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by Lyle Daly | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on Jan. 10, 2021
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Want to make a serious change to your credit score in 2021? Here are all the credit-building methods that make the biggest difference.
If your goal is to increase your credit score, that probably means you want to see results quickly. Because let's be honest -- there's nothing exciting about seeing your credit score tick up by a few points.
While improving your credit score is a process, it doesn't always need to be a long one. By following a few tips, you could raise your score by 50 points or more before the end of the year.
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There's no better way to boost your credit score than by getting rid of negative items on your credit report. Some consumers have been able to raise their scores by over 100 points in a matter of months this way.
To start, you need to pull a credit report from each of the consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You're entitled to one free report per year from each bureau, but through April 2021, they're all offering free weekly credit reports.
Look for any negative items, especially late payments and accounts that have gone to collections. If any of these are inaccurate, dispute them with the credit bureau. You can do so by phone or online through the following links:
Your credit card balances play a huge role in your credit score. In particular, it's important to have a low credit utilization ratio. That ratio is your current card balances compared to your credit limits.
The ideal credit utilization ratio is 20% or less. If you have $5,000 in total credit limits, you should aim for a total balance of $1,000 at most.
For an example of how much credit utilization matters, one personal finance writer's credit score fell by 32 points when she went over 50% credit utilization.
If your credit utilization is higher than 20%, put as much of your extra cash as possible toward your credit card debt. Once you pay down those balances, you should see your credit score go up in one or two months.
Paying down balances is the simplest way to lower your credit utilization. There are a couple other options, though. You could consolidate credit card debt with either of the following financial products:
Whichever method you choose, your credit utilization will decrease, which should increase your credit score.
Keep in mind that you still need to work hard on paying off debt even after a balance transfer or loan. Don't make the all-too-common mistake of relaxing and spending more just because you've gotten a lower interest rate for your debt.
Your payment history is the factor that impacts your credit score the most. When you pay credit cards or loans on time, that goes on your credit file and improves your payment history. On the other hand, if you're late by 30 days or more, that goes on your credit file and hurts your payment history.
Now, your credit score probably isn't going to skyrocket just because you made a few payments on time. But it will get better and better as those on-time payments start to add up.
The only way to consistently improve your credit is to pay on time, every time, so make sure you don't miss any payments. You may want to set up auto-pay or payment reminders to help.
Every time you apply for new credit, it can affect your credit score. Here's why:
Neither of those is a big issue, as they won't ruin your credit. However, they can cause a credit score drop. If you're trying to boost your credit score by a large amount, you need to avoid anything that will lower it.
Increasing your credit score by more than 50 points is no small feat, but that's also what makes it such a great goal. If you follow all the above recommendations, your credit score will be on the way up for 2021.
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