9 Quick and Easy Hacks to Improve Your Credit Score

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Are you looking for easy ways to increase your credit score fast?

Maybe you’ve made some mistakes in the past or you prefer to use cash and need to build your history. Or maybe you’re rocking a 750 but shooting for 800+.

Regardless of how high or low your credit score is, it never hurts to get it higher.

Your credit score can be used by a number of people to determine your reliability and the risk of doing business with you.

Employers, landlords, utility providers, insurance companies, and lenders may all take your credit score into account when determining your rates so it pays to get your score as high as possible.

Here are some simple tricks to help you raise your credit score without much effort.

But first…

What Exactly is My Credit Score and Where Does it Come From?

Your credit score is a number typically ranging between 300-850 used by lenders to determine the likelihood of you repaying your debt. The higher your score the better.

In the United States, there are two main credit scoring companies, VantageScore and FICO.

The best way to check and monitor your credit scores is to use free tools like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

Credit Karma gathers information from both Transunion and Equifax, while Credit Sesame just checks Transunion. But both will give you your VantageScore.

You can also check with your credit card company to see if you can get your Experian FICO score for free. American Express and Discover often offer this service.

You may not be seeing the exact same scores as your lender, but these free scores should give you a ballpark area to know how well you’re doing.

Pie chart showing the activities and percentages that make up your credit score.

Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Credit Score

Once you know your credit score, here are some tips to help you improve it.

Pay Your Bills On Time

It should go without saying that your score is heavily reliant on paying your bills on time.

Your payment history actually accounts for 35% of your score.

If you have a history of late payments the first and best way to raise your credit score is to start building a record of paying on time.

Use my Monthly Bill Calendar to help you see your bills at a glance and make sure you’re planning accordingly.

Dispute Negative Information on Your Credit Report

According to a survey from Credit.com, 21% of Americans found incorrect information in their credit reports.

Disputing something in your credit report isn’t always the easiest process and may take some time. But once that negative information is removed, you should see your score increase immediately.

Just be aware that your score could fluctuate in unexpected ways in the short term.

When you file a dispute, VantageScore will exclude the entire account from your scoring, while FICO will only exclude the items in dispute.

That means your VantageScore will also lose any positives like age of the account, payment history, and available credit as well.

This could result in a lower score until the dispute is resolved.

Pay Off Your Card Early

If you’ve already got a solid history of paying on time consider paying your credit cards off early.

Thirty percent of your credit score comes from the total amount of credit you’re using.

It’s called credit utilization and it calculates the ratio of the amount of credit you have available versus the amount you owe.

For example, say you have a few cards with limits that add up to $20,000 and your total amount due is at $10,000. That’s a 50% utilization rate.

To increase your score you want this number below 30%.

The best way to lower your credit utilization is to find out when your credit card reports your balance and pay it off before they report it. (Usually the reporting date is your closing date not your due date, but call to verify.)

If you pay for everything with credit, your usage is probably pretty high.

Once you know when your credit card company reports your balance to the credit bureaus make a plan to pay it off before that date.

By paying your balance before they report it you’ll knock your utilization score way down, helping bump up your credit score.

Be Strategic With Your Payoff Schedule

Credit utilization isn’t just considered across your accounts, but for your individual credit cards as well.

If you’ve got multiple cards you use for different types of purchases, figure out what the average utilization is across them.

You may think your gas specific credit card only has a few purchases on it, but if it’s limit is super low, it may still have a high utilization ratio.

Ideally, you’ll pay off all your cards before their reporting dates, but if you can’t, make sure to at least pay off the one with the highest utilization rate before its reporting date.

Pay Every Two Weeks

If you put all of your expenses on your card or make a large one-off purchase, it may be inflating your utilization.

Paying your card every two weeks will help raise your credit score by reducing your utilization ratio.

If you’re carrying any debt, this may also be a good tactic to pay it off faster and cheaper.

You’ll pay less interest by paying more frequently and by increasing your score you may qualify for better interest rates and balance transfer offers.

Ask for a Credit Line Increase

Disclaimer: only increase your credit line if you know you won’t be using it, otherwise you’re defeating the purpose.

Asking for a credit increase allows you to reverse hack your utilization score.

Instead of reducing the amount you owe, you’re increasing the amount available.

This means the overall utilization ratio goes down. Remember credit bureaus like for this number to be below 30%.

This tactic is how I was able to continually rotate my debt across zero percent interest cards until I could finally pay it all off.

I had a large amount of debt, but by continuing to increase my available credit (combined with the reduced amount owed as I was paying it off), my debt-to-credit ratio kept getting smaller.

The favorable utilization ratio combined with my payment history contributed to a score in the high 700s.

Another note of warning: If you can’t control your spending, don’t go raising your limits.

You’ll do more harm than good that way.

Apart from adding to you debt, if your credit score is declining due to overspending, asking for an increase may prompt your lender to actually decrease your limit.

Mix Up Your Credit Lines

Ten percent of your score comes from having a mix of credit types in use.

There are 2 main types of accounts:

  • open revolving accounts – these are the accounts that carry balances over from month to month like credit cards
  • installment accounts – these are made up of fixed rate loans paid monthly over a predetermined amount of time like a mortgage or car payment

So in addition to using your credit cards, having a mortgage or car loan can actually increase your score because loans are considered a different type of debt.

The practical application to something like this might be if you’re planning to buy a big ticket item (like a car) with cash consider if a loan option may be more beneficial.

For example, many car dealers offer discounts and even 0% financing when you finance through them. If you have the cash in hand simply stick it into a high yield savings account and automate loan payments out of that account.

You’ll get the discount, earn some interest, and boost your credit score all at once. (Note that adding a new line of credit will likely lower your score in the short term.)

Also, consider consolidating your credit card debt into a personal loan if you can get a favorable rate.

Not only will this mix up your credit lines, but it will reduce your credit utilization as well.

Get Credit For Saving Money and Paying Your Other Bills

There are a couple different ways you can start getting credit for non “credit” activities.

Experian Boost is a service that will collect data on your utility and cell phone payments to help improve your payment history.

UltraFICO is another service that uses your checking and savings account balances to boost your FICO score.

Both of these will require you to give them access to your checking account so if privacy is a concern, they may not be the best option.

Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Account

If you know someone with stellar credit, see if they’ll add you as an authorized user.

This may be a tough sell if you’ve got a bad history with credit cards or they’re just super paranoid about adding people to their accounts (I know I would be).

But the fact is they never have to give you access to the account and can just hang on to that card with your name on it for safe keeping.

Just by being an authorized user on their account, you’ll inherit their positives.

Length of credit history makes up 15% of your score making this a great option if you have a parent or grandparent willing to add you as an authorized user.

Since their age of accounts will likely be much greater than yours it could have an immediate impact.

Be aware though that it may affect your credit utilization (positively or negatively) depending on how high a balance the other person usually carries.

Time to Put These Credit Score Hacks to Work!

If your credit score isn’t where you want it, there are ways to improve it.

While paying your bills on time and keeping them low is still the best way to get and keep a healthy credit score, the hacks above can help you eke out an even higher score in just a few months.

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