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DEPARTMENTBy Scott SteinbergBoost your credit score Your credit score — a three-digit number between 300 and 850, with 650+ generally considered good — offers landlords and lenders a snapshot of your overall credit history and financial health. In effect, various business partners look to this figure as a helpful way to quickly screen and evaluate potential clients and weigh their potential risk.
If your credit score is lower than you’d like (which can lead to fewer or less advantageous interest rates) there are several ways to quickly increase the number. Here are a few strategies that can help you boost your credit score in the short and long terms.
Strategically pay down credit card balances. The lower the proportion of maximum card limits that you’re currently using (aka the smaller your credit use) when card issuers report to credit bureaus, the better off you are when they’re calculating credit scores. You want to keep to below 30% credit use. If yours is a little high, plan to pay your balance several times during the month before your billing cycle ends. Alternately, you can also ask for a higher credit limit, which can instantly lower your credit use proportionately. Free Credit Score Monitoring As part of the Credit Union’s Financial Wellness program, members enjoy free access to their credit report and credit score in addition to analysis and daily monitoring of key changes to their credit line. This service is accessible through online banking or our mobile app. For more information on other features designed to help you along your financial path, visit FinancialWellness.AACreditUnion.org. Discover more details here Get added as an authorized user. Does your spouse or family member have a strong credit score? You can boost your own rating by getting added to their account as an authorized user. Pro tip: The other party doesn’t have to provide you with an additional credit card (or even the account number) to enjoy a positive rub-off effect on your credit score when you use this strategy.
Manage money and credit reporting proactively. Late payments can stay on your credit report up to seven years — and every month that you’re delinquent can detract from your overall credit score. Noting this, it’s important to pay your bills on time. If you’ve missed or are in danger of missing a payment, speak with creditors ASAP, work out a payment plan and ask if they’ll refrain from reporting the missed payment going forward. Be vigilant of errors on your credit reports, which can impact scoring. Note that you’re entitled to receive free reports each year from the three major bureaus. It’s a good financial practice to request copies, review them, and dispute any mistakes immediately.
Apply for a secured credit card or additional credit options. Secured credit cards are powered by prepaid cash deposits, which you make up front and serve as your credit limit. By using these cards and making on-time payments, you can help build out your credit history. You can also expand your credit mix by applying for a credit builder loan or new credit card, as holding accounts in good standing can help boost credit scores. Just make sure before applying for additional accounts that providers report to all three credit bureaus.
Receive credit for utility and rent payment. Making on-time payments to utility providers and landlords or rent-reporting services count as credit. While not all credit-scoring services and models take these payments into account, some do, and a history of consistent payment can only help improve your overall standing.