Whether you’ve just taken out your first card or your score simply needs a boost, odds are good that you’re looking to build credit fast. The truth is that having a good credit score can open the doors to so many things. For example, when combined with a down payment, a good score could be the key to becoming a homeowner.
With that in mind, below are six tips on how to build up your credit as fast as possible and quickly improve your score.
Check your credit report for errors
If you already have a credit history and want to maximize your score, the first thing to do is to check your credit report for any errors. A mistake on one of your payment and billing statements -- such as a payment that was marked late when you actually made it on time -- could be part of the problem.
Users are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the free credit bureaus. You can request copies of your reports by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. After receiving your copies, you should carefully review them to ensure that all the information is correct.
If you do find an error, you can dispute it by writing a letter to the credit reporting agency to explain the situation. From there, the credit bureaus have 30 days to open an investigation and 90 days to decide whether they need to make a change to your report.
Become an authorized user
If you’re not quite ready for a card of your own, you can ask to become an authorized user on someone else’s account. Authorized users have the ability to use the other person’s card, but don’t have the responsibility of making payments.
Once you’re added to the card, that account’s entire history is factored into your score, so ideally, you’ll want to ask someone who has a solid credit score.
Get a secured card
Once you’re ready to get a card of your own, try for a secured card. A secured card requires a deposit to open it, which is then used as your line of credit. Since the lender holds on to your deposit and there’s no risk that they won’t be paid back, these cards generally have much easier qualifying standards and lower fees than traditional cards that are targeted toward people with poor or limited credit.
Pay your bill in full each month
Believe it or not, your payment history accounts for a whopping 35 percent of your credit score. With that in mind, when your goal is to build your credit score, it’s very important to invest time and energy into making sure you pay your bill in full each month. Additionally, don’t spend more than you know that you can afford to pay back and remember to make your payments on time.
Ask for a higher credit limit
If you’ve been paying your bills on time for a while and slowly working on building your score, another thing to do is ask for a higher credit limit. When your limit goes up and your spending stays the same, your credit utilization goes down. Credit utilization refers to the amount of credit you’re using out of your total credit available. It’s best to try to keep this percentage as low as possible.
Create a better credit mix
There are two types of credit: revolving credit and installment loans. With revolving credit, like credit cards, you can choose how much you pay toward your debts. In contrast, with an installment loan, you have to make the same fixed payment every month. If you have mostly one type of credit, consider getting the other to create a better credit mix.