How to repair my credit and improve my FICO Scores
It’s important to note that repairing bad credit is a bit like losing weight: It takes time and there is no quick way to fix a credit score. In fact, out of all of the ways to improve a credit score, quick-fix efforts are the most likely to backfire, so beware of any advice that claims to improve your credit score fast. The best advice for rebuilding credit is to manage it responsibly over time. If you haven’t done that, then you need to repair your credit history before you see credit score improvement. The tips below will help you do that. They are divided up into categories based on the data used to calculate your credit score .
3 Important Things You Can Do Right Now
- Check Your Credit Report Credit score repair begins with your credit report. If you haven’t already, request a free copy of your credit report and check it for errors. Your credit report contains the data used to calculate your score and it may contain errors. In particular, check to make sure that there are no late payments incorrectly listed for any of your accounts and that the amounts owed for each of your open accounts is correct. If you find errors on any of your reports, dispute them with the credit bureau.
Read more about Disputing Errors on Your Credit Report
More Tips on How to Fix a Credit Score Maintain Good Credit
Payment History Tips
Contributing 35% to a FICO Score calculation, this category has the greatest effect on improving your scores, but past problems like missed or late payments are not easily fixed.
- Pay your bills on time.
Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your FICO Scores.
The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your FICO Scores should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your FICO Scores fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report. And good FICO Scores weigh any credit problems against the positive information that says you’re managing your credit well.
It will stay on your report for seven years.
This won’t rebuild your credit score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should increase over time. And seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your FICO Scores.
Amounts Owed Tips
This category contributes 30% to a FICO Score’s calculation and can be easier to clean up than payment history, but that requires financial discipline and understanding the tips below.
- Keep balances low on credit cards and other “revolving credit”.
High outstanding debt can affect a credit score.
The most effective way to improve your credit scores in this area is by paying down your revolving (credit cards) debt. In fact, owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your scores.
This approach could backfire and actually lower your credit scores.
Length of Credit History Tips
- If you have been managing credit for a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too rapidly.
New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your scores if you don’t have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.
New Credit Tips
- Do your rate shopping for a given loan within a focused period of time.
FICO Scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.
Opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your credit score in the long term.
This won’t affect a score, as long as you order your credit report directly from the credit reporting agency or through an organization authorized to provide credit reports to consumers.
Types of Credit Use Tips
- Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed.
Don’t open accounts just to have a better credit mix it probably won’t raise your credit score.
In general, having credit cards and installment loans (and paying timely payments) will rebuild your credit scores. Someone with no credit cards, for example, tends to be higher risk than someone who has managed credit cards responsibly.
A closed account will still show up on your credit report, and may be considered by a score.
To summarize, “fixing” a credit score is more about fixing errors in your credit history (if they exist) and then following the guidelines above to maintain consistent, good credit history. Raising your scores after a poor mark on your report or building credit for the first time will take patience and discipline.
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