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Helping a shoddy credit report requires time, but there are few steps you can take to expedite the process. Here’s what to do if you’re hoping to give your credit score relatively quickly.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

One of the only surefire ways to give your credit score a quick boost is to pay down any existing debt you may be carrying on a credit card. This will have an immediate (and positive) impact on your credit utilization ratio, which essentially involves how much credit you are using versus how much is actually available to you.

Keep in mind, the move will only work if you pay down the debt then refrain from running up a big balance on the card. Issuers report current balances along with your payment status on a monthly basis so it won’t take long for these new charges to catch up to you.

Check Your Credit Report

Errors on credit reports are actually more common than you may think so combing over your credit report can benefit your score if it is indeed being pulled down by someone else’s negative information. If it isn’t, the exercise can be instrumental in illustrating what you need to do to improve your creditworthiness. Most versions of reports point out what items are particularly detrimental to the person’s score.

Everyone is entitled to a free credit report from the three major bureaus — Experian, Equifax or Transunion — each year. You can also monitor your score for free and get advice on what might be pulling your score down with the Credit Report Card and free mobile app for iOS and Android.

Commit Yourself to Making All Your Payments on Time

A first missed payment can cause a great credit score to fall 100 points or more. The good news is, so long as you don’t follow up this misstep with an even bigger one, you won’t feel the full effect for the entire seven years it takes the line item to age off your credit report.  Begin to undo the damage by getting current on your payments and re-committing yourself to making all future ones on time.

To avoid unconsciously missing a due date, enroll in auto-pay by linking your credit card and debit card accounts. You also might be able to do enroll for these options via your issuer’s iPad or mobile app.

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  • Chanta Willis

    Im trying to buy a house and I know I shouldn’t do anything credit wise till I close.I would like to know if getting a secured card backed with my own money is a good idea to boost my credit score & ratio also when can I do it?

    • http://www.Credit.com/ Gerri Detweiler

      Chanta – I agree that holding off on making any major credit moves while you are in the process of buying a home is a good idea. However, it’s not clear to me whether you are just hoping to buy a home or are in the process of doing so…? What kind of credit cards do you have now? What is your credit score? It’s a little hard to advise without fully understanding your situation a little better.

  • heavyw8t

    Does anybody notice this blog hasn’t been updated for a year and a half?

    • http://www.credit.com/ Credit.com Credit Experts

      It’s hard to understand why you would think that.

  • Reighn9

    Late payments can and do have the full effect against your score for the full seven years no matter how good your current payment record is. “multiple accounts with late payments and derogatory remarks” is still the number one negative factor for my score and my lates are due to fall off this month (August 2013-I was told the 8th) I corrected all my errors between 2010 and 2011 and all my account balances were paid down at that time too. These lates caused some companies to close my accounts or drop my limit even with a good payment record with them. I was able to buy a car a year ago but the late payments kept me from getting a better deal. Still waiting. Maybe next month they will finally be gone. Now just a couple of balances and a high car loan to take care of.

  • John

    I have a closed account with Capital One that has been paid monthly, on time since March of 2011. The account was late prior to that and went to collections. It is managed from our consumer counseling services. When I pulled my credit report in July 2013 it shows that Capital One is reporting charged off, derogatory every month since March 2011. I am not sure how they can do that when it is paid monthly. Can they do this? What action do you recommend that I take.

  • Infro

    A family member put a credit card in my name . I agreed to pay Captial One for all the charges, but not the interst accured before I found out about the debt. The person lived in another state and then they tracked me down when the person stop paying.
    To make a long story short,they put a negitive comment on my credit report.
    I had to pay the IRS for the portion they claimed they wrote off . Question how could they put a negtive comment on my bill and I had to pay the IRS for the portion they called a write off. and I paid 85 % of the bill.
    Also I live in the state of Michigan,it will seven years in August 2013. How can I make sure the three credit reporting companies remove this negative comment off myncredit report and how long after 8/13 they have to remove it ?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      No doubt this was a sticky situation for you since you probably didn’t want to report the id theft/fraud against your family member, which is what it was. Had you done that, it shouldn’t have appeared on your credit reports, and you likely wouldn’t have had to pay anything (including the tax bill that resulted).

