When it comes to maintaining good credit, maybe you haven’t exactly been at your A game. You might have put more on your credit card than you would’ve liked, or missed a few payments on your student loans. Instead of beating yourself up over it, you can be proactive and take steps to turn your credit situation around. While there is no magic elixir to transform your score overnight (rebuilding your credit ultimately takes time, after all), here are three things you can do to boost your credit score in 30 days:
- Fix any errors on your credit report.
First things first: How exactly is your credit score determined? Your credit score, or FICO® score, is made up of the following:
- 35% – Payment history
- 30% – Amount you owe lenders and how close you are to paying everything off
- 15% – Length of credit history
- 10% – Proven ability to manage different types of credit (i.e., auto loans, student loans, credit cards)
- 10% – If you’ve recently applied for a loan
One thing you can do is order a copy of your credit report and check it for errors. You can order one through AnnualCreditReport.com. The good news is that you get one free per year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus—TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax—so you can look over your record every four months to make sure there are no mistakes. If you see anything that’s incorrect, you can contact the credit bureau and dispute the error.
Pro Tip: If any of your debts have gone to collection, Lance Cothern of Money Manifesto recommends reaching out to a creditor to see whether, if you pay them immediately, they’ll remove this debt on your report. Just make sure you get this in writing.
- Pay your bills on time.
As payment history makes up a good chunk of your credit card score, you’ll want to make paying bills on time a major priority. Automating payments is an easy way to make sure you stay on top of things.
Pro Tip: If you can swing it, try to make payments twice a month to pay things off quicker. If you make one of the payments before the closing date, it’ll help your credit score because it will show a lesser amount is owed on your report.
- Use your credit cards responsibly.
Having a low credit utilization ratio will help improve your credit score. What this means is that you spend way less than the limit on all your credit cards combined. How much is less exactly? Ideally 10% or less is ideal, but staying under 30% will give you a decent credit utilization ratio. For instance, if you have a $5,000 limit on all your credit cards total, having no more than $1,500 on your balance will help boost your score.
Pro Tip: To help you resist going overboard with swiping the plastic, you can use an app such as CardNav by CO-OP, if it’s offered by your credit union, to set spending limits or turn off your card if you need to.
As having a good credit score is essential to your purchasing power, doing these three things can help rebuild your credit within 30 days time and have you on the road to a great score.