9 tips to help you see an immediate change in that magic number:
Watch for Mistakes
Examine your credit report for mistakes. If your report is wrong in any way, contact the credit reporting bureaus to fix the error. Read this synopsis for detailed instructions on disputing charges with each bureau.
Attack That Debt
Tackle credit card debt first. Paying off student loans or mortgages can help raise your score, but getting rid of credit card debt will have the biggest effect.
Know Your Limits
Check the credit limit on each card, and then figure out what percent of that limit you’re currently using. Aim to use less than 30% of the limit on each card, because using a high percentage weighs down your score. Maxing out your card is a cardinal sin!
Keep an Eye on Credit Checks
Every time someone checks your credit, your credit score drops. If you’re shopping around for a loan, submit applications in a condensed time frame (like a couple weeks, if possible). If all the inquiries come as a cluster within a short time frame, they will be treated more favorably. To minimize the credit checks, ask one of the people who checked your score for a copy of the report for your own records. For other inquiries around the same time frame, see if you can send that copy instead of undergoing another credit check.
Don’t Throw Out or Cancel Your Oldest Card
The further back your credit history goes, the better your score. So, if you still have your oldest credit card and it's not currently your main card, keep it active by buying something small on it every so often and paying that off immediately, in full.
Negotiate With Your Creditors
Believe it or not, creditors don’t exist for the sole purpose of making your life miserable. Many will negotiate if you show a good faith effort to pay your bills back as soon as possible. The worst thing to do is to avoid the topic and keep missing payments.
Blot Out Late Payments
If your last late payment was more than six months ago and you've been paying on time since then, Credit Karma suggests that you "try to convince your creditor to remove this late payment. If the lender agrees, this tends to boost your credit score quickly." For example, if you missed a bill from a company like AT&T but have been paying on time since then, literally pick up the phone and call. A customer service representative should be able to direct you to the right department.
Watch Out for Balance Chasing
Many times, when consumers pay down a big chunk of credit card debt, card companies then lower those people's credit limits. This means that the card company has taken on less risk, but it also means that the consumers' credit scores suffer because they're using a greater percentage of a lower credit limit. If this happens to you, Credit Karma recommends applying for a new credit card in order to raise that total credit limit. (See point 3.)
Be Strategic About Which Cards You Pay Off
If you have debt on multiple credit cards and one of them is for a card that you've already canceled, read this. The credit limit of each open card raises your total limit for your credit score. But, the limits of closed cards will continue to count toward your score as long as there's a balance on them. So, unless that closed card's APR is your highest, consider paying off the other cards first so that your score can benefit from the higher credit limit.
Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly how much these tips will raise your score, since every credit history is different. That said, we expect that you’ll see some positive changes soon after springing to action!