Your credit score is more than just a random three-digit number in your credit report. In simple terms, it is something that could help you qualify for credit cards, loans, or any other assets that require your financial history.
From a lender’s perspective, it shows that an applicant is creditworthy, money-conscious, and responsible in their spending habits. This is why most financial institutions perform a mandatory credit check on a person at a time of a loan or credit card application.
Considering its seriousness, this three-digit number could make or break your financial future.
Oftentimes, our credit score may not be where we want it to be. There could be a number of reasons for this – unemployment, poor financial decisions, erratic spending, or more. But, that’s okay. Your average credit score can be improved no matter how bad it is.
Before you know about rebuilding your credit score, you need to understand how they are calculated first.
Credit Scores Explained
There are a number of credit reporting agencies from which you can check your credit scores including Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. These agencies use something called a FICO score to assess an individual’s credit risk.
These scores normally range between 300 and 850. People with the highest credit score have points over 800, which means that lenders will be queuing up to give you loans and credit cards. Anything between 670 and 799 indicates that you are in a fairly good position, but there is still room for improvement. 580 to 669 is a cause for concern, and 300 to 579 means your financial outlook is in extremely bad shape.
|Credit Score Ranges||Rating||What it means|
|Over 800||Excellent||Best rates and offers from lenders|
|670 to 799||Good||Average to above-average rates from lenders. Considered fairly creditworthy.|
|580 to 669||Fair||These are subprime borrowers. They are not likely to get favorable rates from lenders.|
|300 to 579||Poor||Unlikely to get approved for new loans or credit cards from lenders.|
Unusual Ways to Boost Your Credit Score
The conventional basics of rebuilding your average credit score are pretty cut and dry – pay your bills on time, keep multiple accounts active, keep your credit card debt or credit utilization low, etc. But if you are really inclined, you can incorporate a few hacks here and there to ensure you get an instant boost.
1. Make part payments before your credit card billing date
This is a simple trick that anyone can apply. Let’s say your credit card is billed on the 20th of every month and you have made purchases worth $1500 in the first week of that month. You can pay off $1000 on the 19th so that only $500 will get billed by your card.
The reason why we are doing this is that it keeps your credit utilization low. It also indicates that you are capable of early payment. Since credit utilization contributes to about 30% of the credit score, you’re sure to get an instant bump here.
All you are doing here is paying a part of your credit early so that it doesn’t get billed.
2. Apply for a secure credit card
A secure credit card is more like a prepaid card. You need to make a deposit to your bank to get one, and this deposit acts as collateral in case you default. Since your credit is backed by a deposit, it is much safer for banks to issue one.
Getting a secure credit card can instantly rebuild your credit score. Since your payments are included in your average credit score, this will show that your payments are being made on time. Also, try your best to manage your balance here as a high outstanding deposit balance is a good indicator for your score.
3. Don’t close your unused credit cards
Spending with multiple credit cards is a terrible idea, especially if you are suffering from a poor credit score. However, having multiple cards, on the other hand, may not be such a bad idea after all. The best you can do is consolidate all your credit under one card and keep the remaining cards free.
The idea here, once again, is to keep credit utilization low. Let’s say you have a single credit card with a $10,000 limit, and you have an outstanding balance of $2000. Here, your credit utilization is 20%. If you had three credit cards with limits of $10,000, $5000, and $5000. Your credit utilization is just 10%. This will automatically boost your credit score.
You may even take turns to use your credit cards and keep them all active at the same time without accumulating debt on everything. A word of caution here – watch out for credit cards with high annual fees.
4. Report your rent in your payment history
Your rent normally takes away a large chunk of your monthly income, but often it goes unreported. As a result, your payment history will not reflect it as a part of your credit score. By doing this, you might be losing an opportunity to easily repair your credit score.
Major credit bureaus like Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax do include rental payments if they receive it. So, regular rental payments and proper reporting can help you boost your credit score without a doubt.
Also, remember, your payment history is 35% of your credit score. By reporting your monthly rent, you can significantly boost your credit score.
5. Keep spending
Yes, you read it right. One way to signal you are doing okay is by keeping up with your regular spending habits. This does not mean that you must waste money on frivolous and non-essential things. That will do more harm than good. All it means is that you spend your disposable income on things important to you.
But before you start spending, you need to make sure that you have enough disposable income in savings and investments. Regular spending and regular payments can build a solid financial history and help you increase your credit score.
6. Become an authorized user on good credit accounts
This is an easy way to boost credit scores quickly. However, this works only with your family or close friends. If your family member or best friend has a good credit history, you can ask them to add you as an authorized user of their credit card.
By doing this, your financial activity will get intertwined with the other person and you can take advantage of their good credit history. A word of caution here – bad payment activity on your part will also affect the person who’s helping you out. So, do not put them in a bad spot for watching out for you.
7. Seek extension for late payments
There might come a time where you will be forced to miss a payment deadline. In such cases, it is better to communicate directly with your lender. You are their customer too. With proper negotiation, you might even get a waiver on late fees and penalties.
Even if you can’t get the late fees waived, you can ask them not to report your payment as late to the credit bureaus. If you are someone with a good payment history and long-standing relationship, they will help you out in a dire situation.
Late payments can seriously affect your credit score. It is always better to reach out to the bank and seek a proper solution.
These unusual ways work best when they are implemented alongside conventional strategies like paying your bills on time. It is not a bad idea to reach out to a credit repair agency and ask for their help. When you incorporate a combination of the tips listed here, you have a better chance of rebuilding your credit score instantly.
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