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Unfortunately, it’s impossible to raise your credit score by 100 points overnight, unless you were the victim of identity theft. FICO scores only range from 350 to 800, so a 100-point change represents a significant shift in your creditworthiness.
For example, increasing your credit score from 600 to 700 would lower your interest rate on a used car loan from 16.85% to 5.53%, on average1. Building that much credit takes time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.
Here’s everything you need to know to increase your credit score by 100 points as quickly as possible, even if it won’t happen overnight.
How Fast Can You Raise Your Credit Score?
Raising your credit score is a long-term project. You’ll usually need to measure your progress in months, not days. In fact, most data furnishers only share info with the credit bureaus monthly.
As a result, you should generally expect to build credit for at least a year to raise your score by 100 points. However, it can vary significantly depending on what score you start with and what steps you take to build your credit.
Also Read: Best Credit Building Apps
There are ways to boost your credit score fast, but they’re often problematic. For example, paying off a significant percentage of your outstanding debt at once can vastly increase your rating, but it requires so much capital that it’s often unrealistic.
Quick credit building is almost an oxymoron, like a short marathon. In fact, services that say they can help you build good credit fast are often scams looking to take advantage of desperate consumers.
1. Dispute Negative Entries on Your Credit Report
If you already have an established credit history, you may be able to improve your credit score by removing negative items from your credit report.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act gives consumers the right to dispute inaccurate information in their files, and you can get a free credit report once per year from FreeAnnualCreditReport.com.
Since the major credit bureaus don’t communicate with each other, you need to dispute any mistakes they share with each one separately. Fortunately, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion all make it easy to do online.
Also Read: Credit Score Statistics
While you’re not technically supposed to dispute accurate negative information, doing so might still be beneficial, at least in the short term. Credit repair services often utilize this tactic.
When you dispute an entry in your credit report, the credit bureau responsible for it has to investigate. That includes confirming the information with the creditor who sent the data. The bureau will remove the entry if they don’t get a response within 30 days.
As a result, you may be able to increase your credit score by disputing all of the negative details. However, even if the bureau removes a negative entry, they may add it back later if the creditor reaffirms that it’s accurate.
2. Get Three Revolving Credit Accounts
Credit scores represent the likelihood that you’ll repay your debts, and raising them requires demonstrating that you can manage credit accounts responsibly. As a result, you need to take on debt to build credit.
Revolving accounts are much easier to juggle simultaneously than installment loans since they don’t have monthly payments, and they’re often the best way to establish a payment history.
Taking out several accounts will help you raise your score more quickly, so here are three of the best options to consider.
Grow Credit is a virtual credit builder card you can use to pay for monthly subscriptions, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or AT&T. Unfortunately, you can’t use it for any other spending besides most subscriptions, but Grow reports to all three major credit bureaus.
In addition, the account is accessible to people with limited histories and poor scores. There’s a soft credit check when you apply, but it only affects which subscription tiers you can access, not whether you qualify for an account.
If you meet the minimum credit requirements, you can sign up for their Build Free option, which costs nothing and lets you pay up to $17 toward monthly subscriptions.
If you don’t meet the requirements, you’ll have to provide a $17 refundable security deposit and pay $1.99 monthly for an account with the same terms.
Petal is a credit card company that offers one of the best accounts available for someone with a bad credit score. Instead of initiating a credit inquiry when you apply, the credit card issuer uses your banking history to give you a Cash Score.
The Cash Score represents your creditworthiness based on your monthly income, spending habits, and savings. As a result, you can qualify for the Petal 1 credit card with no prior credit history.
The Petal 1 credit card also offers surprisingly favorable terms for a starter card. Not only is it unsecured, but there’s also no annual fee, and you’ll earn up to 10% back on purchases at select merchants.
The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is another one of the few unsecured credit cards available to consumers with bad credit. If you can’t qualify for other revolving accounts, it’s a viable option to use for your daily transactions.
However, Indigo doesn’t offer the most favorable terms. There’s a recurring annual fee, late and returned payment fees of up to $40, and no cash back rewards.
As a result, Indigo is primarily a backup option to consider when you can’t qualify for other accounts. If you can afford to save up a deposit for a secured credit card, you might find one with lower annual fees and better rewards.
