Posted: 5 March 2019
Your FICO score may seem unassuming at first. After all, it’s just a three-digit number, right?
Unfortunately, this three-digit number impacts many parts of your life from if you can get a car or home to your likelihood to be hired for certain jobs.
FICO credit scores range from 350 to 850. As of April of 2017, only 20.7 percent of Americans had a FICO score over 800.
The good news is, even if your credit rating is in the Fair, Poor or Bad fields, there are a few credit hacks you can use to improve your number. If you are interested in learning what these hacks are, keep reading.
1. Monitor Your Reports
Did you know that up to five percent of all consumers currently have some type of error on their credit report? It is up to you to ensure these are addressed. No one else is going to take care of this for you.
You are allowed to request free copies of your credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax once a year. Be sure to read over the reports carefully for any mistakes, including purchases you haven’t made, multiple entries for the same thing, or unpaid balances.
If you find an error, make sure you report or dispute it immediately.
2. Reduce Your Balances
Higher balances on your credit cards are going to reduce your credit score. As a result, it’s a good idea to keep your balances under 30 percent of your total credit limit (of all cards and loan combined).
Those in the financial industry refer to this as your credit utilization. The idea of “less is more” is definitely true when it comes to your credit score.
3. Time Your Payments and Pay On Time
It doesn’t matter if you plan to pay off your credit cards fully each month, or not, you can impact your credit rating by paying your bills at the wrong time.
When is this wrong time? When they are due.
The reason this specific payment pattern may hurt your credit score is that creditors are only reporting your balance to the credit bureaus one time a month. Depending on when the balances are reported, you may be perceived as a riskier borrower than you really are.
If you want to increase your score quickly, pay the balances on your credit card before the due date. When you do this, the credit card company is going to report your reduced balance, which helps your rating.
It’s also important to make payments on time. This factor alone accounts for 35 percent of your credit score.
It’s a good idea to set up reminders or even enroll in automatic payments to help you avoid missing a payment. By making consistent payments, on-time, your credit rating is going to continue to go up.
4. Avoid Too Many Credit Inquiries
It’s completely understandable you may need to apply for online loans for bad credit from time to time to help with an unexpected expense or emergency. However, try to minimize the number of hard inquiries on your credit report.
Every time you apply for new credit (this can be an installment loan, credit card, mortgage, etc.) a hard inquiry is applied to your credit report. These hard inquiries make up 10 percent of your total credit score.
While this isn’t a huge amount, it can make a huge difference. If you don’t really need more credit, just don’t apply.
5. Keep Credit Accounts Open, Even If You Aren’t Using Them
Another way that you can reduce your credit utilization is to keep your old credit cards open. This doesn’t mean you have to use them, just don’t close the account.
If you want, you can even cut up the actual card, so you aren’t tempted. However, keep it active and the account open so that you have credit available.
6. Reduce Your Total Debts
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important enough to mention here. Even if you keep minimal balances, if you have a large number of debts, it could reflect badly on your credit score.
It’s a good idea to consolidate your smaller balances into one bigger loan. It will look better on your credit report.
Another option is to use your tax refund to pay off your debt. This is a smart use for this money.
7. Become an Authorized User
If your credit score needs a boost, ask a family member with good credit to add you as an authorized user on their account.
There’s a dual benefit of this. You can reap the benefits of their good credit habits and you can be taken off of their account at any time. This reduces the risk for them while giving you the boost you are looking for.
Credit Hacks That Work: Now You Know
If you are searching for credit hacks that will help improve your FICO score, then start with the options listed here. By taking these steps, you may see an instant boost in your score, which is something everyone can appreciate.
While this is true, it is important to remember it can take up to a month to see any change in your credit report. As mentioned before, creditors only report balances and other information to the credit agencies once a month.
If you found the information here useful, and are looking for other helpful information, check out our blog on the 10 best watches under $100. Our team is dedicated to helping you find the information you need to make informed decisions about your money, life, and more.