Your credit score is a quantifying measure that tells creditors and lenders how likely you are to responsibly handle money lent to you. While scores can fall anywhere between 300 and 850, the higher the score is, the better for your finances. A low score can financially handcuff you and take away your ability to buy a house, a car, or rent an apartment. But fear not! A low score can be remedied: there are several ways to improve your score and open the doors poor credit has slammed shut. Read on for four services that will make your credit score jump upward.
How Your Credit Score is Determined
Before you can take measures to improve your credit score, it’s important to understand exactly how your score is calculated. As reported in USA Today, five factors contribute to a credit score: whether or not you’ve paid your bills on time (35%); the amount you owe when compared to the amount of credit available (30%); the length of your credit history (15%); the variety of your accounts (10%); and new credit inquiries (10%). Focusing on the biggest contributing factors: paying your bills on time and the ratio of what you owe to the credit available to you, is the best way to see your credit score jump.
1) Find Out Your Score
The first step you must take in improving your credit score is learning what that score actually is. By federal law the three major credit reporting bureaus must give you a free copy every year, should you request one. But, you can also get a credit report from places that require no credit card to access, like Creditkarma.com.
2) Transfer Balances
A second service to help you improve your score involves transferring your balances. Transferring your balances means taking the debt you owe to one lender—say $500 of a $1000 credit limit—and transferring it to different accounts that will be reflected more favorably on your credit score. However, it’s important to remember that transferring the balances between lines of credit already available to you won’t help your score (though it may lower your interest rate). Instead, to improve your score, you must open a new line of credit.
Per the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, using more than 30% of your credit available can drastically lower your score. That’s why opening a new line of credit and transferring your balance can increase it. To use the example above, if you owe $500 of a $1000 limit, that will bring your score down. To transfer it, open another line of credit for the same amount, $1000, and then use it to pay off half of what you owe on the first line of credit, leaving you with two balances of $250, but a total of $2000 available to you. This is a much more favorable debt-to-credit ratio, and will improve your credit score. Credit card companies aren’t the only ones who offer new lines of credit. Opening a line of credit through a bank that offers debt consolidation loans is also an option.
3) Set Up Payment Reminders
A third way to dramatically improve your score is to make absolutely certain you pay all your bills on time. Remembering to do this can sometimes be tricky, particularly if you have multiple credit cards, loans and other bills each month, all due at different times. This is where payment reminders can help. You can typically sign up for these reminders from the loaning body in just a few clicks and have them delivered to your inbox a few days before your bill is due. You may also consider setting up automatic payments. This will allow the creditor to simply take what is owed to them from your bank account directly, eliminating the need to be reminded altogether.
4) Give it a Boost
A final way to improve your credit score is to ask for a little help. Companies like BoostCredit101 use tradelines to rent out credit to those who need to improve their credit score by several dozen points. The company adds your name to a tradeline (or more than one) and you inherit the benefit of that account, appearing as if you are the account’s owner. Just as if you were to open up a new line of credit, these tradelines lower your credit used to credit available ratio. This can improve your score quickly, and make a huge difference in your future financial abilities.