Improving your credit score is usually considered a lengthy project. Many factors that contribute to a good credit score — such as payment history and age of accounts — take time to establish. And if you have no credit history or a poor credit score, your best bet for credit improvement may be to establish a long-term plan for establishing good credit habits.
But if you’re thinking about applying for, say, a mortgage in the new year or have another financing need on deck in early 2017, you may want to know how to quickly improve your credit score in 30 days or less. While no activity is guaranteed to improve your credit within a time frame that short, there are quick, simple actions you can take to try for fast results. Here are a few ways to jumpstart your credit score:
1. Become an authorized user
“One tried-and-true trick is to have someone with great credit add you as an authorized user to a card that they’ve had for a long time,” says Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.
Using this method, you can piggyback off someone else’s good credit. Authorized users benefit from responsibly managed accounts because these accounts will be listed on the user’s credit report. But both you and the account holder need to be wary – if they aren’t as financially responsible as you think, or if they use their card irresponsibly, your plan can backfire and both credit scores could suffer. Note: Authorized users can request delinquent accounts be removed from their credit reports; primary cardholders not-so-much, so be sure you’re not overcharging.
2. Request a credit limit increase
You can ask your credit card providers to increase the limits on all the cards you own. If you have a history of timely payments with your credit card provider, there’s a good chance they will negotiate. By increasing your credit limits, you’ll be improving 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.
Note: This will only work if you don’t increase your spending. If your credit card issuer raises your limit by $1,000, and you immediately start racking up charges that eat up the difference, the increased limit won’t do much good. Experts recommend keeping your credit card usage at no more than 30%, with an ideal balance at 10%. (You can check your credit utilization rate by viewing two of your free credit scores on Credit.com.)
Keep in mind, too, a request for a credit limit increase could result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can ding your credit scores, so use this strategy carefully.
3. Pay down your cards
To the point above, your credit utilization rate will also improve if you pay down your credit card balances. If you have some extra funds, consider making extra payments on your credit card rather than dropping $100 at Chili’s this weekend. Doing the former can make a real difference and is a decision you’re unlikely to regret. “Paying down your credit card balances to under 30% of the limits” will net results, says Fleming.