Are you looking to increase your credit score? Here are the best tips on how to raise your credit score by 200 points. Let’s begin!
1. Know what your current credit score is
If you want to raise your credit score by 200 points, the first thing you should do is to get to know your credit score.
What is a credit score?
A credit score range is between 300 and 850. It is designed to represent your credit risk, or how likely you will pay your bills on time.
To calculate your credit scores, the credit bureaus use many different factors. The 5 key factors in the credit scoring model are:
- Payment history (35%)
- Credit utilization ratio (30%)
- Length of your credit history (15%)
- Credit mix (10%)
- New credit inquiries (10%)
You can read more about credit scores in my other blog post here.
Higher scores mean you have demonstrated responsible credit behaviour in the past, which may make potential lenders and creditors more confident when evaluating a credit request.
Having a good credit score is critically important in our personal finance journey. Having lower credit scores may mean that it is more difficult for you to borrow money. Whether you are looking to apply for a mortgage for your first home, loans to start your business, or a credit card without a deposit, you will most likely need a good credit score to demonstrate to the lenders (credit card lenders, loan lenders, mortgage lenders, etc.) that you will be able to pay the debts back. Therefore, you want to improve your credit score as much as possible.
Where to get your credit score?
Here are two ways to get your credit report.
If you want to monitor your credit score, MyFICO is the way to go.
myFICO is the official consumer division of FICO, the company that invented the FICO credit score. FICO® Scores are the most widely used credit scores, and have been an industry standard for more than 25 years. In fact, more than 90% of top lenders use FICO® Scores. Sign up for MyFICO here and easily get access to credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, and more!
If you are in Canada, you should try Borrowell instead. In under 3 minutes, you can easily join over a million Canadians and get the tools you need to help understand, manage and master your credit.
2. Use a secured credit card
The next tip on how to improve your credit score is to use a secured credit card. Other than requiring a cash security deposit, a secured credit card works just like a traditional credit card. Thanks to the deposit that protects the issuers of these cards from losing money, they are easier for people to qualify for, and are perfect for people looking to improve their credit scores or build a credit history.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® credit card
OpenSky® Secured Visa® credit card is one such card. It is a full-featured credit card with a revolving credit line based on a refundable security deposit. You can choose your deposit from as low as $200 to $3000. The card reports to all three credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian® and TransUnion® ), so you can improve your credit score to help establish or re-establish new credit history.
Here are some key benefits to this secured credit card:
- No credit history or minimum credit score required for approval
- Quick and complete online application; no credit inquiry required!
- Monthly reporting to all three major credit bureaus to establish credit history
- Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-3000 submitted with the application
The card is good for car rental, hotels, groceries, anywhere credit cards are accepted!
Group One Freedom Platinum Card
Group One Freedom Platinum Card is another credit card intended for people with less than perfect credit. The company doesn’t check your credit report, so even if you have bad credit or no credit history at all, you are still eligible to receive up to a credit line of up to $750 with Group One Platinum.
3. Use a credit card with a more lenient approval policy
How can you raise your credit score by 200 points when you don’t have an established history to get a credit card? Other than secured credit cards like the OpenSky® Secured Visa® credit card mentioned above, credit cards with a more lenient acceptance policy can be your answer.
Evolve card is one that stood out to me during my research. No application is denied because of bad or limited credit history. You can get a $1,000 credit line when you apply.
Key features of the Evolve card are the following:
- It is designed for people with little to no credit
- No monthly fees
- $1,000 credit line
- 0% financing when purchasing products through Evolve’s online store
- 24/7 roadside assistance, legal assistance, and daily discount offers.
4. Dispute incorrect items on your credit report
What to do after you receive your credit report free of charge from either Credit Sesame or Borrowell? You want to look at it, obviously.
Your attention will probably first be drawn to the specific number that indicates your credit score. However, your score report gives you much more information than that. You will also see all the line items that impact your credit score.
If you spot any mistakes or fraudulent information, you will want to correct them. Identify theft is more common than you think. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced it received more than 125,000 complaints about credit report errors in 2018 alone.
By law, you are allowed to dispute credit report errors, and there is no fee for filing a dispute.
You may submit your dispute to the business that provided the information to the credit reporting agencies and/or to the agency that included the information on your credit report. In either case, you will be notified of the decision after the investigation is complete.
5. Get help from a credit repair expert
If you need some support disputing inaccurate information, or if you are looking for additional help fixing your credit score, you may want to reach out to a credit repair expert. You can either find credit repair companies, or you can use an online platform like Credit Versio.
