Your credit score measures your creditworthiness or the likelihood that you’ll pay back debts. It’s an essential gauge for lenders, landlords, potential insurance customers, etc. It’s also something that you can have a strong positive influence on. Doing so doesn’t just help you qualify for loans and credit cards. It can also help you secure lower rates and negotiate better terms when you do need to borrow money in the future. You need to take steps on several fronts to repair your credit score. We’ve outlined some of the best tips for improving your credit score in 2022, from paying off high-interest debt to going on credit monitoring and monitoring your score.
1. Always Pay Your Bills On Time
The best way to improve your credit score is to keep it clean. If you’re behind on bills, pay them as soon as possible. Try to be extra vigilant when there’s a holiday or other time when you might be tempted to let your bills slide. If you can’t pay your bills on time, consider using an installment loan or other form of debt consolidation. Set up automatic payments with the lender so that you don’t have the temptation of skipping a payment and risking a higher late fee or even a default charge. Paying your bills on time is an excellent way to maintain a good credit score; it also helps your score by reducing the number of inquiries you make. Always go for more information while maintaining your credit score.
2. Seek a Higher Credit Limit
Many people who have a low credit score are too worried about the potential negative impact on their credit score. They’re under the impression that if they pay off debt, their scores will go up, but that isn’t always the case. It’s not uncommon for a person with a low credit score to see no change in their scores after paying off their debt. If you want to increase your credit limits and qualify for better rates, you have to take steps to repair your credit. In addition, you should seek a higher line of credit, to begin with. That will help you qualify for the best interest rates.
3. Consolidate Your Credit Card Balances
A credit card balance is the sum of all the purchases you’ve made on that card since opening it. You might be tempted to pay off your balances every month with a low credit score. But this can cause your scores to decline because a high-interest rate is applied to your proportions. A better strategy is to pay off the minimum balance each month (if you can afford it), then pay 15% or less on any remaining balance. Paying the minimum balance keeps your balances low, and helps you build a credit history. And, since you’re not paying interest on balances, the only way your credit score will drop is if you miss payments or have too much debt that causes your credit utilization ratio (the percentage of available credit used) to reach 100%.
4. Limit Your Credit Utilization
Credit utilization is an essential factor in your credit score. If you have too much balance on your credit cards, it can reduce your score. Paying off high-interest debts can also hurt the score. Credit utilization is calculated by dividing your total balances by available credit. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit cardholder has a utilization rate of 15 percent when they carry at least one balance with them, and 10 percent if they only take one balance. Also, if you’re a student and use credit cards to pay for school expenses, your utilization rate is likely to be lower. However, if you plan to take out a loan for school, it’s better to keep your credit utilization low.
5. Refrain from Applying for New Credit
There are two main reasons you should avoid applying for new credit while working to repair your credit score. First, unused credit can drag down your credit score. It can cause a rise in your average credit utilization percentage and the amount of debt you have. Second, if you already have a lot of available credit, then applying for new credit could cause you to go into default. Defaulting on debts can damage your score and make it difficult to qualify for other loans and lines of credit in the future.
6. Fix Your Credit Reports
Credit reports are a snapshot of your credit history, including information about your financial behavior. In the modern age of social media and internet banking, it’s easy to get a sense of how you’re doing in the eyes of credit bureaus and lenders. Unfortunately, that information can be wrong or interpreted in misleading ways by companies that compile your report. The best way to fix this is to request that all three major bureaus update your file with accurate information. That means requesting an updated copy of each report from the major bureaus. Your requests should be made at least once every 12 months, ideally once every six months.
7. Pay Off Your Debts
Paying off your debts quickly is a great way to repair your credit. Paying off high-interest credit cards and loans is often the best way to do so, as it has the most impact on your credit score. While you can pay off large balances with one payment, it’s better to pay more than you have to. You’ll likely be more tempted to spend more than you should when you’re in debt. Having a balance on your credit card that costs $5,000 can significantly impact your score than having a $10,000 balance on an account that charges only 12 percent interest. Also, you will be paying off more than you should, which could also negatively affect your credit score.
Don’t let your credit score drop to the point where you can’t qualify for loans. The best way to do this is to ask for help. Call a credit counselor and ask them to work with you on getting your score up. If you have a large amount of debt, you may need to contact a debt consolidation company to help you clear your debts and get your score up. If that’s not an option, know what steps you should take to fix your credit score.