Improving your credit score substantially takes time and effort, but you can noticeably boost your credit score in under 30 days with four simple strategies. Taking some time to focus on your credit history and personal finances can set you up for excellent continued financial well-being. A higher credit score will open doors to better interest rates, more favorable loan terms on auto loans or personal loans, and higher credit limits on new or existing credit accounts. This article will discuss four simple ways to improve your credit score in the next month.
Written by Attorney Eric Hansen.
Updated September 27, 2021
Improving your credit score substantially takes time and effort, but you can noticeably boost your credit score in under 30 days with four simple strategies. Taking some time to focus on your credit history and personal finances can set you up for excellent continued financial well-being. A higher credit score will open doors to better interest rates, more favorable loan terms on auto loans or personal loans, and higher credit limits on new or existing credit accounts.
This article will discuss four simple ways to improve your credit score in the next month.
1. Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Your credit utilization ratio is a major factor used to determine your FICO credit score. Simply put, this is how much of your available credit card balance you’re using. To calculate your credit utilization ratio, you can divide your credit card debt by your total credit limits. For example, let’s you have two credit cards, each with a $2,000 limit. That means your total credit limit is $4,000. If you owe $500 on one card and $750 on the other, your total debt is $1,250. In this case, your credit utilization ratio would be 62.5% (1,250/4,000 = .625), which is considered high.
The lower your credit utilization ratio, the higher your credit score. Aim to keep your ratio below 30%. A high credit utilization ratio, especially over 50%, will lower your credit score.
Why It Works
Credit card companies report your credit balance and credit limit to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) each month. This often happens on the same day that you’re issued your monthly statement. As the credit bureaus get new information, they use it to calculate and update your credit score. Since the credit bureaus calculate your credit utilization ratio monthly, simply paying down or paying off your credit card debt is one of the fastest ways to improve your credit score.
If you receive a bonus at work or a tax refund, use this one-time cash influx to pay off your credit card debt, if you can afford to do so. This will help reduce your credit utilization ratio and raise your FICO credit score. Also, you don’t have to wait until your statement is issued to make your payment. If you can pay it earlier, that’s often better. If you are able to pay off your balance before your monthly statement is issued, do it. That will help raise your FICO score quickly.
2. Ask for a Credit Limit Increase
If your budget is tight and you can’t make extra payments to pay down your credit card debt, try asking for a credit limit increase from your credit card issuer instead. This is another way to lower your credit utilization ratio and increase your credit score in under 30 days.
If you increase your credit limit but not your spending, you'll be using a lower percentage of your credit balance. For example, say you have a credit card with a limit of $4,000 and your current balance is $2,000. That means your credit utilization ratio is 50%, which is high. If your credit card company agrees to increase your limit to $6,000, your credit utilization ratio would drop from 50% to 33%, which is a lot better. It’s also likely to boost your credit score.
Proceed With Caution
Lenders usually check your credit history before extending new credit. This includes credit limit increases. Before requesting a credit limit increase, you’ll want to figure out if your lender will do a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry on your credit report. You can check your credit card company’s website or speak with a customer service representative to find out if they’ll perform a hard inquiry or a soft inquiry when you request a credit limit increase.
Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit score, but hard inquiries do. What’s the difference? A soft inquiry is a less serious kind of credit check. Pulling your own credit report is a soft inquiry. It also sometimes occurs as part of an employment background check or part of the pre-approval process credit card companies do before making new credit offers.
A hard inquiry typically requires your permission and is done when a person is being seriously considered by a mortgage lender, a credit card issuer, or another financing company, for a line of credit or a refinance. This can decrease your credit score. Too many hard inquiries at once can also be a red flag to lenders that you’re having money problems.
If requesting a higher credit limit only requires a soft inquiry from your lender, then there isn’t really any harm in asking. But if your lender will do a hard inquiry, you should stop to consider the pros and cons.
