It takes time and diligence to secure the highest of credit scores -- but that's not to say you can't dramatically improve your credit score in the near term. In fact, some key factors in your credit score can lead to large swings that impact your score in a matter months or even weeks.
In the video below, Motley Fool analysts Michael Douglass and Nathan Hamilton talk about how to improve your credit score fast. If you're carrying credit card debt or chipping away at balances with a balance transfer credit card, then you may want to tune in.
Michael Douglass: All of the advice you see about credit scores online is essentially like, "Do the right thing and then give it a long time." That is, to be clear, good advice, but sometimes you don't have a ton of time. So let's talk about some ways that you can really help boost that credit score fairly quickly. I think the first one is, of course, paying off your credit card debt so you report a zero-dollar balance.
Nathan Hamilton: How that plays in your credit score specifically and how this makes those improvements fast, and if you're not doing it correctly tanks your score fast, is called credit utilization. What this is specifically is just the amount of debt you're carrying divided by your available credit limits. If you are paying down your balances quickly and paying off before the statement date when your issuer reports those balances to the credit scoring bureaus, you are reporting a 0% credit utilization. When you're paying off debt, say you're at 30%, you're able to pay it down quickly over time, your credit score is going to see improvements in the near term. It's not something that needs to bake for 12 months, as in some of the other credit scoring factors.
Why it's important is, payment history is the single biggest factor. It takes a long time for the credit scoring bureaus to essentially crunch the numbers on your payment history and issue some sort of score. It accounts for 35% of your credit score.
Credit utilization is the second-biggest at 30% in terms of your FICO score. If you look at it you're able to pay down debt quickly, report a 0% utilization, and that's going to flow into your credit score in the very near term. Many times within a month or several after that, whereas if you're looking at other factors -- payment history and credit mix and all the other factors -- it just takes time for those to bake.
Douglass: Absolutely. There's only so much you can do in the short term, but these things can at least make a fair difference, and hopefully, again, if you're keeping that good credit hygiene, that long-term, these things will also help pay off.
We've got a lot of other good information about your credit scores and about how to think about debt, how to manage it well, and frankly, the best credit cards of 2017 at fool.com/creditcards. Hop on over there and ask away.
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