These could be your ticket to a higher credit score – and more borrowing options.
- A higher credit score could make borrowing more accessible and affordable.
- There are steps you can take to boost your credit, and a few are really easy.
Many Americans have seen their credit scores take a hit since the pandemic began. Between job loss and inflation, some consumers have fallen behind on their bills and gone into debt to make ends meet. But unfortunately, it is these circumstances that can lead to credit score damage. If you’re looking to boost your credit score this year, here are four steps you need to take.
1. Pay your bills on time
Paying the occasional bill late might seem like a trivial matter, but once you reach the point of being 90 days or more overdue, it can do extreme damage to your credit score. If you’re looking to boost your credit score this year, make sure you pay every bill on time.
If money is in the way, you have several choices. First, you could rework your budget and rethink your spending. Second, you can try to increase your income with a side hustle so that you have enough money to cover your expenses.
2. Reduce your credit card balance
As long as you make your minimum credit card payments each month, you won’t be reported late with these bills. But carrying a balance can still hurt your credit score.
When you use your available credit limit too much, it can lower your score. If you currently have a balance equal to 30% or more of your total credit limit, you can increase your score by reducing that debt.
As with on-time bills, rethinking your spending — and cutting back in certain areas — could help free up cash to pay off your debt. Getting a side hustle could do the same thing.
3. Request a credit limit increase
If you want your credit utilization to be less than or equal to 30%, you have two choices: you can pay off existing debt or increase your credit limit. If you can’t easily do the first, you might be able to easily do the second.
All you have to do is contact your credit card companies and ask for a higher spending limit. They’re likely to agree if you’ve been a cardholder in good standing for several years or can prove you have more income than you had when you first applied for your cards.
That said, if you ask for a credit limit increase, do your best not to use it. If you do, you could find yourself stuck where you are in terms of credit score.
4. Examine your credit report for errors
You never know when a credit report error could lower your score. In 2021, Consumer Reports found that more than a third of Americans had a mistake on a credit report, so you can’t assume yours doesn’t either.
The good news is that credit reports are free on a weekly basis until April, so you have plenty of opportunities to pull yours up and review them carefully. If you’ve never checked your credit report before, be sure to access a copy from each of the three major reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
A higher credit score may make it easier for you to borrow money the next time you need it. Equally important, you’re more likely to get a more favorable interest rate on a loan with better credit, which can make borrowing more affordable. These four tips could help you boost your credit score in 2022, so start building your personal plan to raise that number as quickly as possible.
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