A great credit score is desirable for all and achievable for anyone who is willing to work for it. As you know, a good credit doesn’t happen overnight, and damaged scores take time to repair.
First, what is a credit score exactly? Everyone has one, but they can be confusing to understand. A credit score is a number assigned to an individual based on their financial behavior. Financial institutions use this score to determine whether you’d be a good borrower. Scores range from 300 to 850. Very few people have a perfect score; however, anything in the mid to upper 700s is considered great. A high credit score opens up opportunities for you to borrow money and do business with lenders.
Here are a few ways to raise your credit score and improve your financial standing, regardless of where you stand right now.
- Check your credit report. You should start by checking your score and seeing where you’re at. Your initial score might surprise you. Late payments, using too much of your allowed amount and having too many lines of credit can all effect your credit score. If you have any negative dings on your credit, you’ll need to work to repair it. If your credit report contains false information, contact the financial institution involved and resolve it with them. The financial institution can work with you to straighten the problem out and increase your score.
- Pay down your debt. Without any debt at all, you’d never have a credit score. Your ability to pay back your borrowed money, or debt, is what generates your credit score. That being said, you don’t need to accrue a lot of debt to have a good score. In fact, quite the contrary. Improve your score by paying down your debt and keep your balance under 30% of the credit limit. If your score is low, slow your credit card spending for a while, pay down your debts, and watch your credit climb.
- Be on time, every time. One late payment affects your credit score negatively, so that’s the worst thing you can do as you’re trying to improve your credit. Pay early or on time every time and your score will slowly but surely climb.
- Stop opening new lines of credit. Despite popular opinion, having a lot of open lines of credit doesn’t give you a great credit score. It’s best to have a few lines of credit that you can manage responsibly, rather than multiple accounts that can get out of hand in a hurry.
- Most importantly, be patient. No matter what you do, your credit score won’t jump 100 points overnight, or even in a week. There is no instant gratification when building or repairing a credit score, but with slow, steady, and consistent efforts on your part, your score is sure to improve.