I recently got an email from my bank BoA , saying that I could get a free copy of my FICO credit score if I signed up online. I had been thinking about my score recently, as when I applied for a new credit card (CC) in December, they told me my score was only 668. I was running quite a high CC balance but I had never missed a minimum payment or been late with a bill, so I was surprised to see that it was this low.
So, assuming BoA and FICO would find some way of charging me during the “free” process, I apprehensively clicked the link and filled in the forms. Surprisingly, it really was free, and within 5 minutes I was looking at my score. I was amazed to see my score was now 763.
Since I moved into my van and paid down my CC debt, my credit score had jumped 100 points – in 3 months.
The increase had moved me from the high end of a “fair” score to just below the middle of “very good.” What an awesome, unexpected surprise. It just goes to show the power of lowering your rent and dealing with your debt mountain. This got me thinking that there must be ways to get my score even higher, so I started researching and have decided to implement these 5 things to see how high I can get it.
- Pay down balances on your credit cards: According to http://www.bankrate.com “how much revolving credit you have versus how much you’re actually using” is a big factor, and you should try and keep it to a maximum of a 30% ratio. I think this is what did it for me; I had been very excited about paying it down and was making multiple payments a month just to watch my debt drop, which would have kept my ratio super low. So I am going to continue with that strategy.
- Set payment reminders and stick to them: Nearly everyone has a calendar with an alarm on their smart-phone; set up reoccurring reminders for bills, and make those payments.
- Pay your bills on time.
- Don’t keep small balances on multiple cards: Credit agencies also consider how many cards are in use at one time, so getting rid of multiple balances will increase your score and give you fewer payments to manage.
- Keep track of your score: This will allow you to monitor your success and keep track if there are any dips. You can request 1 free copy of your score per year from the 3 main credit agencies if it is not something your bank offers for free. This site explains more: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action. Remember, at least the first report from each of the 3 agencies should be free, so don’t be tricked into paying.
If you have a really bad credit score, due to late payments or collections, there are services that can remove many of these really bad marks and allow your credit score to start moving in the right direction. However these services do come at a cost Lexington Law has a good reputation in the industry and I recommend you check them out if you need this kind of heavy duty service.
Please note the links in the final paragraph, though my honest opinion, are affiliated and by clicking on them and signing up for a service you will benefit this blog, the proceeds of which will go back in to improving the site.