One of the fundamental measures of your financial health is your credit score. A higher credit score suggests that you’ve adopted solid money habits, such as paying your bills on time, keeping credit card balances low and and only applying for credit when it’s really necessary.
A fair or poor credit score, on the other hand, can paint a very different picture. If you’re ready to change your financial image, starting with your credit, keep reading to learn how to improve your credit score quickly, with minimal stress.
- Start with a credit check
Improving your credit begins with knowing what’s holding your score back. It could be late payments or high balances on your credit cards or an error that you didn’t realize was on your report. (And if you see an error, don’t hesitate to dispute it with the credit bureau that’s reporting the information.)
Checking both your credit reports and your score can give you some perspective on how to turn your score around. A relatively easy way to get a look at your credit is by signing up for free credit monitoring services. You can review your updated report and score monthly and as an added benefit, these services can alert you when new information, including score changes, show up on your credit.
- Get your bill payments on a schedule
The single worst thing you can do for your credit score is paying bills late. Just one late or missed payment can knock up to 100 points off your score.
A simple way to avoid late payments is to put your bill payments — specifically credit-related bills like credit cards or loans — on auto-pilot each month. That makes bill-paying less of a hassle and you have the assurance of knowing that payments are being made on-time.
If automating all your payments isn’t realistic, you can still stay on top of due dates by setting up payment reminders or alerts for each of your accounts.
- Review your credit card balances and limits
If you have credit card debt, take time to review your balances. One important piece of the credit score puzzle is the ratio between your balances and your overall credit limit. Using more of your available credit can be detrimental to your score.
Fortunately, there are two fairly quick remedies improving your ratio, which could also help improve your score. First, work on paying down your balances as much as possible. Then, reach out to your creditors to request a credit limit increase. The combined effect of lower balances and higher limits could positively impact your score in as little as a month.
Track your credit progress
If you signed up for credit monitoring services, track your credit score changes from month to month. Focus on what’s working and address what’s not.
And while you’re working on improving your score, remember to avoid making any sudden credit moves. Opening new accounts or closing old ones could stunt your score’s positive growth in the short-term.