10 Things You Can Do Now to Fix Your Credit
Living with a bad credit score affects several aspects of your life. Creditors won't give you the best interest rates, may deny your loan requests or refuse to let you rent an apartment. Figuring out how to fix credit in 30 days isn't always possible, but there are a few steps you can take to improve your credit now and over time.
Review Your Credit Reports
It's easier to fix your credit when you understand the factors that affect it. Start by requesting a copy of your credit report from the three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You'll see which creditors report information to the bureaus and what they say about how you handle your credit.
Dispute Incorrect Information in Your Credit Reports
Don't let incorrect information stay on your report. If an incorrect collection or judgment appears on your report, or if a creditor marks a late payment that you paid on time, then dispute it with the credit bureau. You can do this online or by writing a letter that explains why the agency should remove the information.
Increase Your Credit Limits
Your credit card utilization is a big factor in your credit score reports Experian. Maxing out your cards or maintaining high balances on them lowers your score. Try asking your credit card companies to increase your credit limit. This doesn't pay down your balances, but it does look like you're more responsible with your credit cards.
Reduce the Balances on Your Credit Cards
Paying down your debt is a better option for improving your credit card utilization according to Experian. Unless you find a lump sum of money to pay off everything at once, this method takes more time than asking for a credit limit increase. However, it's better for your budget and long-term financial goals.
Try the Debt Snowball System
The debt snowball system is a popular method for paying down debt. To use it, you list your debts in order from highest balance to lowest balance or in order of interest rates. You can start by paying off the debt with the lowest balance or highest interest rate. When you pay off that account, apply the money you paid on that account to the next account on the list. Repeat until you've paid off all balances.
Open a New Credit Card Account
If you open a new credit card account, you also improve your credit card utilization because it increases the amount of credit you have available reports Inc. Look for one with the lowest interest rate available to you and one that doesn't have an annual fee. Avoid overusing the new credit card and maintaining a balance. This can negatively affect your credit score.
Avoid Opening Too Many New Credit Accounts
If you open too many new accounts at the same time, lenders may question why you're doing it. It can even lower your scores. Creditors want to see that you can use your available credit responsibly, not that you get approved for accounts.
Talk to Creditors
Sometimes a polite conversation goes a long way with your creditors. If you're an established customer who pays on time and misses a payment, try calling the company. Ask them to avoid reporting the missed payment to the credit bureau that could otherwise lower your score.
Keep Credit Cards Open
The amount of time you've had your credit accounts open affects your credit score. Closing accounts doesn't remove them from your credit report, but it does lower your credit card utilization. If you absolutely must close one of your accounts, choose the newest credit card in the bunch, according to Inc.
Pay Bills on Time
Creditors report to the credit bureaus if you pay your bills on time and how many days late you pay them. Missing a single payment can lower your credit score, and it takes time for the score to recover from that, according to myFico. If you have trouble paying bills on time, take a closer look at your budget. Consider signing up for payment reminders or automatic deductions.