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.
5) Look for Bank Bonuses
Looking for cash in hand instead of tacked on to your credit line? Look for bank bonus deals. Some banks offer cash for opening up a new account with them. Chase Bank has exceptional promotions, offering two different ways to earn money. Option one is opening a Chase Total Checking account. Deposit $25 upon opening the account and set up direct deposit within 60 days and you’ll earn the $200 bonus. If the total of the direct deposit is more than $500 per month then there’s no monthly account fee, either. Chase will deposit your bonus into the account within 10 days of completing the requirements. Chase also has a similar deal when customers open a Chase Savings Account with a total of $10,000. This balance has to remain for 90 days in order to get the $150 bonus. And yes, you can combine these deals to net $350.
6) Research Cash Back Credit Cards
If your credit score allows you to shop around a little bit, do some research on cash back credit cards. This is a tried and true way to earn money, points, or bonuses for your spending. The Capital One Quicksilver card is perfect for those who don’t want to worry about making sure their spending’s fit into certain categories. This card gives customers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, regardless of where you shop or what you buy. Another perk of this card (and way to get cash in your hand) is the $150 bonus awarded if you spend $500 within the first three months of opening the credit card. Lastly, there’s no interest for the first 15 months so making prompt payments and getting that balance down to $0 is even easier. Other cards with similar cash back plans include Discover It Cash Back and Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa.
7) Limit Credit Card Applications
It’s easy to draw the conclusion that the more credit cards you have, the faster you can boost your credit score if you’re paying the balances on time. Don’t fall into this trap! Every time you apply for a credit card – or any credit for that matter (car loan, student loan, etc.), the lender checks your credit report. This “hard” inquiry is reflected on your report. If you apply multiple times, each inquiry is recorded. These “checks” show that you’ve applied for credit and can affect your overall score between 5 and 10 points. This is a small number, but it could make a difference if you sit on the borderline of two credit score levels. This doesn’t mean you can’t apply for credit cards. Just refrain from applying for multiple in a short period of time and avoid the negative consequence of a score reduction.
8) Take a Cash Advance
Did you know that you can borrow against your credit card’s limit? It’s generally not recommended, but if you’re in a pinch and you need cash fast, you can use your credit card at an ATM to withdraw money. The amount you can withdraw depends on the card terms, but it’s typically less than your credit limit. Remember that a credit card cash advance comes with a few drawbacks. It should really only be used in an emergency. First, the interest rate on the money you take is usually high and starts accruing immediately after the withdrawal. Many creditors also charge a 5% fee or more for cash advances, so tack that onto the bill as well. And don’t forget about the fee for using the ATM in the first place. While this is a way to get cash, it should be used as a last resort.
9) Don’t Close Accounts
It’s understandable you may want to close an account once the balance is paid off in order to remove the temptation of using it again. While it may be tempting to cut up a credit card, don’t do it! Keep in open. This may seem counter-intuitive but closing a credit card account reflects poorly on your overall score. Even if your balance is at zero, it’s better for you to keep the account active. Why? Because it will contribute to the “age” of your credit history. The length of your credit history is a factor that goes into your overall score. Usually 5 years is a good average age for a credit history. If you’ve maintained good credit in those 5 years then it will likely be reflected in your score. Keep those accounts open!