Improve a Low Credit Score in The Right Way

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Published Tuesday, February 19, 2019
by Feature Staff Special

We all wish there was a quick fix for a plummeting credit score. Unfortunately, this process requires patience, perseverance, and time--you can't improve a low credit score overnight. If you're ready to make a change, consider picking up these financial habits to get you back on track.

Avoid Late Payments

Your payment history contributes to 35% of your credit score, so it's important that you stay current on your late or missed payments. We recommend creating a reminder on your phone so you don't miss a day. It's also imperative that you follow a budget to ensure that you have enough money to cover your credit statement. If you're an over-spender, considering applying for a credit card with a lower limit as to not tempt you to spend beyond your means.

Keep Your Balance Low

One of the main factors to be aware of is your credit utilization ratio, which contributes to 30% of your overall credit score. Your utilization ratio represents the balance for that month over your total available credit. Keeping this ratio low, between 30%-50%, is ideal--this tells lenders that you're not close to maxing out your cards and are able to make necessary payments on time.

For example, say you have a total of $6,000 of credit available on two cards with a balance of $1,000 on both. This means you've used $2,000 of your available $6,000 credit, making your credit utilization ratio 33.3%.

Get Rid of Debt

Every month you'll receive a new utilization ratio based on what you spent. It's important to note that if you have outstanding debt, including any personal loans, your ratio will remain quite high, even if you didn't spend much. If you start making more than the minimum payment each month, not only will you get your debt under control but you'll also significantly increase your credit score.

Manage Your Credit History

The length of your credit history also affects your credit score. Avoid opening multiple new accounts at once; more inquiries tend to signify that you're a higher credit risk, and negatively impacts your credit score. Lenders will view you as an untrustworthy source since brand-new accounts don't have a history attached to them.

However, adding an additional line of credit, such as opening a retail card, can benefit your credit score by diversifying your portfolio.