Credit scores are a critical factor of financial health. While one mistake can cause your score to take a considerable dip, sometimes, seeing your score spike takes time. Your credit score has many factors, one of which is the length or age of your credit history. If you are looking to help raise your credit score, you’ll want to review the following guide to help:
What makes up your credit score?
First, it’s important to understand the factors that go into your score and who decides on it. Let’s take a closer look at where your credit score comes from.
Your credit score is a report of how you’ve used credit. It lets companies like lenders and credit card issuers predict how much risk they would be taking if they loaned you money. Your credit report shows if you’ve ever missed payments, the types of loans you’ve taken out and if you have filed for bankruptcy in the past.
The three major credit reporting bureaus are Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These companies collect, store, and organize the data on your credit reports. Then they each issue you a credit score from the information contained in your report. Credit scores are important because they allow creditors to see a snapshot of your credit history without spending time reading your report.
- Your payment history (35%): Your payment history is a record of how often you pay your bills on time. Missed or late payments affect your score negatively, while on-time payments result in a higher credit score.
- Your credit utilization (30%): Your credit utilization is the percentage of the total available credit you use every month.
- Length of your credit history (15%): Typically, creditors trust borrowers who have a long history of managing their credit. Keeping your accounts open longer could help raise your score.
- Your credit mix (10%): Most creditors like to see that you have experience managing a few different types of credit. Diversifying your credit types could help raise your score.
- New credit inquiries (10%): Borrowing a ton of money at once could be a red flag for some lenders.
Five levels of credit scores
Now that you know what goes into your score, let’s take a look at what lenders consider a good score and a bad or poor score. The FICO scoring ranges are as follows:
- Very poor: 300-579 points. Obtaining a credit card or loan with very poor credit is more challenging.
- Fair: 580-669 points. Lenders consider borrowers with a “fair” score to be higher risk.
- Good: 670-739 points. You’re a much more appealing candidate for loans and credit cards if you have a credit score in this range.
- Very good: 740-799 points. This range is typically considered above average.
- Exceptional: 800-850 points. At times, lenders may see people with exceptional credit scores as very dependable borrowers.
The maximum credit score that you can have is 850. However, also keep in mind you might not need a perfect score to achieve your financial goals. In fact, in 2022 the average credit score was 714 according to Experian, so don’t feel too much pressure if you are not in the 800 club.
Why is my score different on different credit bureaus?
Each bureau assesses your payment history, credit utilization, credit history, credit mix, and inquiries at a different weight, resulting in a slight deviation in score from each company. You might notice a variation depending on when you look too. Each credit bureau could be on a different rotation when receiving your credit updates. For example, Experian could be updated in 7 days, and TransUnion could be updated in 15 days. All three scores could be different and not in sync, depending on when you look. Lenders also have the choice to report to their preferred credit bureau(s), which can positively or negatively affect your credit score.
How long does it take to build credit?
Building credit takes time; essentially, it is a lifelong process. The amount of time it’ll take to see your score rise depends on what types of items are on your credit report, your current score, how long you’ve had your accounts, and what steps you’re taking to raise your credit.
Your credit score will take at least thirty days to change because credit reporting bureaus usually only collect payment data once a month. However, it’ll take much longer to reach your goal if you’re trying to raise your score by 200 points. Patience is key here! It may take anywhere from six months to a few years to help raise your score by 200 points depending on your financial habits. As long as you stick to your credit-rebuilding plan and stay patient, you’ll be able to help increase your credit score before you know it.
Increase your credit score by 200 points Over Time
Are you ready to start improving your credit score? Use these tips to help your credit score rise month after month.
1. Use multiple types of credit
Using your credit card and paying it off every month is an excellent way to help boost your score. However, creditors want to see that you have experience managing multiple types of credit.
A credit card is considered a revolving type of credit. Revolving credit “refills” after you pay it down and allows you to use it again and again. As for non-revolving credit lines, you can only use those once. As soon as you pay off a non-revolving account, your lender closes your account. Personal loans, mortgage loans, and student loans are all examples of non-revolving credit types.
2. Get a credit builder loan
Consider a credit builder loan if you want to add a little diversity to your credit portfolio and use a method proven to help build credit. Credit builder loans are small, low-interest loans that can help you improve your score.
With some loan providers, you’ll get a sum in cash and can spend that money on almost anything, from home updates to catching up on bills. Then, you pay back the loan and interest with monthly payments. Your loan provider reports the payments to the credit reporting bureau. As long as you don’t fall behind, on time payments can help build your credit score.
3. Report bills to the credit bureaus
Did you know you can boost your credit with all types of payments? Not all bills are automatically reported to credit bureaus. Get in touch with each of your providers to double check.
4. Use a finance tracking service
Using a financial tracking service can help you stay on top of your finances. From banking to debt to credit scores, financial tracking services can make it easy to get a comprehensive overview in one place. Make sure to explore and research various finance tracking services before settling on a single pick.
5. Make consistent payments
Your payment history makes up about 35% of your FICO credit score. This means that one of the best ways to improve your score is to build up a history of positive payments.
Missing payments can lower your score, so prioritize your payments with a new organization strategy. Sit down with all your loan and credit card statements and write down how much you owe on each account, your minimum payments, and your due dates.
Then, input the dates into your cell phone calendar or write them down on your desk calendar. You may also want to authorize autopay if your creditor allows it. Autopay automatically deducts your minimum payment on your account’s due date so you won’t have to remember it on your own.
6. Keep your utilization low
On top of keeping your payments low, you should also be mindful of keeping your credit utilization low. Credit utilization refers to how much of your available credit you use. Maxing out your credit cards could lower your score. A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization below 30%. If it’s possible, make it a goal to keep it around 10%.
If this isn’t possible, consider asking your lender for a credit line increase. Increasing your total available credit automatically lowers your utilization rates. Be careful to avoid the “lifestyle creep” of overspending if you do get a credit line increase.
Improvements take time
Now that you understand the basics of credit, you can see that building it isn’t hard; it just takes time. Whether it is 200 points or 20, you won’t see results overnight while working to improve your credit score. Always pay your bills on time, keep your credit mixed and your utilization low, and be patient. Think of improving your score the same way as losing weight. You won’t lose ten pounds after a single day or even a week of eating right and exercising. Your credit score works the same way; it takes a pattern of positive habits to see results. While building your credit, remember that having an above-average score could help you get better rates on credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and more.
How long will it take to raise my credit score?
Seeing your score raise can depend on when the credit bureaus update their records, how much debt you have, and your past payment history. The sooner you implement smart credit practices, the better of a position you’ll be to improve your score over time.
What are the biggest factors to improve my score?
Your payment history accounts for the largest percentage of your credit score. Making payments on time helps improve your credit score.
Why is my score different on different credit bureaus?
Each credit bureau uses a slightly different scoring system to determine your score and each updates their numbers at different times. These two factors can cause you to have different credit scores.