If you’re like most people, you probably think that your credit score is simply a number that banks used to decide whether to give you a loan. However, your credit score is much more important than that.
Your credit score is widely used by landlords, employers, insurers, and even utility companies to determine whether to do business with you. In other words, having a good credit score is essential to maintain a good standard of living. But what if you don’t have a good credit score? Is there anything you can do to improve it?
8 Credit Score Hacks To Help You Build A Better Score
As it turns out, there are plenty of things you can do to hack your credit score and improve your financial standing. Here are just a few:
Have A Good Credit Mix
One factor that impacts your credit score is the mix of different debts that you have. Credit scoring models favor consumers who have a healthy mix of revolving debt (like credit cards) and installment debt (like auto loans). This is because it shows that you can manage different debts responsibly.
If you only have revolving debt, pay down the balances on some of your high-balance cards first. Doing so will improve your credit utilization ratio, which we’ll discuss in hack #2. If you only have installment debt, consider taking out a small personal loan and using it the pays off high-interest debt like student loans or credit card balances. Just make sure you shop around for the best rates and terms before taking out any new loans.
Reduce Overall Credit Utilization
Credit utilization is another factor that impacts your credit score. It’s calculated by dividing your total outstanding debt by your total available credit. So, if you have $3,000 in outstanding debt and $10,000 in credit, your credit utilization ratio would be 30%.
Experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate below 30% for optimal scoring. If your ratio is higher than that, consider paying down some of your balances to reduce overall utilization. You could also consider asking for a higher limit on one or more of your credit cards.
Just remember that opening new lines of credit can temporarily lower your score, so make sure any benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks before proceeding.
Check Your Credit Reports Regularly
This is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a good credit score. You should check your credit report at least once a year to make sure that all the information contained is accurate. If you find any errors, dispute them immediately with the credit bureau.
You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—every year. Once you have your reports, comb through them carefully and look for any errors or inaccuracies. If you find any, be sure to dispute them with the bureau.
Make All Your Payments On Time
Another biggest factor that affects your credit score is your payment history. Therefore, it is crucial that you make all your payments on time, whether they are for your mortgage, car loan, credit card bills, or any other type of bill. This will show the credit card company that you’re responsible with credit and they’ll be more likely to raise your credit limit or offer you better terms in the future. If you have trouble remembering to make your payments on time, set up automatic payments so you will never have to worry about it again.
Keep Old Accounts Open
Closing old credit accounts may seem like a good idea, but it can hurt your credit score. This is because closing an account will lower your overall credit limit, which can increase your credit utilization ratio and negatively impact your score.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re using this hack, though. First, make sure you’re using the from time to time. If you have an old account that you never use, it could hurt your score because it will look like you’re not managing your credit well.
So, if you have an old credit card account that you don’t use often, try to make a small purchase on it now and then, just to keep it active. Second, don’t close any other accounts when you’re trying to Hack your score in this way. Closing other accounts will shorten your length of credit history, which could offset the benefit you’re getting from keeping the old account open. So, if you’re going to use this hack, just make sure you’re not canceling any other accounts at the same time.
Get A Secured Line Of Credit
This type of credit card requires you to put down a deposit, which serves as collateral in case you default on the card. Because the issuer has less risk, you’re more likely to be approved for a secured card than an unsecured card. You can use the credit line to make small purchases and then pay off the balance in full each month. This will help you build up a positive payment history and improve your credit score over time.
Credit monitoring services can help you stay on top of your credit score and report any changes or inaccuracies. This way, you can catch any mistakes or fraudulent activity quickly and dispute them before they do serious damage to your score.
Pay Down High-Balance Cards First
Another factor that goes into your credit scores is your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your available credit that you are using at any given time. For example, if your credit card has a limit of $5,000 and you have a balance of $2,500, then your credit utilization ratio is 50%. In general, it’s best to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%.
One way to improve your credit utilization ratio is to pay down the balances on your high-limit cards first. For example, if you have two cards with limits of $5,000 each and one has a balance of $2,500 while the other has a balance of $4,000, then paying down the balance on the second card will do more to improve your credit utilization ratio than paying down the balance on the first card.
Use Good Credit Card Debt Wisely
Having good credit card debt is important if you want to maintain a good credit score. Credit card companies report your payments to the credit bureaus, and late or missed payments can damage your credit score. However, using credit cards wisely can actually help to improve your credit score.
For example, paying off your balance in full each month shows lenders that you’re responsible with credit and capable of repaying your debts. Additionally, using a mix of different types of credit (e.g., revolving credit cards and installment loans) can also help to improve your score.
The key is to use credit wisely and make sure that you always make your payments on time. By following these simple tips, you can maintain a healthy credit score and access the best rates when you need to borrow money.
The best way to improve your credit score is through a combination of methods. You can use some or all of the hacks we’ve outlined in this post, but it will take time and patience to see real results. Stay diligent with your credit habits and you should start to see an improvement in your credit score over time. Have you tried any of these methods? Let us know how they worked for you in the comments below!