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How to Improve Credit Scores - Using FICO Components to Improve Credit Scores

Improve Credit Scores Step-by-Step

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Now that you know all about how the FICO credit score works, let’s look at ways to improve credit scores. The previous page showed you the components of your credit score, and this page shows you how to focus on some of those components.

Improve Credit Scores – Payment History Category

  • Pay on time, no magic secret here
  • If you can’t pay on time, notify your lender that you need to work something out
  • Get current on past due accounts

Improve Credit Scores – Amounts Owed Category

  • Keep low balances relative to your credit limit – 35% or lower is best.
  • Don’t open new accounts just to lower your used credit capacity – having too much capacity is a risk too

Improve Credit Scores – Length of Credit Category

  • Consider keeping old accounts open if you’ve been a good borrower
  • Start building credit as soon as possible

Improve Credit Scores – New Credit Category

  • When shopping for new credit, keep it all within a short time frame such as 14 days or less
  • Borrowers with a bad history can improve credit scores by opening a new account and managing it responsibly

Improve Credit Scores – Types of Credit Category

  • Installment debt (where you pay fixed monthly installments to eliminate the debt) is “better” than revolving debt (open-ended credit card debt)
  • Certain finance company debts (like buying a product with retailer financing) can lower your score
  • A variety of loan types is helpful. They'll know you're a seasoned borrower if you have a mortgage, an auto loan, a few credit cards, and a student loan. If all you have is credit card debt, you'll appear inexperienced

In general, you need to know that it takes time and discipline to improve credit scores. The above rules should become second nature to you. Finally, don’t fall for any promises to improve credit scores overnight (or for a fee). In rare circumstances, you can get legitimate errors removed from your credit reports more quickly than normal - but not true information about mistakes you've made.

The only person who can make a large dent in your credit score is you.

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