Skip to main content
Tips to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Tips to Improve Your Credit Score Fast


Jenius Bank Team1/9/2024
A women dreaming of owning a home next to a chart indicating a high credit score.

A high credit score may help you gain access to lower rates or exclusive offers.

Your credit score tells lenders a lot about your financial habits. High scores indicate responsible financial behaviors and may help you qualify for lower rates or exclusive offers. Low scores may make it harder to get approved for loans or credit cards or result in higher rates on these products.¹

If your credit score is lower than you’d like, there are steps you could take to help improve it over time.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit scores change over time and certain actions may cause your score to increase or decrease.

  • Making monthly payments on time, reducing your credit utilization, and consolidating debt may help you improve your score.

  • Good credit scores may help you qualify for loans and other financial products more easily.

Credit Score Overview

Your credit score is a number that gives lenders and other interested parties an idea of your financial habits and are used when making certain decisions. Scores range from 300 to 850 on both the FICO and VantageScore models, with higher scores indicating that you engage in good financial practices like paying your bills on time.

What’s a Good Credit Score?

Achieving and maintaining a good credit score is a goal for many people. In 2022, approximately 67% of Americans had scores of 670 or higher, putting them solidly in the “good” category.²

So, what exactly counts as a good score? Credit scores range from 300 to 850 with 300 being the lowest (or worst) score and 850 being the highest (or best) score. But this largely depends on the scoring model you’re looking at.

As mentioned, there are two credit modeling methods that lenders commonly use: FICO and VantageScore. With the FICO model, “Good” scores are between 670 and 739, “Very Good” scores are between 740 and 799, and “Exceptional” scores are 800 and above.³ Vantagescores have slightly different brackets, with scores of 661 to 780 considered “Good” and scores of 781 to 850 considered “Excellent”.⁴

While these are the guidelines the models have established, lenders are free to set their own requirements. Some may consider a score as low as 650 to be a good score, while others may set the bar higher at 700. Due to these varying requirements, it may be helpful to compare lenders before you decide to apply for a financial product.

Why Does Having a Good Credit Score Matter?

Good credit scores show lenders that you’re a financially responsible person who pays their bills on time. This may translate to some meaningful benefits, such as:

  • Higher Likelihood of Approval. Lenders use your credit score as a way to gauge your riskiness as a borrower. A higher score usually indicates lower risk and may make you more likely to be approved for a loan or new line of credit.

  • Qualify for Lower Rates. Having a good score may result in lower rates on money you borrow. The lower your rate is, the less interest you pay over the life of the loan, which could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

  • Higher Credit Limits. Lenders may reward your good financial habits and good credit score with higher credit limits or larger loans.

  • Access Prescreened Offers. Credit card issues often want to work with individuals with good credit scores and may send prescreened offers with unique benefits or rewards to encourage these individuals to apply.

  • Better Insurance Rates. Insurance companies often look at your credit history when deciding how much you should pay on your monthly premiums. The better your score is, the more likely you may be to have lower premiums.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Aiming for a good credit score is a smart idea, but what should you do if your score is on the lower end? Use these tips to help you build your credit back up.

Track and Monitor Your Score

No matter how many good habits you have, it’s important to monitor your score to ensure these habits are paying off.

There are several ways to monitor your score. For example, your bank or credit card provider may offer credit monitoring services, or you could also use a third-party service.

Pay Bills on Time

Paying your mortgage, credit card accounts, and other bills on time each month may also boost your score. When you make payments on time each month, it establishes a positive payment history and when that history gets reported to the credit bureaus, it may boost your score.

Keep in mind that not all payments are reported to the bureaus. For example, some utility companies and landlords don’t report your payments. That said, you may be able to request that your utility provider or landlord report your good payment history to the bureaus if they’re not doing so already.

Check Your Credit Report for Errors

Even minor errors on your credit report could impact your score and cause it to drop. Get in the habit of checking your credit report with each major credit bureau at least once each year. You’re able to do this for free through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Once you have the report, look for errors. Some common ones include the following:⁵

  • Accounts that are current but being reported as late

  • Incorrect account opening dates

  • Incorrect reported credit limits

  • The same debt or loan showing up more than once

  • Incorrect accounts reported due to identity theft

If you notice any of these errors, you want to contact the bureau who created the report. They may be able to correct the errors quickly. Once the errors are resolved, your credit score may change.

Improve Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio refers to how much of your available credit you’re using at any given time. For example, if you have two credit cards with a combined credit limit of $10,000 and you have $3,500 on one card and $4,000 on another, you’re accessing $7,500 worth of credit between the cards and your overall credit utilization ratio is 75%.

The higher your credit utilization ratio is, the more negatively it may impact your credit score. Lenders typically want to see credit utilization ratios of 30% or less as it shows that you’re able to use your credit responsibly.

To improve your utilization ratio, try to pay down your balances over time. You may consider employing a debt payoff strategy, such as the debt snowball or debt avalanche method, or use a personal loan to consolidate your debt. As your balances drop, your utilization ratio improves and may also improve your overall credit score.

Another way to improve your utilization ratio may be by opening a new line of credit to increase the total available credit you have access to. Just remember that opening a new line of credit results in a hard inquiry on your credit report and may cause a minor score drop.

Wait for Negative Items to Fall Off Your Report

Luckily, negative marks (also called derogatory marks) on your credit report don’t stick around forever. In fact, credit bureaus only report negative items for specified time periods. Some negative items that may be reflected on your credit report include:⁶

Derogatory Marks

Timeframe

Hard inquiries

2 years

Missed payments

7 ½ years

Repossession

7 years

Collections

7 years

Student loan delinquency or default

7 years

Chapter 13 bankruptcy

7 years

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

10 years

Foreclosure

7 years

Apply for New Credit Intentionally

Anytime you open a new line of credit, your credit score takes a hit because lenders perform a hard credit check before approving you for the product. Hard check pulls allow lenders to review your full credit report and signals to the credit bureaus that you may be taking on more debt.

Be intentional when applying for new credit and try to avoid applying for new cards or loans back-to-back to reduce the number of hard credit checks on your record, as this may help keep your score higher.

Consider Consolidating Debts

Consolidating your debts may also help improve your credit score. When you consolidate debt, you’re effectively rolling the balance of one or more debts into a debt consolidation loan or a new line of credit, ideally with a lower rate. This may improve your credit score for several reasons.

First, it may lower your credit utilization ratio since you’re either opening a new line of credit or using a loan to pay down the balance of an existing card or cards. Second, it alters your credit mix by diversifying the types of debt you have on your credit report.

Consolidating debt may also save you money in the long run by letting you access a lower rate. This may allow you to pay off your debt faster and pay less in interest over time.

Final Thoughts

Your credit score plays an important role in your financial health and it’s never too late to work on improving it.

By following these tips, you may see your score climb steadily over time. Remember that making on-time payments, checking your credit report, and making intentional choices all have the ability to affect your score over time.

Financial WellnessBorrowing & Credit