It’s never too late to start improving your credit score. Below are 9 tips to help get you started on the journey to improving your credit score. But before you look at this list, know that this is just a starting point and that there are no quick fixes for improving your credit score. Therefore, decide today that you will commit to the journey and be patient with the process.
- Pull your credit report and find out exactly what is on there. You can use freecreditreport.com to get your credit report for free. (You should never pay to get your credit report because there are plenty of frauds that will try and convince you otherwise.) There may be information on your credit report that doesn’t belong to you. This happens a lot more than you’d think. If you’ve found misinformation on your credit report, make some phone calls to get that misinformation taken off.
- Get an app that monitors credit score activity, such as credit karma or credit sesame. Both apps are free and give you additional resources and tips for improving your credit score.
- If you have a credit card, increase your credit card limit. This may seem counter-intuitive. However, part of your credit score is based on staying under a 30% utilization rate. Therefore, by increasing your credit limit, you have lowered your credit card utilization rate. But this doesn’t mean that you go and spend more money. In fact, I recommend that after you increase your credit limit that you cut up your credit cards or put them somewhere that you can’t access because the goal is not to add on more debt.
- Make a plan to pay off your debt. I know it can be scary and overwhelming, finding out how much money you owe but it’s important. I believe we should never get comfortable with having debt, nor should you believe that debt is just a part of being an adult. Once you know how much debt you owe, select a debt repayment plan. There are a few different strategies out there that you can select, such as the debt snowball strategy, where you pay off the smallest amount of debt owed first or the debt avalanche method, where you focus on paying off the accounts with the highest interest. Do your research and then select the plan that works best for you.
- If at all possible, pay more than the minimum amount due, this will help speed up the debt repayment process, which will also help boost your credit score.
- Do not open any new accounts, since doing so will require having your credit score checked. This is known as a hard inquiry and hard inquiries lower your credit score. Also, don’t close any accounts, unless you absolutely have to. The longer you’ve had a certain line of credit, the better your credit score.
- Stop spending money. I repeat stop spending money! If you do not have cash for it, then you can’t have it. Harsh, but the less that you spend on those impulse buys, the more money that you can put towards paying off your debt.
- Set up a system to make sure that you pay your bills on time because re-occurring late payments also hurt your credit score. You can set-up reminders on your phone, automate payments, or set aside a specific time during the week or month to pay off all of your bills at once.
- If you have debt that has gone into collections, negotiate a deal with debt collectors to see if you can reduce the amount you owe.
Again, this list is not conclusive but it is a good starting point. Definitely, continue seeking out knowledge that will help you in your specific situation. You may want to speak with a financial advisor and see what resources there are in your area to do so. Most importantly, stay committed to the journey and don’t get discouraged, this is one journey that will literally pay off if you stick with it!