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A good credit score can make borrowing money, getting a cellphone or leasing an apartment easier. Good credit can also translate to savings if it allows you to qualify for the best interest rates on personal loans or other lines of credit.
Achieving perfect or near-perfect credit can take time. But there are some things you can do to boost your credit score faster.
1. Open a Secured Credit Card
If you have bad credit or you’re starting from scratch with building credit, a secured credit card can be a helpful tool.
Secured credit cards require a cash deposit to open, which typically doubles as your credit limit. You can use the card to make purchases just like you would an unsecured card.
When comparing secured cards, be sure to look at:
- How much is required for a security deposit
- The card’s annual percentage rate
- Whether you’ll pay an annual fee
- Any benefits the card may offer, such as a rewards program or free credit score access
Make payments to your secured card on time or early each month and keep your balance low.
2. Add Utilities and Other Payments to Your Credit Reports
Credit scoring models are increasingly including alternative data, such as cellphone and utility payments, to calculate scores. Services like Experian Boost allow you to add this data to your credit reports so it can be included in your score calculations.
Ask your landlord to report rent payments to the credit bureaus for an extra score boost.
3. Get a Small Personal Loan
Credit scores are based on how you manage different types of credit, including revolving debt and installment debt. Revolving debt means things like credit cards or store credit while installment debt can refer to things like personal loans.
Adding a personal loan into the mix could give your credit score a quick boost. The same rule for making payments on time applies to get the most credit score benefits.
Compare personal loan offers from different lenders to find the right loan at the best possible interest rate.
4. Automate All Bill Payments
Payment history carries the most weight for FICO credit scoring, which is the scoring model used by 90% of top lenders. Even one late payment could cost you big credit score points. Scheduling payments to credit cards and other bills in advance can help you put your credit boosting efforts on autopilot.
If you’re not comfortable automating bill payments, consider setting up bill payment reminders instead.
5. Consider a 0% Balance Transfer Card
If you have credit card debt with high interest rates, transferring the balances to a card with a 0% APR could save you money. But it could also boost your credit score.
Opening up a new card to transfer balances to while leaving your old card accounts open could help increase your credit utilization ratio. This is the ratio of how much of your available credit limit you’re using and after payment history, it’s the second-most important factor in credit scoring.
The key is making sure that you aren’t running up new debt on the cards that you transferred balances from. Doing so could hurt your score, rather than helping it.
Shop around for a 0% balance transfer card that charges no balance transfer fee.
6. Ask for Late Payment Forgiveness
As mentioned, late payments can be harmful to your credit score. But sometimes life happens and you end up missing a bill due date.
If that’s a one-time event for you, it may be worth reaching out to your creditor or biller to ask for late payment forgiveness. This can help you avoid a late payment being reported to the credit bureaus. And it could also help you sidestep a late payment fee.
Consider building credit with a credit card that doesn’t charge a fee the first time you pay late.
7. Double-Up on Credit Card Payments
Reducing your credit card balances can improve your credit utilization, which could boost your score. If you can’t afford to pay off all your debt at once, you could still make more of a dent by doubling up on your payments.
Instead of paying once a month, you could switch to biweekly payments instead. Even if you’re only doubling your regular minimum payment due each month, that could help you reduce your balance faster and save you money on interest at the same time.
Once you get your card balances paid off, aim to only charge what you can afford to pay in full each month.
Can You Boost Credit Scores Overnight?
Credit scores are typically updated on a monthly basis. So while you might be doing things that can improve your credit score instantly, you may not see the results until your scores are recalculated again. But putting these tips to work could help you raise your credit score by 100 points or more faster than you might think.