Having lousy credit feels like a trap full of quicksand. The more you struggle, the deeper you get, and it can feel like help is out of reach when you need it most.
Believe it or not, bad credit doesn’t have to last forever. There are many ways to improve your confidence and increase your credit score—from small tweaks to your budget to better strategies for paying off debt. So grab a notepad and pen (or laptop and keyboard), and jot down some notes—here are some everyday tips to help your situation.
Credit Reports 101
When applying for any loan or cash advance, your FICO credit score is significant. According to USA.gov, your credit report is based on whether your bill payments were late or missed loans that you have paid off, and your current amount of debt. A credit report contains information about where you work and live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy within the past seven years. Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs) gather this information and sell it to creditors, employers, insurers, and others. The three largest CRAs are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
Here are some ways to facelift your overall credit score.
Tip 1: Pay More than the Minimum Payment on Credit Cards
Many people in debt only budget for the minimum payment, which allows the interest to continue to accrue like bread rising in an oven.
To reduce your credit card balance, consider paying more than the minimum payment. That may seem impossible right now, but paying extra, even if it is just a small amount of the principal, can be a beneficial factor for your credit score.a
Tip 2: Pay Your Bills on Time
The idea seems simple enough—but busy schedules, disorganized homes, and the usual chaos of day-to-day life can make the task seem impossible. Aside from setting up automatic payments, try to budget out when you will have the money to pay your bill before the deadline, and set that money aside to make the payment. Set reminders in your smartphone and leave notes in your home where you would frequently see them.
Paying your bills on time shows creditors and lenders that you are reliable, and they won’t have to hunt you down when your payment goes missing. For example, paying your car loan won’t only have the benefit of building a good credit history, but also can help improve your score over time with regular and timely payments.
tips for going from bad to excellent credit
Tip 3: Pay Off Smaller Balances First
When looking at all your outstanding debt, it is common to try and tackle the large balances first since smaller debts are nearly paid off. However, it can be the opposite that is most beneficial for reviving your credit score. Pay off the lower balances first (while continuing to pay the amount due on the more substantial debts). Once the lower scales are done, use that money to add to your larger loan payment.
Since the total number of debt claims you have is also significant to your score, paying off your smaller loans and debts helps to paint you in a more positive light to lenders. It will appear you have fewer obligations and thus are more likely to make reliable payments.