Money Smarts Blog
How To Improve Your Credit Score By 100 Points With These 5 Steps
Feb 8, 2019 | Sarah-Beth Floyd
New year, new credit score! We’ve decided to hit the ground running to get your credit in tip top shape by the end of the year. Why not dive in with a 100-point increase? Check out the 5 steps below to see how to take that 600-credit score to 700 with ease.
1. Know what you’re working with
Before you make any decisions to improve your credit, check to see what your current score is. The steps you’ll take will be different depending on if you have low, medium or high credit.
Luckily, you can find all your credit information in one place, your “credit report”. This report will break your score down into the following areas:
- Payment history: 35%
- Total amounts owed: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Type of credit in use: 10%
Everything you need to know about your credit will be in this report and some even give suggestions on steps to improve your credit.
The best tools we’ve found are the Mint app or CreditKarma.com. These options are free and give you background knowledge on how your score was created. Of course, if you need additional assistance, the IHMVCU Financial Center is there to help!
2. Pay off past due balances/keep up with payments
Payment history makes up a whopping 35 percent of your overall credit score. 35 percent! That’s a huge number just for making your payments on time.
And it’s more than just credit card payments. It also includes retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts and mortgage loans. So every time you’re paying your home loan on time, you’re actually improving your credit score! Make this a habit with every line of credit/loan you have, and your score will improve in no time.
3. Don’t open or close too many accounts
One piece of your credit score that owns a smaller portion is the length of your credit history. This is only 15 percent of your overall score but can also do a lot of damage. Opening or closing too many accounts in a short amount of time can seriously hurt your score.
However, it also has the potential to greatly benefit you. Try to wait at least six months between applying for credit cards or loans (including refinancing) and you’ll see an improvement. This shows creditors that you don’t need credit/loans and are more likely to be financially stable.
It sound silly, but when you open/close too many accounts around the same time, it doesn’t make a good impression on creditors. Meaning, if you apply for a Walmart credit card on Monday and then a Target credit card on Wednesday (of the same week), creditors might see you as unreliable or unstable. In order to keep that score high and make the bank trust you, give it some time between applications.
4. Keep your debt low
Just because your credit limit is $2,000, it doesn’t mean you need to spend the entire $2,000 in one trip (oops). Even using half of your $2,000 limit isn’t good. So using the whole thing? BIG YIKES.
You can thank credit utilization ratio for limiting your shopping spree. According to this ratio, you should only use about 30 percent for each line of credit. So, of that $2,000, it’s best to only have $600 on the card at one time. If you go over that you may see a dip in your score, BUT your on-time payments will help give it a boost.
Now, don’t take this as us saying it’s bad to have credit cards because it’s not! If you use your credit responsibly, having credit cards is a great thing.
5. Utilize tools like Experian Boost
Typically, your credit report will be made up of items like credit cards and loans. That’s why using a resource like Experian Boost is such a game changer. With this tool you can add re-occurring payments like utility bills, cell phone bills, etc. to your credit history and start earning credit on these purchases.
What’s even more exciting, is that you don’t have to start over with your payment history. Once the bill is uploaded into the program, it automatically syncs your payment history with that company.
Is it doable?
According to Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian, increasing your score by 100 points is definitely doable! However, how much your score increases is dependent on what your score currently is. For example, someone starting with a lower score is more likely to see a bigger impact than someone who has a higher score to start. Regardless of where you start, everyone can enjoy a great credit score by following the steps above. If you need help getting started, call or swing by our new Financial Center.