      Since it’s coming off in a couple of months I’d suggest you just wait it out and check your credit reports the first week of September 2013. If it’s been seven years since it was charged off, the charge off should no longer be reported then. It should happen automatically as long as the dates on your credit reports are correct.

      Let us know if that’s not the case!

  • JW

    I received a discharge from a no-asset Chapter 7 BR fifteen months ago. I now have three credit cards. I’m keeping usage below 10% of the credit limit and paying on time or early every month. My car is paid off; the only other debt I have is student loan debt, which I also pay on time every month. My current scores are 610, 598 and 638.
    My question is this–as far as raising my scores as quickly as possible, do I: (a) simply continue what I’m doing (using credit cards responsibly) and just let them go up with time or (b) will taking out an auto loan and paying that on time boost my score faster?

    • Deanna Templeton

      JW – Keep doing what you’re doing and give it time. Your bankruptcy is still quite new so taking on a car loan won’t help your score in the short-term. Long-term, yes, but you’ll have to weigh the options because at your current scores, you’ll en up with a terrible interest rate.

      Bankruptcy is one of the most damaging negative indicators for credit scores, add to the fact that the BK is less than two years old, and there’s not a whole lot you can do to improve your scores “fast.” Credit scores place the most emphasis on the most recent 24 months. That doesn’t mean your score will miraculously jump after the two year mark, but it will begin to improve gradually at that point but only if you keep managing your current cards so well. I can tell you that I have seen cases like yours where a consumer has filed bankruptcy, and then jumps right back into the credit environment (to rebuild and manage impeccably) and end up with scores in the 720s in three and half years. Def. keep doing what you’re doing, you’re on the right track. As your scores improve a bit, then add the auto loan.

      • JW

        Will do–thanks so much for your help!

  • Deanna Templeton

    Ilona – it really depends. If there was a large available balance on the card, closing it would close off the available balance and possibly have a negative impact on your revolving utilization percentage. Revolving utilization is the percentage of your balances to your credit limits, and accounts for roughly 30% of your credit score. The FICO score, specifically, looks at both individual utilization and aggregate — or total utilization across all of your credit cards. The higher your utilization, the lower your credit score. The lower your utilization, the higher your score.

    Typically, we’d advise keeping a credit card open and simply avoid using simply because the open credit limit would help your revolving utilization ratio.

    In your case — if the annual fee wasn’t worth it, and as long as closing the account didn’t have a significant impact on your revolving utilization percentage (causing it to spike), the impact to your credit score would be minimal.

    For more on revolving utilization and how to calculate it yourself, here are two great resources:

    What is Revolving Utilization?
    Credit Card Q&A: What exactly is credit utilization ratio?

  • Fred Hinkston


    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am sorry but I don’t quite understand your question. Generally credit card late payments or charge offs can remain on your credit reports for up to 7 years. Liens can be reported for up to seven years from the date they were filed. As far as getting housing is concerned, are you talking about getting a mortgage? You’ll need to talk with a lender to find out where you stand and what your options are for becoming mortgage ready.

  • Kathy Sulots

    We owned two properties, one our primary home and another a rental property. We unfortunately lost both houses and filed for bankruptcy . We were told we would qualify for an FHA loan in three years thru a private mortgage company. , a bank in 7 years. Well this April our 3 years are up , we have credit scores of 700s, a savings acct for a 40 percent down a low to debt to income ratio, solid jobs for many years. Never were late with payment s until this darn market collapsed and we were not able to sell our house. So we went for a mtg commitment letter and we are not able to ge t a loan for the reason being, the rental property that was in Fla, just foreclosed with the accurate deed recorded now. Fla was so far behind with all their issues we now have to wait another 3 years, now a total of 6 years to get an FHA loan!, we are so depressed over this . Is there anything we could correct on our credit report to help us? We were out of the property, no one lived in it for three years! Just now they record in Fla.

  • Tia

    It would be great to pay everything in cash, but I don’t think that’s reasonable in a society that reflects almost everything on a credit score.
    So to help those ppl wanting to rebuild ur credit… get a secured credit card. (Capital One has a good one.) You give them $200 or maybe $500 depends, then they give you a card with that limit. However in order to build ur credit u should spend no more than 30%!!! So on $100 limit, that’s only $30! Yes, it sucks, but after a year or so u will have a score above 700. & be able to get one with $1000 limit or higher.
    It worked for me & my score was 504 with 5 collection accounts on my credit. But I paid it off or at least the minimum each month & didn’t go over the 30% & now I can finally buy a new car!
    Good luck!

