Most lenders use the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) rating system to determine if you are eligible for credit products. This system has a score range of between 300 and 850, with the lowest score indicating a bad credit report.
Having a bad credit score merely means that you are a high-risk borrower, and the chances of lenders offering you financial assistance are almost zero. Even if you manage to access credit, servicing your loan may be more expensive due to the high-interest rates pegged on subprime loans.
Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. You can diligently raise your credit score by 300 points, subsequently enhancing your chances of accessing credit products. Here’s how.
Pay your bills on time
Paying your bills on time can mean the difference as far as a good credit score is concerned. Your payment history has a significant influence on your credit report as it shows how committed you are when it comes to settling debts. Lenders will not feel comfortable giving money to someone who has a history of unsettled bills or late payments. To build your score faster, it is advisable that you pay your bills way before the due date. Automate your payments in case you have issues with organization.
Pay off your debt
Paying off your debts or lowering your credit card balances can significantly boost your credit score. Financial expert suggests that your credit utilization should not be more than 30% of the credit limit. If it surpasses this limit, then it is high time you start clearing your balances. You might be tempted to start by paying off your smaller debts, but dealing with the larger balances first is a sure way of improving your credit score faster.
Open a credit account
If you are yet to open a credit account, it is advisable that you do so. Having one or two credit accounts that you use and service responsibly can significantly improve your score. Make sure that your credit card account has a high limit, but only borrow what you can afford to pay back quickly. For instance, if your credit limit is $10,000, you should only borrow less than $1,000 not to appear too risky. Do not apply for an additional credit card account, if you already have one.
Leave old debt on your credit report
Old, but cleared debt is actually good debt. Therefore, leaving an old debt on your credit report is good for your score. Some individuals think that having an old debt on their report is bad for their credit history. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you manage to pay off your mortgage or clear your car loan on time, lenders will view you as a trustworthy potential client. A good repayment history will ultimately improve your score.
Check for mistakes on your file
It is common for credit reports to have errors and mistakes. However, the hard truth is that even the slightest error can impact negatively on your credit score. Order your free credit report copy from agencies such as TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Check your credit file for mistakes and dispute any error you notice to these credit reporting agencies, immediately. You will be surprised that disputing every little error can raise your score by more than 100 points within a matter of weeks.
Report fraudulent activity
Whether you have a bad score or a good debt history, credit fraud can affect anyone. This does not include the common errors associated with credit reports. It involves fraudulent activities such as identity theft and impersonation, where a criminal uses your details to apply for credit products without your knowledge. By the time you realize, it would be too late to correct your credit score unless you pay off this fraudulent debt. You should, therefore, file a dispute with your credit reference agency as soon as you notice any suspicious activity in your credit report.
Avoid joint accounts
Most people do not know this, but having a joint account with your spouse, or business partner has a bearing on your credit score. Your partner’s credit rating can be linked to your score through the joint account that you share. If your partner has a poor record, your score will equally drop. You will be forced to encourage your link to pay up or maintain their credit score so as not to affect your rating.
Add missing accounts
As mentioned severally, your payment history plays a critical role in raising or lowering your credit score. If you want to raise your score by 300 points or more, it is advisable that you add as many payment accounts as possible to your credit report. Request your utility companies to report your payments to credit reference agencies, to improve your credit score. Some of these companies include your telephone company, internet service providers, cable network, wireless provider and so many other companies that you are a subscriber.
Avoid risky tendencies
Do not scare away lenders by indulging in risky tendencies such as moving home too often, borrowing close to your limit or acquiring new credit before clearing your existing debt. These habits are considered bad for your credit score. Credit agencies seem to trust people who are responsible with their finances. Practicing good financial habits is the only way of building a good credit score.
Patience and discipline are everything when it comes to building a good score. As you might have noticed by now, garnering more than 300 points cannot happen overnight; it takes time. You should, therefore, observe patience as you work towards achieving your financial goals.
If you are facing challenges accessing financial help due to a bad credit score, following the above-mentioned tips can greatly improve your fortunes and raise your credit score by 300 points or more. Once you acquire a good credit history, it is crucial that you safeguard it ruthlessly. This is because one small slip-up may cause a massive drop in points and leave you in a worse situation than before. If the worse comes to worst, seek the advice of a competent credit counselor to help you rebuild your credit score.