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3 Lightning-Fast Ways to Boost Your Credit Score

Getting a high credit score doesn’t happen overnight. Some of the factors that impact your credit score have a time component involved, including your payment history and the age of your accounts. Credit scoring systems want to see that you can manage credit well and pay on time, and the only way to prove that is to do it consistently.

But there are ways to potentially speed up the process. This can be well worth it, especially if you’re hoping to get access to the most feature-packed credit cards or the lowest interest rates on loans. The following methods could all boost your credit score in as little as one month.

1. Request a credit limit increase

We’ll start with the easiest method. If you ever have credit card debt or high balances on your cards, ask for a credit limit increase. You may be able to request this in your online credit card account. Or, you can call the number on the back of your card.

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This helps with a key part of your credit score, your credit utilization ratio. Credit utilization is the portion of your credit that you’re using — your card balances divided by their credit limits. If you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a $10,000 limit, then your credit utilization is 50%.

Let’s imagine you ask for an increase and get approved for a $20,000 credit limit. That $5,000 balance now only puts your credit utilization at 25%.

The lower your credit utilization is, the better. People who charge large amounts are seen as a greater risk, so high credit utilization can lower your credit score. It’s generally recommended to keep your credit utilization below 30%. If you’ve had high credit utilization, lowering it could add 25 points or more to your credit score.

2. Make a big payment toward your credit card debt

You can also lower your credit utilization the old-fashioned way: paying down your credit card balances. As you pay down your cards, it will reduce your credit utilization.

It’s harder to do this, since you’ll need to have the money to make a big payment. But it’s beneficial in more ways than one. You’ll improve your credit score, and you’ll save money on interest by getting your debt paid off as quickly as possible.

If you’re trying to figure out how to pay more on your credit cards, here are a few options:

  • Tap into your savings. It usually doesn’t make sense to keep money in your savings account when you have credit card debt costing you 20% or more in interest. Use it to pay your cards and build your savings back up once you’re out of debt.
  • Look into debt consolidation loans. Qualifying for a loan will depend on your credit score. But if you can, this may be a good way to refinance your credit card debt and lower your credit utilization.
  • Decrease your spending. When you’re trying to get out of credit card debt, be strict about your spending. Cut back on unnecessary expenses so you can pay more toward your credit cards.

3. Dispute mistakes you find on your credit report

It’s widely recommended that you review your credit report every year for errors. Do most people actually do that? Probably not. You might assume that everything is going to be correct anyway.

That’s not always true. About 13% of consumers have errors on their credit reports that are affecting their credit scores, according to Consumer Reports. With those kinds of odds, it’s in your best interest to double check that everything on your report is correct.

Credit reports from each credit bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are available on AnnualCreditReport.com. You can request free reports every week, although reviewing yours once per year is fine. If you see any mistakes, you can dispute them online with the credit bureau that issued the report.

If the dispute goes in your favor, it can have a significant impact on your credit. A friend of mine raised her credit score by over 100 points by disputing negative items on her credit report.

A better credit score without the wait

Patience can be a good thing, but when it comes to your credit score, there are financial benefits to raising it as quickly as possible. If you have high credit utilization or errors on your credit report, fixing those could have a near-immediate impact.

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