Do you have a crummy credit score?
If so, you’re not alone. According to MarketWatch, 45% of young adults (millennials, in particular) have poor credit scores.
The good news is you can always improve your credit score. Although these strategies won’t give you a score of 800 overnight, by being consistent and persistent in employing them, you can expect to see a steady rise in your score in the weeks and months ahead.
Pay Your Bills On Time
Even one missed payment, and especially payments that go unpaid for over 30, 60, or 90 days, can mess up your credit score. This is true even if it was an accident that caused you to miss a payment.
For this reason, make sure you have a great budgeting and bill payment system set up. We recommend using our free MoneyMap tool to keep track of your budget, and spending. If you can, put your bills on auto pay, so that you don’t have to worry about paying them manually every month.
LEARN MORE: Keep Track Of Your Money With MoneyMap
Furthermore, remember that not all payments “matter” to your credit. That is, your credit score doesn’t track certain payments — or at least they’re not as important. What do we mean?
Credit card payments are more important than paying your monthly Spotify bill, for example. This means that if you come up short at the end of the month, you should put more money toward your credit card payments and loan payments and worry less about paying for streaming services like Spotify, Amazon Prime, and Netflix.
Don't Apply For New Credit Unless It's Necessary
Applying for new lines of credit — whether you’re approved in the end or not — can hurt your credit score. Unless it’s absolutely necessary to get a new credit card or you know that getting a new line of credit can help you reduce other debt with a high interest rate, don’t do it.
Improve Your Credit Score With A Plan That Works For You
Pay Down Debt
This probably goes without saying, but one of the biggest factors in determining your credit score is your debt to limit ratio or revolving utilization. As a general rule, you don’t want to be using up more than approximately 30% of all credit available to you. If you can do this, it shows that you can be responsible with credit, and you won’t use it up completely without paying it down when you should.
It’s recommended to pay off high-interest debt first, like store and retail credit cards. If you’re able to pay more than the minimum payment on high-interest debt you’ll be better off in the long run because it will cost you less money to pay off that debt.
Don't Be Afraid To Dispute Errors On Your Credit Report
If you have bad credit, make sure you know why. Perhaps it’s because your revolving utilization is too high. Or perhaps it’s because you missed a credit card payment for more than 60 days a couple of years ago.
Whatever the reason, make sure you know what it is. Don’t just accept a bad credit score because sometimes, you have that score in error.
In most cases, you need to view your credit report to determine what is causing your poor credit. Anyone can view their credit report for free once per year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you see something on your credit report that looks like an error, don’t let it go. This could be holding you back financially for years to come, so make sure to contact the credit reporting company (either Trans Union, Experian, Equifax). Or, you can directly contact the lender or creditor to dispute the item.
Have Questions About Your Credit Score?
Looking for additional ways to boost your credit score? We can help. No matter your credit score or financial history, we’re here to help you achieve and maintain a strong financial position and put you on the path to financial success. Give us a call today at 800.442.2800 or schedule an appointment today at any local member center.
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