Applying for a loan, getting cash from a bank, or extending the limit on your credit card takes a little bit of work. In order to get banks or credit cards to give you money, you have to show the ability or means to pay it back. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the best and most convincing way is to improve your credit score. While there are several other ways to squeeze cash out of these institutions, this is your best bet and will yield the greatest results. So, how do you raise that credit score so you look financially savvy enough to get the money you want? Read our tips on how to improve that crucial number and get the cash you want.
1) Check Your Credit Report
Many people find mistakes on their credit reports. These discrepancies can be damaging your score and lowering your chances of loan, cash, or credit card approval from financial institutions. There is one way to get a legitimate credit report and that’s through the Federal Trade Commission. You are entitled to one free copy every 12 months under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You can obtain them through their website or over the phone. An individual report is generated from the three main credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The results are three separate reports. Go through each report and make sure all your personal information is correct and that all your account and payment information is accurately reported. If there is a mistake, you should open a dispute with that company or hire a credit counselor to help you.
2) Open a Secured Credit Card
This card is for folks who’ve got bad credit, low credit, or no credit at all. A secured credit card is one of the best ways to establish or re-establish credit and earn the trust of creditors. A secured credit card requires a cash deposit (usually a minimum of $300-$500) that also serves as the credit line for that card. So, if you deposit $300, you can charge up to $300. The key is to make a few small purchases every month and pay it off immediately. Don’t use this card to carry a balance – use it to show you’re financially responsible. The bank may extend the credit line without a cash deposit once they see consistency on good payments. Make sure the card issuer is reporting your good payments to the credit bureaus. This is how you’ll build your credit reputation and become eligible for an unsecured credit card.
3) Get a Credit Card
If you used a secured credit card to build credit, the next step is opening an unsecured credit card. These are the cards that give credit without a collateral cash deposit. The amount of your credit line will be based on your income, your credit history, limits on other cards, and several other factors. Some credit cards have a set limit that all their customers receive. It depends on the card. Regardless of the limit, the important part is making timely payments on your card. A history of late payments can hurt your credit score. The best way to do this is to keep the balance low and try to pay it off completely every month. Doing this will build your score. If the balance is too much to pay off every month then try to make more than the required minimum payment – doing this also boosts your score.
4) Watch the Credit Utilization Ratio
Just because you have a high credit line doesn’t mean you should use it. Of course, it’s there if you need to make a big purchase, but just make sure you’re able to pay it off quickly. Keeping the card balance below 30% of the credit line majorly helps improve your score. For example, if your limit is $1,000, try to keep your balance at $300 or less. Even if you’re paying off your minimum payment in full and on time, it’s still hurting your score. Why? Because it’s your balance that’s being reported to the credit bureaus and high balances hurt your score. If you know the charge is going to exceed that 30% mark, consider pre-paying some of the cost to avoid that high charge. Also consider that keeping those utilization rates below 10% will actually improve your score.