May 17, 2022

How to Increase Your Credit Score

Poor credit score? You have plenty of options to get it back in good standing. Find out 10 quick ways to give your score a boost.

Your credit score is one of the most important measures of your financial health.

But don't worry: If your score is lower than you want, you still have options.

In this guide, review the 10 ideas below for giving your credit score a quick boost. Plus, learn which factors affect your credit score to keep it in good shape.

10 Fastest Ways to Improve Credit Score

Low credit score? Here are 10 simple ways to improve it fast.

  1. Check your credit report
    The first step to improving your credit score is to check your existing credit report. You can access your reports from all three credit bureaus for free once per year from or from services like Discover Credit Scorecard and Credit Karma.

    Your credit report will show you all your payment history, open accounts, how much you owe, the age of your credit, and more. Use this information to determine which methods can help you achieve the greatest score increase.

  2. Dispute errors on your report
    One of the fastest ways to significantly improve your credit score is to get errors removed from your report.[1][2]

  3. Pay off delinquent debt
    Any debt that has gone into collections will have a severe negative impact on your credit score. If your score is below the "Good" classification, you may have at least one account in collections. Paying this off will quickly increase your score.

  4. Request a credit limit increase
    Credit utilization has a significant impact on your score. As a result, raising your credit limit (while keeping your spending the same) will lower your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your score will improve.

  5. Become an authorized user
    One of the fastest ways to raise your credit score is to become an authorized user on another person's credit card. When you become an authorized user, the entire history of that account is added to your report.

    This can be accomplished in one of two ways:

    • Purchase a "user tradeline" from an online marketplace like This will allow you to filter tradelines based on credit age, credit limit, etc. - but will cost you money.
    • Ask a friend or family member if they will add you as an authorized user on one of their accounts. This method is free, but requires a significant amount of mutual trust.

  6. Pay down overall debt
    Reducing the total amount of money you owe can slowly improve your score over time. This can be accomplished simply by making on-time payments every month for all of your outstanding accounts.

  7. Set up AutoPay
    Payment history makes up the biggest percentage of your FICO score, so making on-time payments every month is an absolute must if you want to improve your credit score.

    Setting up AutoPay for recurring payments like rent, utilities, cell phone bills, and car payments will ensure that you never miss a payment.

  8. Limit hard inquiries
    Credit inquiries happen any time you apply for financing or apply for something like an apartment rental application. Try to limit the number of hard inquiries on your credit report to one per year.

    Hard inquiries will typically stay on your credit report for two years, but will only affect your credit score for a few months to one year.

  9. Keep credit utilization below 30%
    Ideally, you pay your credit card balance in full each month to avoid paying too much interest. If you can't manage that, just try getting your credit utilization ratio below 30%. This will still have a positive impact on your score.

  10. Use a credit builder loan or app
    Credit builder loans and apps are financial products designed to help people with very bad or no credit build their score. Shop around for the best credit builder apps or the best credit builder loans to find the product most suited to your needs.

Factors that Influence Your Credit Score

FICO scores are calculated using the following formula:[3]

  • Payment History (35%): The most important part of your credit score, payment history evaluates your percentage of on-time vs. late payments as well as delinquent remarks like bankruptcy and accounts in collection.

  • Amounts Owed (30%): The second-largest consideration is how much you owe in different types of credit accounts. This includes the "credit utilization ratio," which calculates your credit card balance compared to your limit.

  • Credit Length (15%): This refers to how old your existing credit accounts are. Older accounts are generally considered better because frequently opening new credit accounts suggests financial instability.

  • Credit Mix (10%): This means having several different kinds of debt, such as credit cards, car loans, and student loans. Having a variety of credit types tells lenders you are capable of handling different kinds of debt.

  • New Credit (10%): An evaluation of how often you apply for new credit lines (called hard credit inquiries) over the previous 12 months.

How to Maintain a Healthy Credit Score

Follow these tips to maintain your new and improved credit score over the long term.

Leave accounts open
If you pay off a revolving line of credit (such as a credit card), leave the account open instead of closing it. Closing old accounts will reduce your total credit age, and as a result, your score.

Only buy what you can afford
A good rule of thumb is to only purchase things you could afford in cash. If you can't afford an item by paying for it on your debit card, you probably can't afford that plus the interest it would accrue on a credit card.

Of course, there are some notable exceptions to this rule, such as buying a house.

Be patient
You won't improve your credit score overnight. But with sustained effort, people with bad credit can reach Very Good or even Excellent FICO scores in less than five years. The most important part of building a great credit report is consistency.

What is a Credit Score?

In the United States, a credit score is a measure of how financially reliable you are to prospective lenders. These scores are usually based on the FICO system and can range between 300 and 850.[4]

The higher your score, the better. FICO credit score ranges vary slightly depending on who you ask, but this system is the most common:

  • Poor: 300–579
  • Fair: 580–669
  • Good: 670–739
  • Very Good: 740–799
  • Excellent: 800+

The FICO system was originally named for the Fair, Isaac and Company data analytics firm that created it in 1958 (today named the Fair Isaac Corporation).

Situations When Your Credit Score Matters

Your score impacts your interest rate on loans and credit cards, the fees and deposits you have to pay, and your chances of getting a loan. All else being equal, you will pay less money and get better rewards if you have a good credit score.

Here are six situations where your credit score is often taken into consideration:

  • Purchasing a home
  • Buying or leasing a car
  • Renting an apartment
  • Applying for a credit card
  • Requesting a business loan
  • Applying for a job

The Bottom Line

There are numerous ways you can improve your credit score over time. The first step is obtaining a copy of your credit report to determine the best plan of attack.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you will be well on your way to achieving a great score.


  1. ^ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. How do I dispute an error on my credit report?, Retrieved 5/3/2022
  2. ^ FTC Consumer Advice. Disputing Errors On Your Credit Reports, Retrieved 5/3/2022
  3. ^ myFICO. What's in my FICO Scores?, Retrieved 5/3/2022
  4. ^ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. What is a FICO score?, Retrieved 5/3/2022

Write to Justin Barnard at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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