The Credit Versio platform gives you the tools to quickly and easily create dispute letters that are more effective than the most premium credit repair services available. Their software takes your 3 bureau credit reports and converts them into an actionable interface with all the tools necessary to really see significant results and improvements.
With Credit Versio, you do need to pay for your credit monitoring subscription at $19.95/month. However, you will no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars that you would typically have to pay for a credit repair service.
6. Keep old credit cards that you already have
Although less is often better than more, if you already have opened multiple credit cards, do not close them. This is because a key determinant for a good credit score is low utilization.
Here’s an example:
Suppose you have three credit cards, each with a $2000 credit limit. You regularly use $1000 a month. Your credit utilization ratio is calculated as:
1000/(2000 x 3) = 16.7%
If you close one credit card, your utilization ratio becomes:
1000/(2000×2) = 25%
Because we want to keep our credit utilization rate as low as possible, in this instance, having three cards on hand is better than having just two.
Of course, the above scenario is based on the assumption that you keep your spending constant at $1000 regardless of how many cards you have. If you find it’s too much of a temptation to keep multiple credit cards, then go ahead the cancel the ones you do not use!
7. Get more credit cards
Other than keeping your existing cards, you can also open more credit cards to decrease your utilization ratio. Of course, this is a good strategy only if you are disciplined enough not to use the new credit cards you get!
8. Pay down your credit card balances from high to low
This one is a no-brainer if you are looking to improve your credit score by 200 points. You want to pay down your credit card balances, starting with the ones that charge the highest interests until you can pay off the ones with a lower interest rate.
The benefits for paying down your credit card debt are multi-fold:
- You do not need to pay as much interest on the money borrowed
- You can decrease your credit utilization ratio, which will help with your credit score
- Once you pay off the balance on your high-interest credit cards, you can use the money towards paying down your lower-interest debt with a method known as the debt snowball.
You should always aim for paying off the full balance of your credit card every month instead of just the minimum payment.
9. Always make credit card payments on time
This tip goes hand in hand with paying down your credit card balance. Even if you can’t pay the full balance each month (you should really avoid this as much as possible), you should still make on-time payments as much as you can. This helps demonstrate to the credit bureaus that you are staying on top of your finances, and can help improve your credit score.
Never fall behind on your payments, whether it is credit card payment or loan payment. You do not want the credit bureaus to see that you have a poor payment history. Your payment history makes up about 35% of your FICO credit score, so you want to make sure that you have an excellent record.
Of course, it is still better to make late payments than not paying at all, but you should avoid it at all costs.
11. Use multiple types of credit
In addition to knowing that you are using your credit cards and paying off the balances on time each month, the creditors also want to see that you can manage different types of credit.
Credit cards are considered revolving credit accounts. This is easy to understand: you have a credit limit (the total available credit on the card is fixed), and, if you pay the balance down, your credit is refilled. It is “revolving” because you can use the cards again and again.
On the other hand, we also have non-revolving credit lines. You can only use these once. As soon as you pay off a non-revolving account, your lender closes your account. Personal loans, mortgage loans, auto loans, and student loans are all examples of non-revolving credit types.
10. Get a credit builder loan
What are credit builder loans? They are small, low-interest personal loans that help you improve your score. If you are looking to improve your credit score, I recommend that you look for one with no hard credit inquiry.
With some lenders, you’ll get a sum in cash and can spend that money on almost anything. You then pay back the loan and interest with monthly payments. Your loan provider reports the payments to the credit reporting bureau. As long as you don’t fall behind, your score is likely to go up.
To raise your credit by 200 points, it might take several months of monitoring and building your credit profile. It is a slow but steady process, so don’t give up until you see results!
How long does it take to increase your credit score?
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer on how long it will take you to increase your credit score. This is because it could depend on a variety of factors, such as the length of time you’ve had credit, your existing credit score, and the nature of the events that negatively impacted your credit score in the past. After all, it will be easier to raise your credit score after a 30-day late payment than a bankruptcy.
I did, however, found a nice chart below from Bankrate that shows the average credit score recovery time for several common events:
|Event||Average credit score recovery time|
|Home foreclosure||3 years|
|Missed/defaulted payment||18 months|
|Late mortgage payment (30 to 90 days)||9 months|
|Closing credit card account||3 months|
|Maxed credit card accounts||3 months|
|Applying for a new credit card||3 months|
Keep in mind, however, that the numbers are merely averages, and building credit does take time. However, I am sure that if you diligently follow the tips above, you can certainly raise your credit score 200 points in the foreseeable future!