How to Repair Your Credit Quickly
There are things you can do and services you can use to speed things up.
When it comes to finding the best personal, home or car loans, bad credit can stop us from taking the next step in our lives. A low score could mean you can only ever get the highest interest rates or that you aren’t approved for any loans at all. While several of the credit bureaus will provide you with a free report every 12 months so you can see your score, they aren’t all as helpful when it comes to telling you how to solve the problem. When you find out that you have a low credit score, it’s natural to want to find a way to fix it overnight. Unfortunately, this just isn’t possible, so if you’re planning to apply for credit, you need to give yourself time to repair the damage.
Although there is no ‘fix-my-credit’ button, there are things you can do and services you can use to speed things up. Here are some of the best ways to repair your credit quickly.
Find Out What’s Damaging Your Score
A credit report is basically a list of all your credit transactions; that’s credit cards, monthly repayments, late payments or defaulted agreements. To have a high credit score, you need to have more positive factors than negative ones on your report. The biggest factors which affect your credit score are:
- Payment History
Do you always make all your payments, and are they on time?
- Credit Utilization Ratio
How much of your total credit are you using? If you’re pretty much maxed out, you’ll be unlikely to be loaned any more.
- Length of credit history
Have you been using your credit accounts for a while (which could indicate you’re reliable in the long-term) or have you only just started out (which could mean you’re a higher risk)?
- New Credit Inquiries
If you’ve been applying for several different credit accounts at the same time - it makes you look a little desperate!
- Credit Mix
The different types of credit you have will also be taken into account like revolving and installment accounts.
When you’ve identified exactly what’s dragging your score down, you can take action to try and repair the damage. Here are a few things you can do to get started:
Reduce or Pay Off Balances
The more you can pay off on your credit cards and loans, the better. It’s also one of the things which has the quickest impact on your score. Try to save money and stop using your credit cards. Make a list of all your accounts and note down both how much you owe to each and which is charging the most interest. You should pay as much as you can afford to the account with the highest interest while maintaining the minimum payments on the others.
It’s always better to pay off a debt than move it to another credit card as in some cases having the same level of debt across fewer accounts can lower your score. In some situations it may be worth applying to a lender to raise a credit limit to improve your credit utilization ratio.
Tip: Don't close unused credit cards to try and raise your score and don't open lots of new credit cards just to increase your available credit or get a better credit mix.
Fixing Errors in Your Credit Report
Occasionally, there are errors in a person’s credit report. If yours says that you’ve missed a payment or that you have credit accounts you don’t recognize, you should raise it as an issue with the credit report agency and contact the lender. They will investigate and, if found to be an error, will remove it from your account. The quicker you get the error resolved, the quicker your score could rise.
Find a Credit Repair Service
There are a range of credit repair services out there which will help you to improve your credit score as quickly as possible. For either an upfront or monthly fee, these companies will devote their time to getting your full credit report, identify the things you can do to make the biggest change in the shortest time and work with you, the credit bureaus and your creditors to find the solution. Check out this review for more information on this type of service to see if it could be right for you.
Start & Maintain Positive Financial Habits
The best way to improve your credit score long-term is to develop better financial habits. When it comes to finances, consistency is key. If a big purchase is coming up, you can plan ahead, budget and save as much as you can to avoid having to rely on lenders.
If you don’t have any credit, get yourself a credit card with a low-interest rate to start to build a credit history. Set up payment reminders or automated payments with your bank, so you never miss a payment. Get all your accounts paid up to date and keep them that way. The older the negative factors are, the less they matter and, eventually (usually after 7 years), bad credit such as missed payments will drop off your report completely, so it is possible to start afresh.