Having poor credit is stressful and exhausting. It can make being approved for almost any kind of loan, application, or mortgage almost impossible – unless you are willing to pay incredibly high-interest rates. As frustrating and emotionally draining as having bad credit is, it does not have to last forever. Here are 7 ways to boost your credit score.
Get an Up-to-Date Copy of Your Credit Report
Let’s be realistic here, you cannot start to boost your credit score until you know exactly what your credit report says. Your credit report includes a list of the accounts that are hurting your credit score. The easiest and most thorough way of doing this is to order a copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. This will allow you to find out which accounts need work and which are just fine. You can order a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Dispute Any Errors
Once you have gone through your credit reports carefully, make sure to double check any errors that you think you might have found. This is when having a record of payments either through your personal bookkeeping or online banking comes in handy. Contact the respective companies regarding any mistakes and provide them with details on what the dispute is and when it was paid.
Pay Off Any Past Due Balances
Your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your overall credit score. Therefore, the further behind you are on your payments, the more that your credit score is negatively impacted. If you have the money, get caught up on your credit card payments before they are charged-off or sent to a collection agency. Talk to your credit card issuer about your missed payments. Depending on your situation and the person you speak with, they may be willing to re-age your account so your credit report shows your account has always been paid on time.
Pay Off Your Outstanding Debts
Approximately 30% of your credit score is based on how much debt that you are carrying. This means that in order to improve your credit situation you need to start paying off your debts. If you don't have the money on hand, sell some of your belongings to speed up the process. Although it might not be easy, it will pay off in the long run with the financial freedom that you receive in return.
Keep Your Accounts Open
Although it might be tempting to close credit card accounts that have become delinquent – don’t. At least not before you make sure it won't negatively affect your credit. A lot of people are under the misconception that closing a credit card with a balance will improve your credit when really closing it can hurt your credit score even more if the lender also stops reporting your credit limit. It's very rare that closing a credit card will improve your credit score.
Contact Your Creditors
I know, right now your creditors are pretty much the last people you want to talk to, but you'd be surprised at the help you might receive if you call your credit card issuer. If you're having trouble, talk to your creditors about your situation. Many of them have temporary programs that are designed to assist customers in situations like these. Often these programs will reduce your monthly payments for a determined length of time or until you can get back on your feet.
If you are dealing with a really poor credit score, then the reality is that it is not going to change overnight. Depending on your situation it could take years to get your credit score up to where you want it to be.