It’s also important to be aware of your own spending habits before asking for a credit limit increase. If you know that you’ll just spend more and get into more credit card debt with a credit limit increase, you should use other strategies to improve your credit score. But if you feel confident you can increase your credit limit without spending more on your card, it could be a good option for you.
To sum up, if you can’t make extra payments on your credit card debt and you won’t be tempted to spend more, getting a credit limit increase is a good move to lower your credit utilization ratio. If you can make extra payments and get a credit limit increase, you’ll fare even better and can raise your credit score faster.
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3. Become an Authorized User
A third way to raise your FICO credit score in under 30 days is by becoming an authorized user. If you have a trusted friend or a family member that has excellent credit, and they’re willing to help you out, ask if they’ll add you as an authorized user on one of their credit card accounts. As an authorized user, you can use the credit account but you’re not legally or financially responsible for the credit card debt or monthly payments. This comes with pros and cons, so think about these before you act.
The benefits of being an authorized user include:
You can build your credit history faster. By being an authorized user, you piggyback off of the primary account holder’s good credit history. The timely payments, length of credit history, and hopefully low credit utilization ratio of that credit card account will be reflected in your credit reports and help you build your credit.
You may have access to a credit card. While you don’t have to have or use a credit card to benefit from being an authorized user, the primary account holder may agree to let you have a card and make charges. If you have bad credit, you may only qualify for a secured credit card, and putting up the security deposit can be difficult at times. Being an authorized user allows you to have access to a credit card in case of an emergency.
You can get experience with budgeting and managing money. Being an authorized user allows you to budget and manage money in small steps before you open your own lines of credit.
The downsides of being an authorized user include:
It can backfire and negatively impact your credit score. If the primary account holder has several late or missed payments or has a high credit utilization rate on their account, then you as an authorized user will also have that on your credit file. This can decrease your credit score and defeat the purpose of being added as an authorized user. That said, you can ask to be removed as an authorized user if the primary account holder is messing things up.
An authorized user can be removed from a line of credit whenever, for whatever reason. If this happens, the credit history that you were piggybacking off of will no longer be on your credit report.
It can cause fragmented or fractured relationships. Beyond personal finance and credit repair, there is a personal element of being an authorized user. Arguments are often compounded by money issues. If you abuse your authorized user status or get into an argument with the primary account holder, it can have a negative effect on your relationship.
4. Dispute Inaccurate Data on Your Credit Reports
Last but not least, you can improve your credit score in 30 days by disputing inaccurate entries or information on your credit reports. You’ll first want to get your free credit reports. The easiest way to do this is by using AnnualCreditReport.com. This site is authorized by the federal government and allows you to pull your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Once you have your credit reports handy, review them thoroughly. Look for inaccurate, incorrect, or duplicate information on your credit history. For example, if you always make on-time payments but your payment history includes several late payments, you should dispute that and get that corrected. Other times, you might see an account on your credit report that you never applied for or opened. This could be the result of identity theft or a lender’s reporting error.
You should always dispute negative information on your credit reports when it’s inaccurate. But negative information that’s accurate can’t be removed because of federal and state laws. Repossessions, past-due and delinquent accounts, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to seven years. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.
It can take some time — often several billing cycles — to successfully dispute and remove inaccurate negative information from your credit reports. Creditors and credit reporting bureaus have 30-45 days to investigate a dispute letter and five days to respond after that’s complete. But this shouldn’t discourage you from disputing inaccurate items. Start today so you can raise your credit score sooner.
Patience is a virtue. Repairing your credit and substantially increasing your credit score takes time. It can take years to recover from missed payments, foreclosures, repossessions, and charge-offs. The four strategies in this article are a great way to give your credit score a short-term boost, but they won’t work for everyone.
Be wary of credit repair companies that promise amazing results, including a quick, steep increase in your credit score. Many of these companies are scams. Don’t fall for those traps or pay good money on something you can do yourself. And you really can do this yourself. With some time and effort, you’ll see your credit score increase.