A better credit rating is worth working for.
- Your credit score determines whether you can borrow and many other aspects of your financial life.
- There are steps you can take this year to end 2022 with a better score than you started with.
Improving your credit score can be very profitable. Better credit can allow you to borrow money at a lower rate, opening the door to refinancing your debt or borrowing good debt that helps build your net worth. It can also help you get cheaper car insurance and make it easier to get a job or an apartment.
But how can you actually improve your score? The good news is that there are a few key steps you can take right now to end 2022 with a better score than you started the year with. Here is what they are:
1. Correct errors on your report
More than a third of Americans have found an error on their credit reports. In many cases, errors on a credit report could cause your score to be lowered without you being responsible. If you want to boost your credit score quickly, you can do so by removing these errors from your report.
You should check your credit report several times a year, which you can do for free from AnnualCreditReport.com. This site allows you to withdraw your report from each of the major credit reporting agencies once a year. Since you can request a free report from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, you can space out your requests and keep an eye on your credit report regularly.
If you spot an error, each of the credit reporting agencies has a process you can use to request the removal of incorrect information. If black spots you didn’t deserve are removed from your record, your score should go up.
2. Ask your creditors if they would be willing to help you remove the black marks
Sometimes your credit score is dragged down not by an error in your credit report, but by a mistake you made. For example, you may have accidentally paid your card late in the past, so your record may show a missed payment.
If your creditors are currently reporting something negative in your credit history, it may be worth asking them if they would be willing to remove it from your file. They may be willing to do this if you’ve generally paid on time with only one or two mistakes, or if you’re willing to make a lump sum payment for the remaining balance.
3. Pay off your current debt
Your credit utilization rate is one of the most important factors in determining your credit score. This ratio is calculated based on the amount of available credit you have used. If you have a credit limit of $1,000 and you charged $500 to your card, your ratio would be 50%.
A lower ratio means a better score, and anything over 30% can significantly lower your credit score. Therefore, paying off your debt this year could help you end 2022 with a better score than at the start.
4. See if you can become an authorized user
Credit card holders are allowed to add authorized users to their accounts. If you know someone with great credit who has a card with a good credit history, you might want to ask them if they would add you to the card as an authorized user. If they agree, the card will appear on your credit report, which will likely increase your score.
This can happen if the card has been open for a long time, as it could lengthen your average account history (which earns you a higher score). A positive payment history and low card usage rate could also help boost your score.
Taking either of these steps can make a big difference to your credit score by the end of 2022. Start working on it ASAP to end the year with a score you’ll be proud of.
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