You want to raise your credit score to qualify for a particular credit card, auto loan or mortgage product. Are there actions you can take to boost your score overnight, or will you have to wait it out? The likelihood of drastically increasing your credit score overnight is slim to none, but it’s possible to start seeing significant improvements over time with the right actions.
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How Fast Can You Improve Your Credit Score?
Lenders and credit card companies generally report to the credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, every 30 to 45 days. Based on the provided information, your credit score could go up, down or remain the same once new changes hit your credit report.
Before diving any deeper, you should understand how your credit score is calculated:
- Payment history: You should pay your bills on time to establish an excellent payment history, which accounts for 35 percent of your credit score.
- Amounts owed: This factor, which accounts for 30 percent of your credit score, is determined by the portion of your credit limit in use.
- Length of credit history: The average age of your credit accounts and the amount of time you’ve used credit accounts for 15 percent of your credit score.
- Credit mix: You want a balance of both revolving (i.e., credit cards) and installment (i.e., loans) accounts as credit mix accounts for 10 percent of your credit score.
- New credit: Roughly 10 percent of your credit score is determined by the number of hard inquiries, which result from applications for credit, on your credit report.
Consequently, your credit score could change when any of the following information is provided by the information furnishers and included on your credit report:
- Payment activity, the status of the account and if payments were made on time
- Updated loan and credit card balances
- The amount of debt you owe creditors and lenders
- Hard inquiries from credit card and loan applications
- Accounts that were recently opened
Can You Boost Your Credit Score Overnight?
If you’re a victim of identity theft, you could see a major increase in your credit score overnight once the fraudulent information is removed. If your credit report is inundated with errors or outdated information, the same applies. Otherwise, gradual improvement over time is more likely.
5 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score
Here are some proven strategies to help improve your credit score over time.
1. Review Your Credit Reports and Dispute Errors
Get a copy of your free credit report and circle any errors you notice. File disputes promptly with the credit bureaus reporting inaccurate or untimely information right away to have it removed or updated.
The credit bureaus will launch an investigation, reach out to the information furnisher and provide a written response within 30 days. Depending on the outcome, your credit score could increase, decrease or remain the same. But if the credit bureau rules in your favor and the error is rectified, your credit score could increase.
You can sign up for a free Experian CreditWorks Basic account to view your Experian credit report and FICO Score. You’ll also receive a monthly Experian credit report and FICO score updates, score tracking and real-time alerts any time changes are made to your credit profile.
Experian Free Credit Score
2. Pay Bills On Time
Payment history is the most significant component of your credit score, so it’s pertinent that you make the required monthly payments on your debts on time. A single late payment on an account that’s 30 or more days past due could tank your credit score by up to 100 points and derail your credit goals. Consider requesting a new due date or putting your monthly debt payments on auto-pay to steer clear of late payments.
If you’re behind on any of your accounts, get caught up by paying the past-due balance or reaching out to the lender or creditor to request a payment arrangement. They may be willing to work with you or enroll you in a hardship program that prevents further damage to your credit score and helps you get back on track.
3. Report Positive Payment History Like Utilities to Credit Bureaus
Although payments made to cable, utility, cell phone and streaming service providers aren’t automatically reflected on your credit report, you have the option to include eligible information with Experian Boost. It’s a free service that gives you credit for on-time payments to qualifying service providers, and could possibly boost your FICO Score 8 instantly.
Even better, there isn’t much effort required on your part to start using Experian Boost. You simply need to create an account and connect the bank account(s) you use to pay bills, then select the eligible payment history you’d like to add to your credit profile.
4. Keep Old Accounts Open
Hold on to those old credit cards that you rarely use to help improve your credit score. If they don’t have a balance, the accounts could be helping your credit utilization ratio and boosting your score. Furthermore, the longer your credit history, the better in the eyes of the FICO credit-scoring model. But closing these cards could hurt your credit score, so consider leaving them open until you meet your credit goals and get approved for the credit cards or loan products you’re seeking.
5. Keep Your Credit Balances Under 30%
Ideally, you want to keep the balances on your revolving accounts at or below 30 percent – the lower, the better. So, if you have five credit cards with $1,000 limits, your balance across the board shouldn’t exceed $1,500.
If you don’t have the means to pay your credit cards down to 30 percent of the credit limit, pay what you can. As you continue to chip away at the balance, your score will start to improve.
You can also ask your credit card issuer for an increase to help lower your credit utilization ratio. But this is only effective if you stop swiping the card for a bit.