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If you’re hoping to apply for a loan soon to buy a home or get a car, you probably want to raise your credit score.
Your credit score can either help or hurt you when it comes to borrowing money and the interest rate you’ll pay.
It will take time to raise your score significantly, however, there are several steps you can take to increase your score over the next 30 days.
First, if you haven’t read my post covering the basics of credit scores, I suggest you read that first.
It’s important to understand your credit score in general, as this will allow you to continue to improve it.
How to raise your credit score in the next 30 days.
- Prioritize paying off credit card debt
One of the largest impacts to your credit score is your credit utilization rate. Pay off as much of your credit card debt as you can afford and do it BEFORE the statement date.
It’s important to make the payment before the statement date, otherwise it will take another month to reflect on your credit.
You can see how much your score may increase by using Credit Karma’s score simulator.
From my experience this has made the largest change in my score.
By paying off about $1,000 in December 2019, my credit score increased by 23 points by early January 2020. Then paying off an additional $3,000 of credit card debt in January, raised my score an additional 34 points by February 2020.
If you don’t have any cash to do that, get creative!
Find some odd jobs to do, have a garage sale, post things you don’t want/need on eBay, Poshmark, Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, etc., start food delivery, fill out tons of surveys online, and so on.
- Request a credit limit increase
This will also affect your utilization rate. Request a credit limit increase through your bank and if you get approved you should see your utilization rate decrease on your next score update.
Again this is best to do before your statement date.
By increasing your limit, you automatically lower your utilization rate without even having to pay extra debt. The important thing is to NOT use that increase though, otherwise your score will drop again.
- Have utility bills and rent reported
Your rent and utility bills typically are not reflected in your score, but there are tools that allow you to do so.
If you have made all of your payments on time it may be worth it.
To report your rent, speak with your landlord or use a service such as Rental Kharma. There is usually a fee associated, but it’s up to you to decide if that is worth it.
Depending on your current score and the bills you pay, reporting that information may not increase your score.
To prevent your score from dropping
- Keep $0 balance cards in good standing
If your credit cards are paid off, be sure to charge a small purchase to them every month or two. Inactivity can cause the company to close your account without warning.
If your account closes that may decrease your average credit history, therefore lowering your score.
- Don’t do anything “new”
If you’re hoping to buy a car or home soon, I suggest avoiding any spontaneous purchases or financial decisions.
Don’t open any other accounts, don’t lease a car, don’t close an account, etc. Unless it will help your credit (paying off debt), it’s best to wait.
- Stay on top of payments
This is obvious but it’s important. Never miss a payment. Late payments will affect your credit score the most and stay on your account the longest too.
Do whatever you need to do in order to prevent late payments. Decrease spending, increase your income, set up auto payments, etc.
- Check your credit report
It’s rare but sometimes there can be mistakes on your credit report. Check your credit regularly but also in detail at least once a year. If there are any mistakes you can dispute them and get them cleared.
If you have a late payment
There may not be much that you can do if you have a late payment (or payments), but it’s worth a shot.
First of all, you’ll need to be sure you don’t make a habit of late payments.
- Sell the things you can’t afford
- Increase your income
- Spend less money
- Control your impulse purchases
- Set up automatic payments/set reminders
If you’ve only made one late payment you’re in better luck.
Call the lender and communicate with them (respectfully!). Explain to them the situation, be honest, tell them you’re working on improving your finances, etc. Ask them if they could remove the late payment from your account if you set up automatic payments.
They may not allow for it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Also ask if there is any option for you to get it removed.
If any agreement is made, be sure to get it in writing.
If nothing can be done, accept that. Take responsibility for your actions and realize that you can work on improving from now on.
If an account is in collections
If you have a debt in collections you’ll probably have a harder time raising your score quickly, but there are some things you can try.
Again, call the lender and communicate respectfully.
From my understanding, paying a collection does not typically help your score.
You still want to pay it of course, but try negotiating a “pay for delete.” Basically, you offer to pay the collection total in full or in cash (by saving up as much as possible) in exchange for a “pay for delete” in writing.
The chance of that succeeding is rare.
If that doesn’t work you still have the option to set up a payment plan, pay it all off, or negotiate a settlement for less than you owe.
Again, any agreements should be in writing, otherwise it never happened.
There is only so much you can do to raise your score quickly.
It takes time, patience, and responsible financial actions.
If you find anything that offers an instant credit boost or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
*This article was originally published on LivinglikeLeila.com