Getting approved for your first auto loan, applying for a mortgage and opening up new credit cards all have one thing in common—you need a good credit score to qualify. Establishing a good credit score isn’t complex, but it takes some work. And once you’ve earned your way up, you’ll be rewarded with low interest rates, premium credit cards and more. A low credit score is repairable, and we’re here to share a few quick tips on how to do it.
Never Miss a Payment
Establishing a good credit score starts with showing that you are financially responsible. Your payment history is the most influential factor for determining your credit score, and even the occasional late payment can negatively impact your score in the long run. If you tend to have forgetful habits, then there are a few things you can do to make sure your payments go through on time for a boost in your credit score.
Bill pay—it’s as simple as that. With varying due dates, it can be tough to keep track of all of them. Eliminate the stress of managing your bill payments by setting up automatic bill payments, whether it’s for the minimum amount due or if you choose to pay in full.
Luckily, most major utility providers will let you set up autopay, allowing you to routinely withdraw your bills every month through your checking, savings or credit card. And if your bills include student loans, then you could be eligible for discounts on your interest rate if you set up autopay.
An alternative to bill pay is setting up payment reminders. Banks and credit card issuers give the option to schedule reminders through email or push notifications, so you can make payments on your terms. But you don’t have to rely on your bank for reminders, digital calendars like Google or Apple allow you to similarly set up calendar invites or monthly reminders so that you never miss a due date.
The sooner you start being proactive about your due dates, the sooner you’ll see your credit score go up. Small changes can make a big difference, and all it takes is 10 minutes out of your day to set it up.
Limit Your Open Accounts
That new credit card with a great reward system may look tempting but be careful with how often you apply for a new line of credit, as every application is recorded on your credit report. A hard credit inquiry like this will remain on your credit report for 24 months and impacts your score for the first 12.
A good way to avoid a negative impact on your credit score is to do some research beforehand and ensure you’re a good candidate for the card. Choose your cards wisely and avoid applying for too many cards within a short amount of time, especially before taking out a large loan like for a car or mortgage. Taking the risk of getting denied can take a hard hit to your credit score, making it even harder to recover.
Consolidate Cards for Fewer Balances
Credit scores are carefully calculated, and it takes strategy and responsibility to build and maintain a respectable figure. While you should be aiming for a small, manageable balance, it doesn’t mean you should spread a large balance thin across multiple cards. In fact, this approach is a red flag altogether.
Your credit score considers the number of cards you have open and how often you’re using them. By eliminating the number of cards you charge, the higher you’re credit score will become. Start paying off your smaller balances or consider consolidating monthly payments onto one card with a transfer card.
Dispute Credit Card Issues
According to a study by The Federal Trade Commission, 26% of participants found at least one error on their credit reports that could make them appear riskier to lenders. It’s not uncommon to find mistakes, whether someone applied for a credit card under your name or if you even have an ex-spouse’s information remains on your report. Be sure to report any errors and have supporting evidence to dispute the mistake either online or by phone.
Recovering from a poor credit score is possible but a perfect score doesn’t come overnight. The process takes time, and the further along you get on your journey, the more financial opportunities will come your way. And once you’ve reached your goal, it’s important to maintain it with good long-term credit habits. There’s plenty of tips, tricks and healthy financial habits to help your credit score succeed, but above all, consistency is key.