You cannot raise your score 100 points overnight, however, you can make moves to improve your credit score. The average American credit score is 711, and that number is trending up. Do you know yours? Most people want to raise their score, and it’s possible to move it in the right direction. We’ll demystify how your credit score is calculated and give you some strategies to begin raising your credit score.
How is your credit score calculated?
Before you take any actions to raise your credit score, it’s vital to know how this three-digit number is calculated. Approximately 90% of lenders and creditors use FICO scores to make credit decisions. Your FICO score is derived from the information in your credit reports.
Here’s the formula:
- Payment history (35%): Creditors want to know that you pay your bills on time. A negative mark is added to your credit profile once an account reaches 30 or more days past due and then it remains on your report for 7 years. So most advice you get will be to pay your bills on time and manage your credit.
- Amounts owed (30%): This calculation is the percentage of credit you use across all your revolving accounts. Try to keep this figure at 30% or below.
- Length of credit history (15%): Consumers with longer credit histories are viewed more favorably in creditors’ eyes.
- Credit mix (10%): It’s ideal to have a mix of credit cards, loans, and other forms of credit. Creditors want to know that you have experience managing a variety of credit.
- Credit inquiries (10%): A hard inquiry is generated each time you apply for credit. The fewer inquiries, the better, as too many in a short period could indicate financial distress to lenders and creditors. Plus, your credit score could take a slight hit when a hard inquiry is pulled when you apply for credit.
Access your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Analyze the data to get an idea of which areas are dragging your credit rating down. Monitoring your credit, and understanding where you are starting is the first step to start growing credit.
8 tips to boost and manage your credit score
We’ve rounded up credit tips to help improve your credit score.
1. Dispute errors
You should file disputes as soon as possible so that incorrect and untimely information can be removed from your credit report. That way, your credit score will be an accurate reflection of your credit history. It’s also possible that your score will increase by getting this information removed.
When you file disputes, the credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — have up to 30 days to investigate and reach a decision. If the lender or creditor responds right away and the credit bureaus rule in your favor, you could see an adjustment to your score. But if it takes the lender or creditor a bit to respond, it could be a month or more before your credit score updates.
2. Monitor your progress
MoneyLion makes it easy to keep tabs on your progress with weekly credit score updates. You’ll get access to the Credit Score monitoring tool and receive alerts on activity in your credit file when you join Credit Builder Plus.
You will gain access to information about your payment history, age of credit, credit utilization, credit inquiries, and account balances. You can also view your credit score history over time directly from your dashboard on the mobile app. Join Credit Builder Plus today.
3. Get current on delinquent accounts
Will paying off a loan improve credit? Don’t allow past due accounts to keep dragging your score down. Pay off outstanding loans so the lenders and creditors stop reporting past due payments to your credit report each month.
If the past due amount is too large, reach out to a customer support team member at the lending institution and request a payment arrangement. You may also qualify for a hardship program that will allow you to get back on track without doing more damage to your credit score.
4. Pay your bills on time
The key to help improve your credit score is paying your bills on time. Since payment history makes up the most significant percentage of your credit score, it’s a good idea that you make timely payments on debts each month. If the current payment due dates don’t quite work for you, ask to have them changed.
You should also contact your lender at the first sign of financial difficulty to work out an arrangement. This could prevent adverse reporting moving forward.
Maybe money’s not the issue, and you struggle to keep up with the due dates. Consider putting your debt obligations on auto-pay.
5. Keep your balances low
Credit utilization is the percentage of credit that you are using. The sweet spot for credit utilization for credit scoring purposes is 30% or lower. Try to pay down the outstanding balances on your revolving accounts to this percentage.
If 30% is a stretch, try to pay as much as you can. You can also consider requesting a credit limit increase to reduce this percentage without forking over a wad of cash.
But here’s the catch — you must be disciplined enough not to use the increased limit. Also, know that some credit card issuers perform a credit check to determine if you’re eligible for an increase, which could lower your score by a few points.
6. Don’t close old accounts
Tired of holding on to credit cards you don’t use? Before you close the account, it’s crucial to understand how they impact your credit score.
If the cards reflect a zero balance, they’re helping your credit utilization ratio, and closing them could hurt your credit score. So, it’s best to leave them alone until you’re able to pay down your other outstanding credit card debts or you could delay progress toward reaching your goal of raising your score by 100 or more points.
7. Become an authorized user on someone’s credit card
If you don’t have your own credit card but someone you trust does, they can add you as an authorized user to their credit card. It is important that this person has good credit and is responsible with their credit. Being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card could help improve your credit score if they are making their payments on time, otherwise it could also negatively impact your credit. If you aren’t responsible with your payments, that could negatively affect the original card holder’s score, too.
8. Get a Credit Builder loan
Credit builder loans are designed to help people with no or bad credit. You’ll make payments, earn interest, and once the term of the loan ends, you’ll have access to all the funds. Your payment history will be reported to the credit bureaus. If you make your payments on time, that can help improve your credit score. At MoneyLion, we offer Credit Builder Plus to help you build or improve your credit. If you become a Credit Builder Plus member, you will unlock all of this for $19.99/month:
- Credit Builder loan up to $1,000 with a competitive APR
- Credit reporting to all three credit bureaus to help build your positive payment history
- Credit monitoring and weekly updates on your credit score and credit factors
- 0% APR Instacash cash advances up to $300.
More than half of Credit Builder members raise their credit score by 42+ points in 60 days.1
Join Moneylion and access a powerful credit building program
Our Credit Builder Plus Membership is a great tool for growing your credit score by helping you to build credit while you save. Our Credit Builder loan doesn’t require a hard credit check, and you get access to a portion of your loan funds right away. Join MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus program today.
Does paying off a credit card help credit score?
Yes it can! It helps to show the credit bureaus that you are reliable with your credit.
Is a 499 credit score bad?
A credit score of 499 is considered below average. Check out MoneyLion’s Credit Builder Plus Membership to access our program that builds credit.