A credit score is an important three digit code that can impact your financial life. If you have a score that needs a lift, here are five ways to improve your score today.
Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
- Check your credit report. The first step is to check your credit report. This is the quickest way to spot any errors that need to be adjusted. If you see that there’s an account open that you didn’t open or other suspicious, fraudulent charges, you can alert the company and the credit bureau instantly. The same is true for errors. You may have made a payment on time, but it got reported to the credit bureau as a late payment. Dispute any errors to get them adjusted. This will reflect on your credit report. Credit Sesame offers a free credit monitoring service to watch your report for you.
- Pay your bills on time. A huge factor of your credit score is paying your bills on time. See the impact just one late payment has in this picture. If you’re having difficulty getting the money at that date, call whoever you’re paying (credit card company, loan lender, medical office, and so on) and request to change the date your bill is due. For example, most places would be willing to push your due date until the end of the month if you get paid near that date. Another option to be able to pay your bills on time is, if possible, trying to lower your monthly payments. If you have student loans, you may be eligible to lower your payments by going on an income-based repayment schedule. Talk to your lender to see if they can put you on a payment plan.
If you have the money, but are just forgetting to pay on time, get organized. Set up automatic payments when you can so payments get automatically withdrawn from your checking account. Of course with this, you need to always be certain you have sufficient funds in your account. Set up e-mail alerts to pay bills, write it on your calendar, and send yourself reminders. Here are 8 easy ways to organize and simplify your bills.
- Work on paying down your credit card balances. It’s easier than it sounds, but do whatever you can do to start paying down your credit card balances and any outstanding loans. Cut your expenses by using coupons, cooking at home instead of going out to eat, scale back your cell phone and cable plans, and reevaluate your spending. Make extra money any way you can. Find ways to make extra money, sell your belongings, and if possible, get a part-time job or extra side work.
- Pause before opening new accounts. According to Experian.com, new inquiries on your credit report will lower your score. So before you open that next account, really consider if you need it or how it will impact you. See How Much Do Credit Inquiries Really Matter? to get a better understanding how inquiries impact you.
- Stop charging. FICO specialists recommend keeping your debt-to-credit ratio 30% or lower. Unless you are able to pay off your balance, stop using your charge card as a way to fund your lifestyle. Get in the habit of using cash instead so you’re not going further into debt.
How else can you improve your credit score? If you tried to improve your credit score, what worked for you?