3. Get an Installment Loan
Revolving credit accounts are easier to manage than installment loans, but it’s best to have both types of debt in your credit report. The diversity of your credit accounts is worth 10% of your credit score.
However, taking on multiple loans at once can be financially burdensome. As a result, you can settle for one installment credit account to round out your credit mix.
Of course, it’d be financially irresponsible to take out a personal loan or home loan just to build credit. Fortunately, credit builder loans can serve as a great alternative.
These accounts usually don’t require that you undergo a credit check to qualify, and you don’t have to use them to finance purchases.
Instead, your lender keeps your proceeds as collateral, then releases them once you pay off your balance, helping you save money.
CreditStrong offers our favorite consumer credit builder loans. They can help you report a credit line of up to $2,500, their monthly payment options can be as low as $15 per month, and you get a free credit score update monthly.
In addition, you’re free to cancel at any time without penalty. Give it a try today!
4. Make On-Time Monthly Payments
Lenders use your credit score to assess the likelihood of you paying them back, and your previous track record is the best predictor of your future behavior. As a result, payment history is the most impactful credit scoring factor.
That means making your monthly payments on time is the best thing you can do to build a good credit score. Having three revolving accounts and an installment loan won’t provide any benefit if you don’t make your monthly payments.
Even a single late payment can damage your credit score significantly and stay on your report for seven years. It’s a good idea to set up automatic payments for each account to avoid missing one by accident.
If you’re afraid of overdraft fees, set the autopay on your revolving credit accounts to the minimum balance. You may incur interest if you forget to pay your statement balances, but you’ll avoid any damage to your score due to late payments.
5. Keep Credit Utilization Ratio Below 10%
Your outstanding debt balance is the second most significant credit scoring factor. It’s worth 30% of your FICO score, making it slightly less impactful than your payment history. However, the gross amount matters less than your credit utilization rate.
Credit utilization is a measurement that gives context to your credit card debt amounts. It equals your credit card balance divided by your total available credit. For example, owing $2,000 on a card with a $4,000 credit limit means you have 50% utilization.
Generally, your credit score will benefit the most from a credit utilization ratio below 10%. That shows lenders that you’re using your accounts, but you’re not over-relying on them or in danger of missing a payment.
You’ll have to pay close attention to your debt balances to stay below 10% utilization, but you can make it easier by requesting a credit limit increase. That way, you can spend more without exceeding 10% utilization.
How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?
If you’re not exactly sure how your credit score gets calculated, then you’re not alone. Roughly 37% of Americans agree with the statement that they “have no idea” how credit scores work.
Fortunately, it’s easier to understand than you might expect. We’ve touched on some scoring factors in previous sections, but here’s a more thorough explanation of what they mean and their respective levels of importance:
- Payment history: Whether you’ve made your previous monthly payments on time is the best indicator of whether you’ll pay in the future. That’s why payment history is worth 35% of your score, making it the most heavily weighted factor.
- Amounts owed: You can only afford to pay so much toward debt every month. Lenders know that if your outstanding debts are too high, you won’t be able to take on more. As a result, this factor is worth 30% of your score.
- Length of credit history: The older your credit accounts, the more experience you have managing debt. Lenders consider that a good thing, so the length of your credit history is worth 15% of your score.
- Credit mix: Lenders want to see that you know how to manage multiple types of credit, so FICO reserves 10% of your score for the diversity of your accounts.
- New credit: Applying for a lot of new credit at once suggests to lenders that you’re experiencing financial distress. That makes you less likely to pay your debts, so your new credit activities are worth 10% of your score.
Before applying for new credit accounts, take the time to learn the industry terminology, the overarching credit system, and your rights as a consumer. If you’re having trouble, consider getting credit counseling from a non-profit credit union.
Aslo read the rest of the articles from our series:
- How to Change Your Credit Score Illegally
- How to Increase Your Credit Score to 800
- 800 Credit Score After Bankruptcy
Nick Gallo is a Certified Public Accountant and content marketer for the financial industry. He has been an auditor of international companies and a tax strategist for real estate investors. He now writes articles on personal and corporate finance, accounting and tax matters, and entrepreneurship.