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  • Bob Leggett

    I have heard that the credit reporting agencies have to take off anything negative on your credit after 10 years. Is this true?

    • http://mcbikergear.com Ronald Romero

      7 years-10 in some states for judgements-14 years nationwide for bankruptcies.

  • Dale Kerr

    I have been trying to get my credit paid off,my score is way out of this world,and I want to be able to get a credit card to help be able to get home owners insureance and other things that having credit helps you in life,my question is I have paid this $50.00 tv bill like 3 times now and yet its still on my credit report.I have no Idiea how to get that off my report,any help would be greatly appricated,and also other debts I have that I would like to get cleared up and payed off so I can get a credit card for the very first time in my life.Im 53 yrs old and never had credit or a credit card,Im tired of being turned down for a simple loan to pay my bills,Im on a fixed income and need a credit card to get by in this life,Thank you for your help,Dale…

  • cash only

    Actually, I can do without banks and credit scores. I rent, pay everything in cash, and do just fine. You don’t have to run around paying things each month. Mail a money order. I paid cash for my car. It may be old, but it runs better than the new ones my coworkers have. Thanks to my ex husband and a Nigerian who owned the last company I worked for, I lost my good credit. Funny, it hasn’t stopped me from doing what ever I want.

  • Xavier Garcia

    I got in trouble with payday loans several years ago. After paying them for years with out getting rid of the debt I decided to quit paying them. Now they keep passing the debt from one collection agency to another one so the debt is always current even though the original debt was more then 3 4 years ago. How do I get out of these. I really hurts my credit.

  • Cash – agree sort of

    I have gradually been moving back to using more cash than credit. But I don’t believe in our current economic system you can operate only on cash. I don’t know a single person that could afford to buy a house or a car or go to school. The system is designed to keep people in debt. Credit cards are evil – having credit for a house, school and car in my opinion are pretty much unavoidable.

  • Cash is the way to go

    Indeed, I purchased my first home after closing all my credit cards. Can you imagine the result of my credit score?

    Though my score was too low for the purchase and my income was solely based on scholarships (no w2s), the ultimate relies on your agent’s relationship as broker with the lender and agent’s creativity. My agent used lights bills, telephone bills, and consistency of previous work history in order to provide the bank. When your agent has a great working reputation with the bank, credit is secondary.

    ALL things are possible.

    • Nasir Qader

      I need the name of your agent.

  • BubbleHead

    Who the **** needs credit anyway? Banking industries is the biggest buttbiting scam in history. Throw your cards in the trash with your check book. You don’t need a bank to tell you how to spend your money. Do it YOURSELF for FREE with cash. Spend ONLY what you have and you NEVER have a concern about being denied credit…because you DON’T NEED IT. Simple as spit and LOTS of smart people have done just this with absolutely awesome benefit. YES YOU CAN TOO!!! Just go DO IT. You’ll be GLAD you did.

    • rain

      you obviously are not a homeowner with mortgage, realestate tax and insurance payments, heat, electric, cable. come one now, grown-ups have to use banks as a form to stay solvent -nevermind spending your day and petrol running around from co to co paying bills with cash – instead of working at a job making some. Not very realistic!

    • Barbara

      You obviously have not had to apply for a job, own a car or home that needs insurance either – maybe you were left a huge trust fund as a child or won the lottery – any thing that requires insurance coverage of any kind -whether you pay for it with cash or not depends on your FICO score ….. also most employers, as well as government benefits require that you have the funds direct deposited – so I am very curious to know how you live – maybe under a rock ? I hope that all the money you make picking up cans that you keep in a brown bag under the tarp you sleep under or the shopping cart you push isn’t stolen by the rest of the smart people you company. As distainful as the current system is – it a necessary evil in today’s society.

    • auntididi

      I have been very fortunate – still working at 72 – so nothing given to me, however, been said I also lived in a time that you could save money if you didn’t have to have the largest home or the most expensive car and traveled the world on a budget.

      Today no matter how hard a family could try without some outside backing they do have to use credit and just hope they can keep a job.

