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Credit repair is a long process, but this article will give eight ways to speed it up.
How to check your credit report
First things first: a bad credit score doesn’t say anything about you as a person.
But your credit score does affect things like getting a new loan, so the higher it is the more benefits to you.
To check your credit use AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit reports.
You have three credit reports — one each from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each is a major credit bureau, or an institution that watches over your credit.
Because of COVID-19, you can check all three of your reports at AnnualCreditReport.com once a week through April 2021. After that, it’s once a year.
Then you’ll want to figure out your credit score, which doesn’t appear on your credit report.
What is a low credit score?
All three of the credit bureaus look at what’s on your credit report to come up with a numbered rating of your payment and borrowing history. This is your credit score, which ranges from 300 to 850.
A bad credit score depends on which credit bureau you’re looking at:
You can get your FICO credit score from MyFico.com, or from many credit card providers or banks.
Ways to raise your credit
A few small changes can increase your credit score. Use one or more of our tips below to get started.
Fix wrong info on your credit reports
Look for anything that’s not right when you check your credit reports. This could be a credit account that you didn’t open, a wrong address, or a hard credit check you didn’t agree to. Dispute anything that isn’t right directly with the credit bureau.
Make payments on time
On-time payments for things like loans and credit cards make up the majority of your credit score. A late payment can stay on your record for a few years, but not forever. Making sure you pay at least the minimum amount every month from here on out can provide a boost to your score.
Keep your credit card balances low
Another large part of your credit score depends on how much debt you have on your credit cards, or your credit utilization ratio. Try to get your balances as low as possible and as far from your upper credit limit as you can manage.
Pay off some debt
You don’t have to pay off every penny of debt to make a difference. Paying off a little at a time on your credit cards or loans can help raise your credit score slowly over time.
Don’t open several new accounts at once
Every time you apply for a new loan or credit card, the lender performs a hard credit check. Each of these credit checks will lower your score by a few points. Plus, taking out more than one loan at a time can make you look like a riskier customer.
Transfer debt to one credit card
Believe it or not, you can increase your credit score by moving all of your credit debt to a single card. It’s better to have $420 in debt on one card rather than $20 on one card and $400 on another.
Keep your old credit cards open
When you decide to stop using a credit card, it can be tempting to want to close the account to simplify your life — but hold that thought. Keeping it open can help with your credit history, which affects your credit score. More years of credit equals a higher credit score.
Use Experian Boost
Paying your utility and cell phone bills on-time can now count toward your credit score. Sign up for Experian Boost, a free service that takes your bill payment and adds it to your Experian credit report. The average user gets an instant 13-point increase in their credit score.
How long will it take?
In most cases, you’ll have to be patient to see an impact on your credit score. Aside from the immediate increase from Experian Boost, all the methods take a few weeks or months to make a difference. But keep at it and you’ll be celebrating a higher credit score soon enough.
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