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5 Quick Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Holly Johnson
  • Credit
  • 5 minute read

Everyone wants to save money. And raising your credit score can save you significant money over the long haul in interest on credit cards, car loans, your mortgage and even possibly lower your insurance rates. Additionally, people with high credit scores are often approved for loans and credit cards quickly and with less hassle. Many people think that raising their credit score takes several years, which can be true to some extent. However, a raise of 20 or 30 points is possible in a short amount of time.

The most popular credit scoring method is your FICO credit score. Here are a few ways to quickly improve your FICO credit score:


1. Make all payments on time

According to MyFico.com, payment history makes up 35 percent of your score and is the single largest consideration in your credit score. Even though damage by late payments will show on your credit report for seven years, your most recent payment history carries the most weight. By showing a pattern of prompt payment, you can increase your score. To make sure you pay on time, consider setting up calendar reminders of when your bill is due, paying your credit card bill on the same day every month, or perhaps setting up automatic payments for a date you know the funds can be withdrawn.

2. Decrease amount of debt

You can also increase your score by paying down your debt to decrease your utilization percentage, which is the amount of credit you are using compared with the total credit available. “Many scoring models compare the amount of debt you have and your credit limits. If the amount you owe is close to your credit limit, it is likely to have a negative effect on your score,” states the Federal Reserve website.

Many experts agree that higher than a 10 percent credit utilization will impact your score, and a 50 percent credit utilization can dramatically reduce your number. Calculate your current credit utilization percentage; if you are close to either threshold, reducing your debt can quickly make a positive impact on your score.

3. Pay off credit cards with small balances

The number of credit cards that you have with a balance above zero is factored into your credit score. If you pay off cards with low balances, then your score will most likely be increased. However, once the card is paid off, consider carefully if you want to close the account or leave it open. Closing credit card accounts can inadvertently increase your debt utilization percentage, which decreases your credit score. As long as you’re not tempted to overspend, consider leaving the account open. Use it for a small purchase every few months, and pay it off in full to keep the account active and in good standing.

4. Check your credit report for errors

A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission found that one in five credit reports have errors on them. You should check your credit report every year to make sure that your identity has not been stolen and all accounts contain accurate information. You can request a credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com, which is the site sponsored by the federal government which offers completely free reports. If your score is currently being lowered by incorrect negative information, then removing the information will increase your score. If you share a name with a family member, such as your father or son, it is especially important to make sure that none of their information ends up on your credit report.

5. Limit inquiries and opening new accounts

Each time you open a new account or even when a creditor makes an inquiry on your credit report, your score can be impacted. “Inquiries for credit have a small impact on your score, but even a few points may be all you need to qualify for a lower interest rate,” writes John Ulzheimer, president of SmartCredit.com. “This can equate to a large savings in what you pay in interest for a mortgage, car loan or credit card.” While the inquiries officially stay on your report for 24 months, scoring models typically only use the information for 12 months. If you are planning to apply for a mortgage or other significant credit, limit inquiries and new accounts until after you are approved.


While none of these items will dramatically increase your score, you can see a moderate increase within a few months by following all of the steps and focusing on improving your score. And when it comes to your credit score, every few points can add up to a significant increase and significant savings.