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Improving your credit score

Here are some ways to improve your credit score.

If you’ve found yourself with a less-than-ideal credit score, there are a few ways you can improve it to help get you where you want to be. Consider the following four strategies if you need a credit-score boost as soon as possible: 

Become an authorized user.

Being added to a longstanding credit account (like that of your spouse, parent, sibling, etc.) can lengthen your credit history and improve your score. However, both you and the account holder need to be wary. If they aren't as financially responsible as you think, your plan can backfire, and both credit scores could suffer.

Request a credit limit increase.

You can ask your credit card providers to increase the limits on all your cards. If you have a history of timely payments with your credit card provider, or have recently received a raise, there's a good chance they will negotiate. This will improve your credit utilization rate, which is the amount of debt you're carrying versus your total credit limits and is a major contributing factor to your credit score. Be cautious, though, with greater limits comes more responsibility not to overspend.

Pay down your cards.

Your credit utilization rate will also improve if you pay down your credit card balances. If you have some extra funds, consider making additional payments on your credit card as soon as possible. Try to keep your utilization rate under 30 percent of your limit. We recommend starting with balances that have the highest interest rates attached to them.

Request a rescore.

One lesser-known trick is to ask your lender about a rapid rescore. Mortgage lenders usually provide rapid rescoring services when applicants are on the cusp of qualifying for a better interest rate. Rapid rescoring can help update credit reports or fix errors quickly, which can help if you plan on applying for a mortgage in the near future.

Be aware of your credit standing.

As a good practice, you should check your credit score minimally once a year. This ensures there are no mistakes and keeps you aware of elements on your credit history that could be impacting your credit that you weren’t aware of.

You can request your credit report once a year – free of charge – from: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. It’s a good idea to put calendar reminders in your phone for every 3-4 months, so you can request a credit report from each credit bureau and get a full view of your credit report.