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How To Increase Your Credit Score

November 6, 2019

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I'm Tori!

After successfully saving $100,000 at age 25, I quit my corporate job in marketing to fight for your financial rights. I’ve helped over three million badass women make more, spend less, and feel financially confident.

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Increasing Your Credit Score

I don’t know about you, but I graduated college being SO GLAD I was never going to have to worry about my GPA again. 

Except where one door closes, another opens – because GUESS WHAT? Your credit score is your adulting GPA.

It monitors your responsibility as a money borrower and lets lenders assess the amount of risk they will take when loaning you money. You can use your credit score to leverage yourself for loans, credit cards, lower insurance premiums, and even services like cell phone plans or cable bills. Scores typically range from 300-850 points.

The higher score you have, the more reliable you look to lenders when you apply for a new credit card or loan. 

A variety of businesses check credit scores. In addition to applying for a new line of credit, property management companies will usually run a credit check to see if you’d be reliable at making payments on time. This also goes for utility companies such as heat and gas. If you have a low credit score, these businesses may ask for a cosigner to help ensure payment or deny you services altogether. Eek.

There are three major credit score bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each company has a unique formula and your scores will vary between the three. But don’t worry — having up to a 15 point difference between all three credit bureaus is normal. 

It’s best to aim for the highest score possible. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get better interest rates and be approved the amount asked for. It takes time to build up to an 800 credit score, but there are ways to fast-track your score and be eligible for those awesome rates. Here are 4 tips to increase your credit score

1. Pay your bills on time

Making payments on time contributes to about 35% of your credit score. Late payments and accounts severely past due that go to collections can have a significant negative effect on your score and they are not easily removed. 

Try setting up automatic payments with your bank and having loan providers debit directly from your checking account. Setting up automatic payments takes away the hassle of trying to remember due dates and makes sure your payments are within your current budget. 

There will be instances that you won’t be able to pay your monthly dues to financial incapacity, emergency, or even forgetting to pay your bills altogether. I get that. But do EVERYTHING you can to only put expenses you can afford on your card.

Lastly, whenever possible pay your bills in full! I’m dispelling the myth that carrying a balance improves your credit score. The lower your utilization rate (see #3) the better. By having a $0 balance you’re not spending money on high-interest rates and that means more cash in your pocket.

2. Apply for a credit card

The number and the average age of your accounts are both essential factors in helping banks determine how well you handle debt, which can leave those with limited credit history at a disadvantage. 

Be careful about applying for too many credit cards in a short period of time. Many lenders will run a hard inquiry each time that you apply for a new credit account, which will end up on your credit history. Hard inquiries only reduce by a few points but stay on your credit report for up to 2 years! That can add up fast if you apply for several cards at once.  

If you are in the market for a new card (or even your first!) Deserve is an amazing choice. Deserve is not your average credit card. It helps first-time credit users establish credit and uses their unique algorithm to look at the borrower’s whole financial health based on current financial habits in absence of current credit history. They do not require a co-signer which allows new borrowers to keep spending habits private. I wish they had this when I was first establishing credit! I also love that each card has its own set of bonuses that reward users for good spending habits. 

Credit card companies can be predatory. They may try to dupe you into paying interest so they can make money. I love that Deserve is committed to educating you about credit, personal finance, and more — so you can make good decisions that have a lasting impact on your financial life. Now that’s integrity, y’all.


3. Decrease your credit utilization

This is one of the most important (and easiest!) things you can do to increase your score. Since credit reports are based on percentages, a higher credit limit will typically result in lower credit utilization, assuming your expenses remain in the same range. For example, if my credit limit is $1000 and I keep a balance of $200 on the card it means that I am using 20% of my credit. But if my limit increases to $1500, I would only be using 13% of my available credit. Keeping this number under 30% is ideal. Credit utilization makes up about another 30% of your credit score.   

FYI – banks won’t increase your limit if you’re already over the credit limit. Keep in mind that asking for a credit increase doesn’t mean spending more! 

4. Check your credit often

Mistakes on credit reports happen! It’s best practice to keep monthly tabs on your credit. Oftentimes, your bank or credit card (like Deserve!) will keep you updated with your credit score for free so you can keep tabs on how you’re doing.

If you don’t have this option – don’t worry! Every year you are eligible for a free credit report from each credit bureau, which allows you to check for consistency across the board. 

If credit still seems too confusing, try talking to a credit expert. Some employers, banks, and credit companies provide financial education. Deserve not only is a great platform for individuals to establish credit — but they also value credit education for their users. 

It’s okay if you don’t have the best credit right now, or any at all. Credit and good spending habits take time to form. But know that I’m supporting you every step of the way!

Still, having a burning credit question? Contact me or check out the HFK Facebook group where you’ll find a fun community and future financial tips.

This post was sponsored by Deserve, but as always, all opinions are my own. I will never partner with a brand or organization I do not personally use and/or believe in.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.


RESOURCES

I get asked all the time: what are your favorite money management tools?

Treasury: We’re building a one-of-a-kind, non-judgemental community where you can learn exactly how to invest, build wealth, and receive exclusive access to Her First $100K.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: My go-to travel and dining rewards card that I recommend.

Deserve: The card I recommend for building credit. Great for students.

Capitalize: Did you recently switch jobs or launch your own business? Instead of losing money, roll over your old 401(k) into a brand new or existing IRA with Capitalize. They handle all the paperwork for you and for FREE, including calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf, completing paperwork, and sending faxes.

Personal Capital: The tool I check daily, Personal Capital is the best tool for tracking your net worth and your progress towards goals like saving, debt payoff, and (yes!) $100K.

The $100K Club Facebook Group: Need some honest money conversations in your life? Join my free community to get your burning questions answered.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.


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