Five Things Smart People Do to Build Credit in Three Months

Is your poor credit history preventing you from obtaining your financial goals, such as getting a credit card, buying a car, or purchasing a home? If so, there are steps you can take right now to improve your credit score in as little as three months.

This article provides actionable steps you can take today to start on the path to rebuilding your credit.

In This Piece

How Quickly Can You Improve Your Credit?

The exact amount of time it can take to repair your credit score depends on several factors, such as your current credit score, the amount of debt you owe, your ability to repay your debt, and your overall credit history.

Despite this, you can start making improvements in as little as three months. Below is a look at five things you can do to improve your credit score, along with tips to keep in mind.

1. Pay Off the Debt You Can

Start by paying off as much debt as possible. There are several strategies you can use to pay down your debt, including the debt avalanche method, the snowball method, and a debt consolidation loan. No matter which method you use, the faster you can pay down some of your debt, the sooner your credit can start to improve.

Keep in mind that it could take your creditors up to 30 days to report payments to the credit bureaus and another 30 days for the credit bureaus to post these payments to your account.

2. Minimize Your Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization ratio accounts for up to 30% of your overall credit score. This ratio compares the amount of credit you have available with the amount of credit you’ve used. It’s recommended to keep this ratio below 30%. If you’re having trouble hitting this number, here are some things you can do.

Ask for a Higher Credit Limit

If your credit utilization ratio is above 30%, you can ask your credit card company to increase your credit card limit. This strategy will increase the amount of credit you have available, which can help lower your credit utilization ratio.

Use as Little Credit as Possible

Instead of using your credit card to make multiple or large purchases, consider using another method to pay. The less you have charged to your credit card, the better your credit utilization ratio will be.

Taking these steps to decrease your credit utilization rate could start to improve your credit in as little as 60 days.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report

According to a recent study, 34% of Americans found at least one mistake on their credit report. Just one credit card error could damage your credit score. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on your credit report.

You can request a free credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, at annualcreditreport.com. Obtaining your credit report is just the first step; you also want to perform the following tasks.

Check Your Report for Errors

Carefully review your credit report to make sure all the information listed is correct, including your personal information and account details. Make a list of any incorrect information and any accounts or personal information that’s missing.  

Dispute Inaccurate Information

The best way to remove incorrect information on your credit report is to file a dispute with the credit reporting agency. Write a dispute letter that clearly explains what inaccurate information is listed on your credit report and why it’s incorrect. Submit this letter, along with any supporting documents, to the credit bureaus listing the error.

Typically, the credit reporting agencies have up to 30 days to investigate your dispute and another 5 days to let you know their decision.

Ask if Lenders Will Remove Paid-Off Items From Your Report

Many lenders report past-due accounts to credit reporting agencies to entice customers to pay their debts. Once you pay your debt off, the lender may be willing to remove this debt from your credit report. Contact your lender directly to make this request.

It could take days, weeks, or months to receive a clear answer from your lender. If they do agree to remove this debt, it could take up to 60 days to reflect on your credit report.

How to Add Your Utility Bills to Your Credit Report

Typically, utility companies don’t report on-time payments to the credit bureaus. You can, however, work with a reporting service company, such as Credit.com’s ExtraCredit service, to make sure these payments along with your rent payments are listed on your credit report. This step can help prove you have a strong payment history.

Once you sign up for a credit reporting service, you can expect to see these payments on your credit report within 60 days.

4. Consider Applying for a New Line of Credit

Having a mix of different types of credit accounts, such as revolving credit accounts and fixed-payment accounts, makes up to 10% of your credit score. If you want to boost your credit score, it’s important to have a nice mix of different accounts. Below is a look at some types of credit accounts you may qualify for even if you don’t have good credit.

Are Credit Builder Loans Right for You?

As the name suggests, credit builder loans are designed to help you build credit. This type of loan is different from traditional loans, as you don’t have access to the money until you make all your payments. Obtaining a credit builder loan can be a great way to save money while building your credit because these lenders often report loan payments to the credit bureaus.

Types of Credit to Consider

If you can’t obtain a traditional credit card, there are other options, such as:

  • Secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you’ll be required to put down a cash security deposit prior to obtaining your card. Otherwise, these credit cards work just like traditional cards and can help you build your credit.
  • Authorized user. If you can’t obtain your own credit card, you can ask a friend or family member to add you as an authorized user to their account. If the credit card company reports your authorized user status, it can help build your credit.

Tips for Applying for New Credit

While maintaining a mix of credit accounts can help you build your credit, you want to make sure you don’t open too many new accounts too quickly. This action could damage your credit score due to excessive credit inquiries. Instead, take it slow and gradually open a mix of accounts.

Opening just two different types of credit accounts, such as a car loan and a credit card, can impact your credit as soon as they’re reported on your credit report.

5. Keep on Top of Your Finances

Keeping on top of your finances is a very important building block in your credit foundation. Start by building a budget and sticking to it. This step can make sure you don’t overspend, help you start to save money, and learn to be more conscious of how you’re spending your money on credit.

What to Do if You Don’t Have Credit

If you currently have little to no credit, you may be wondering how you can build credit in just a few months. Taking some of the steps above, such as working with a reporting service company, obtaining a secured credit card, or becoming an authorized user, can help you build credit as soon as they are reported.

Knowing how to raise a credit score in three months is just the first step. Now, it’s time to take action.

Sign up for ExtraCredit today.

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