A Better Beach Read: 5 Tips to Improve Your Credit
Ah, the joys of summer: grilling in the backyard, watching the world burn in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, and, of course, the beach. It’s the time of year to kick back, put your feet up, and chill the heck out. But if you’re dealing with financial troubles, you might have a hard time relaxing.
Those high credit card payments, past due bills, and denied loan applications can loom over you like a storm cloud. Rather than wallow in doom and gloom, why not tackle those financial problems head on? We’ll even help you out by giving you this simple piece of advice: focus on your credit score. Now might be the time to set aside that light-and-fluffy beach read and check out these five tips for repairing your credit.
Get a Copy of Your Credit Report
Before you can fix your credit score, you have to know what’s in your credit report. It’s what your credit score is based on, and it tracks your history of credit-use over the past seven years.
A copy of your credit report will help you see what exactly is dragging your score down into the dumps. Plus, credit reports aren’t perfect; some will contain errors. If you find an error on your credit report, you can contact the appropriate credit bureau—Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax—to get it corrected. Learn more in the blog Grading Your Credit Score.
Under federal law, each credit bureau is required to provide you one free credit report per year—but only if you request it. To order a free copy of your credit report, visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Get Current and Stay Current
This is a two-parter that includes your ongoing bills and your outstanding collection notices.
If you have any outstanding collection notices, you’ll want to get them taken care of ASAP. A closed collection will still show up on your credit report for up to seven years, but it’s much better than an open one.
If you have trouble paying your bills on time, try setting reminders or setting certain bills to auto pay. Paying bills on time is one of the easiest steps you can take towards improving your credit while paying bills late is one of the easiest ways to hurt it.
Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
Easier said than done, right? Still, if you’re looking for ways to boost your credit score, focusing on paying down your credit card debt is a great way to go. Having high amounts of credit card debt can really hurt your score. The sooner you can lower those balances, the better.
How exactly are you going to do this? Well, it’s probably going to require some belt-tightening. If you already have a household budget, then give it an honest look and see where you can cut back. If you don’t have a budget: create one. There are a ton of great apps available that make budgeting easier than it’s ever been. Find money where you can and use it to pay off your cards. You might even try increasing your income through a side gig or selling unused valuables.
Keep Old Accounts Open, Don’t Open New Ones
One measure used to determine your credit score is how much of your available credit you’re actually using. If you have a credit card with $5,000 limit and you’ve only used $2,000, that’s seen as more responsible than having a card with a $2,000 limit that you’ve maxed out.
Once you’ve paid off your old credit cards, you might be tempted to close out the accounts. Don’t! Keep the accounts open and don’t use them. This will help your credit score.
On the other hand, if you’re thinking of opening up a bunch of new cards to take advantage of the extra unused credit, we advise against that. Recent credit inquiries are one of the factors on your score. A bunch of new credit lines could result in your credit score going down.
There is no one-and-done solution for fixing your credit score. It’s not going to shoot up 100 points overnight. So take a deep breath, settle in, and prepare yourself mentally for the long game. Even if you start making more informed decisions today, it could take up to seven years for your previous not-so-good choices to stop affecting your score.
In the meantime, as long as you’re checking your credit report, making payments on time, paying down your credit card debt, and using less credit than what you have available, you are well on the road to a higher score and sunny financial future.
At OppLoans, we help improve our customers credit scores by reporting their on-time payments to credit bureaus. Taking out a safe, lower-interest, personal loan with OppLoans is one action you can take now to get started on the road to financial recovery. Click “Apply Online” below to get started today.
Now that you’re on your way to improved credit, go ahead and unwind at the beach! You’ve earned it.