Studies show that 80% of your life’s biggest decisions will involve credit. Raising your credit score as high as possible will save you and your family a lot of hard-earned cash, and unlock incredible opportunities like buying your dream house (or car).
Here at Credit Glory we’ve been helping people fix their credit and improve their scores for 20 years. The following information is exactly what we’ve told tens of thousands of clients over the years, helping them close on new homes, buy new cars, and live the lifestyle they’ve worked hard to achieve.
So, you want the good news or the bad news?
Good news? (I'm a good-news-first kind of person too!)
The good news is, there's only good news! If you’re serious about this, have patience, and follow this guide, you will succeed. It’s only a matter of time.
Real quick, before we get to the "secret sauce", a little insider information about credit scores.
While most scores look the same (a 3 digit number between 350 to 800), they’re not all created equal. Just how two teachers might grade the same paper differently, two credit scoring systems (“algorithms” for the geeks among us) might score the same credit report differently.
For example, the difference between your FICO score and your VantageScore on the exact same credit report can be up to 100 points off.
Fortunately, you really only need to be familiar with one type of score.
FICO is the most popular credit scoring system by far, used by over 90% of lenders. If you have your FICO score, you can feel pretty confident knowing what to expect next time you walk into the bank or dealership. On the other hand, Credit Karma and most other free online score websites use non-FICO scores, like VantageScore. They’re not very accurate at all. In fact, they downright suck. We recommend you ignore them.
With that mess out of the way, let’s get this show on the road!
How To Improve Your Credit Score Step-by-Step (2020 Ultimate Guide)
Before you can begin increasing your score, you need to know what’s hurting it in the first place.
You have a credit report with three different companies (referred to as the major Bureaus or Credit Reporting Agencies)--Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion--and you’ll need a copy from each.
The quickest way to get them all is to pay $1 through IdentityIQ. This website merges all 3 into one report for easy reading. (Keep in mind that the information won’t always match across all three reports, and that’s OK.)
With your credit reports ready, let’s start improving those scores.
1. Dispute negative accounts
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to dispute negative information on your credit report to ensure accuracy, completeness, validity, and timeliness of accounts.
Wondering what your chances of having a negative account deleted are?
According to studies done, 79% of credit reports contain mistakes or serious errors.
That’s a lot!
Having a single negative account deleted due to a mistake or serious error could result in up to a 150 point score boost.
Not disputing negative information on your credit report is always a mistake.
While you could do the disputing yourself, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to properly study the FCRA and FDCPA. Without the necessary knowledge to craft good challenges, your disputes may not work.
This is why many people turn to professionals (like us here at Credit Glory) to handle disputing for them. It’s not necessarily something you want to do yourself.
2. Have at least two revolving accounts
Revolving accounts are your credit cards and secured cards.
Having revolving accounts is a major component of your credit mix (10% of your score) and your revolving age of accounts (30% of your score).
In our 20 years of experience working with people building new credit, two is the sweet spot. Start there.
While opening new cards won’t have an immediate impact on your score, most people see a solid increase around the 12 month mark. This increase will continue slowly over time as the cards age.
If the reason you have no credit cards is due to having bad credit, you can open secured cards that will provide the same benefits without needing a good score to get approved.
3. Pay your bills on time
Your payment history is responsible for 35% of your score. If you want to learn how to raise your credit score, you have to begin by paying your bills on time.
But building positive payment history won’t always happen simply because you have open accounts. In the case of a credit card, you have to actively use and pay it off after the closing statement, when payment is due. If you pay too early, you won’t get credit.
If you have late payments, it’s not the end of the world. While they do report to your credit for seven years, they don’t affect your score that long.
For example, a single 30 day late can hurt your score up to a year, a 60 day late payment can hurt your score up to three years, and a 90+ day late can drop your score up to seven years (accounts that are late over 180 days are typically “charged off” and sold to collections).
4. Keep your revolving balances low
Lowering your revolving balances, or credit utilization, is one of the quickest ways you can improve your credit score.
Common knowledge says to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. We suggest keeping it below 10% for the largest increase in score. (You can find your credit utilization ratio by dividing your total credit card debt by your total credit card limits.)
If you regularly get near the limit of your credit cards, you may be hurting your score even if you’re paying the full balance on time. This is because your high balances are being reported before you pay them off. The solution is to pay off most of the balance before the closing statement so your balances report low, leaving just enough to be due after the closing statement so you get credit for an on-time payment too.
5. Don't open new credit cards if you can help it
Each new credit card you open lowers the age of your revolving accounts (also known as the Average Age Of Accounts). This is the most important factor in your credit history’s length, making up 15% of your credit score.
For example, imagine that you have a single 10 year old credit card. Your revolving average age of accounts would be 10 years. If you opened a new card, you’d cut that in half. (You can find your average age of revolving accounts by dividing the total age of all credit cards by the amount of cards.)
Going from 10 years down to 5 years might not make a big difference, but going from 5 years down to 1 would (in the case of opening many new cards at once). For this reason, we recommend only opening one new card at a time, and only when necessary (if you have no cards at all, opening two to start is fine as we mentioned above).
6. Keep your unused credit cards open
As we discussed above, your revolving average age of accounts is incredibly important. Closing old credit cards can cause a large drop in your credit score due to the impact it will have on your credit history length.
If you have no interest in using an older card any longer, put a stick of gum on it every few months to keep the account open. Whatever you do, don’t close it!
7. Don't apply for new credit too often
Each time a lender pulls your report to check if you qualify for new credit, a new hard inquiry gets added.
Each hard inquiry lowers your score from 1 to 10 points, eventually falling off after two years.
Six inquiries in a single month can quickly cripple your score. Some lenders will even deny you for having too many inquiries regardless of how good your score is!
8. Get added as an authorized user
Being an authorized user means you have someone else’s credit card on your credit report.
Having a friend or family member add you as an authorized user on one (or more) of their old credit cards is one of the fastest ways to build new credit--or raise an already good score--to new highs by increasing your average age of accounts and lowering your utilization ratio.
In fact, being added as an authorized user is the only way to quickly increase your length of credit history.
Time to take action
Remember, you’re here because you have a problem (what happens when you ignore problems?)
We’ve provided you the knowledge to fix the problem (or find someone who can fix it for you). Take action! The energy you spend improving your credit score will pay off for years--possibly decades--to come. Start, today.
Get Your Credit Score Improved Professionally
In some cases, we recommend speaking with a Credit Repair professional to analyze your credit report. It's so much less stress, hassle, and time to let professionals identify the reasons for your score drop.
If you're looking for a reputable company to increase your credit score, we recommend Credit Glory. Call them on (800-807-4388) or setup a consultation with them. They also happen to have incredible customer service.
Credit Glory is a credit repair company that helps everyday Americans remove inaccurate, incomplete, unverifiable, unauthorized, or fraudulent negative items from their credit report. Their primary goal is empowering consumers with the opportunity and knowledge to reach their financial dreams in 2020 and beyond.