    • Bryan

      You are a little over the top but in some respects correct. People who are bashing you about living under a rock and drinking the hateraide just don’t know how to handle their finances in a wholelistic manner. They prioritize everything wrong. To keep it simple, I used to have 3-4 credit cards, a car note, a personal loan, and of course the dept store cards. But once I hit a certain income level ANNNNND, decided to act responsibly with my money, I paid them all off one by one and no longer own a credit card, car note, nor any other type of revolving credit. I have a mortgage and that’s it. For all you silly bashers, my mortgage is $2,700 a month and my car is an 08 BMW 5 series, so, its not like I’m living in a shack or drive an old beat up car. I got rid of my cards about 3 years ago if I remember correctly and if I can’t afford to pay for what I want in cash, guess what?, I can’t afford it. So Barbara, now you know who I live, no need to be curious about me or the individual above. Act responsibly by creating a 750 plus credit score and then terminate everything. You score will drop 50 points and bam, you still have good credit. Mine is now 780, down from 803.

    • http://Www.thelendersnetwork.com Randy Roberts

      Pay cash for everything? Throw cards in trash? This will eventually make you a ghost and not able to obtain a loan for anything, financial security and bad or no credit do not mix. If your a millionaire and can but a home cash, pay cash for cars then I still wouldn’t recommend it. Even on a car with good credit you can usually get a rate from 0%-3% and keelp your 25k cash in investments earning more than that. Same goes for a home, if you have a few hundred grand to pay cash for a house, why would you? Rates are at all time lows and that cash is better invested in a fund earning compound interest over the 30 years you will make twice what you end up paying on a mortgage.

      I imagine your no financial expert or a millionaire and your suggestion is ridiculous at best.

    • LP

      I recently was denied a great job opportunity solely because of my credit score. I was assured by the hiring manager that the decision was based solely on the credit score and was not reflective of skill, experience, or interview. So now I remain unemployed after being unexpectedly laid off. Although I completely agree that we should live within our means and pay cash whenever possible, it is just not realistic today to not maintain a credit history and a positive credit score. If you have no credit cards you are not going to have a good credit score. Just because you have credit cards does not mean you have to incur debt and live irresponsibly. I wish our society did not currently revolve around credit, but unfortunately it does.

      • Robby Rew

        Wow that’s awful they can do that what a scam

    • http://mcbikergear.com Ronald Romero

      Deal of it is, unless your independently wealthy, poor ratings will disallow, loans for housing, transportation, discriminately, and unconstitutionally prohibit even renting, and is evolving into employment. Bless the Feds that have created a voluntary submission condition for the employeee—but If one denies, then maybe that’s is just another reason for an employer to “shine-on” the enmassed, employee, unpersonal, hyprocritical, and truly discriminated, number, and get someone else.
      Play the game, play it right, pay-on time, raise the score, and borrow your way to a fortune, hay?

  • rodney williams

    I have a foreclosure on my CBR since ’09, however nothing has been done since the intial letter was sent to me, (Robo signing).. the bank obtained the note from an unlicensed broker, I may be coming into a large settlement from a personal injury, how do i repair my credit….should i try to pay it off…or should i try reinstatement and make payments and rebuild it that way? i may be getting 200k.

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  • Lane

    I did only one of these things and brought my score up 100 points. The reason I hadn’t done it was based on trying to do it many years ago, talking about jumping through a maze of hoops!

    You do need to write an article about this, it’s so much easier now, It took me about 4 hours with all three agencies. And their responses were immediate and professional.

    Some collection agencies are nomadic. They move around, change their names, sell and resell their accounts. In the mix, they are not required to report any of this. I had one credit card listed three times on each report. Yes, it had different account numbers and totals, but It was the same account, the agencies don’t know this.

    Since some of the collectors are nomadic and irresponsible, just by not addressing the challenge, the post get’s deleted.

    Try it, it’s really easy and free. Annualcreditreport.com (referred by this site) is hand’s down the best site to do this. I have it marked on my calender, once a year in January I check it through them, I don’t get spam, and I don’t have to re-register. To dispute you there’s a simple form to fill out, it’s a little different for each one, but nothing near like in the past.

    This all might be state law driven too, Arizona is considered a “closed” state, I don’t know exactly what that means, but if you have a bank account with a national chain and move here, it’s difficult to bank unless you close and reopen a new one within Arizona. It also means I’m protected from out-of-state collection attempts, maybe the credit.com can address this.

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