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How Can I Raise My Credit Score by 200 Points?

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In a Nutshell

If you aren’t happy with your current credit score, the good news is that you can increase it. But it won’t happen overnight. Whether you’re looking for a short-term boost or have a long-term goal to raise your score by 200 points, you can do it with some patience and persistence. It also helps to know how your credit score is calculated, so you know the best actions to take to reach your goals. Keep reading to learn how you can give your credit score a big boost by changing how you deal with your credit.

Written by the Upsolve Team.  Reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 8, 2021


If you aren’t happy with your current credit score, the good news is that you can increase it. But it won’t happen overnight. Whether you’re looking for a short-term boost or have a long-term goal to raise your score by 200 points, you can do it with some patience and persistence. It also helps to know how your credit score is calculated, so you know the best actions to take to reach your goals. Keep reading to learn how you can give your credit score a big boost by changing how you deal with your credit. 

Understand How Your Credit Score Is Calculated

Credit scores are calculated using a credit scoring model. This is a formula that considers your spending and payment behaviors and credit history. Different companies use different formulas, so you may have several credit scores. They also change as new information is added to your credit report.

Credit Scoring Models

FICO and VantageScore are the two most popular credit scoring companies. Each has many different credit scoring models, which change over time. FICO 8 is currently the most popular scoring model. It’s used by 90% of major lenders. FICO 9 is the newest version. Each credit scoring model considers financial factors slightly differently. Knowing what credit scoring model a company uses can give some insight into what information they will consider. For example:

  • VantageScore doesn’t consider medical debt at all. It does factor in your utilities, cell phone bills, and rent. 

  • FICO 8 factors in medical debt and collections activity, even if the debt has been paid off. It doesn’t include your rental history.

  • FICO 9 just lowered the impact of medical debt on borrowers’ credit scores, and it ignores collection accounts with a $0.00 balance. It also factors in your rental history. 

Credit Scores vs. Credit Reports

A credit score is different from a credit report. A credit score is a number, usually between 300 and 850. It’s like a grade. A credit report lists your credit history. It’s like a transcript. Your credit score is created using the credit history in your credit report. Different factors are weighted differently. In the FICO scoring model:

  • Your payment history accounts for 35% of your score. Each payment, and whether it was on time or late, will be listed on your credit report. 

  • The length of your credit history counts for 15% of your score. Your credit report shows your credit history for at least the last seven years — or up to 10 years if you’ve had a bankruptcy. 

  • The type of credit accounts you have — mortgages, car loans, credit card accounts, and personal loans — will also be listed on your credit report. This is your credit mix, which counts for 10% of your credit score. 

  • The amount of credit you use compared to how much you have available accounts for 30% of your FICO score. This is called your credit utilization ratio. Your available credit line for each account and the amount you owe on each credit account will be on your credit report. 

  • FICO also considers credit inquiries. These will be listed on a separate part of your credit report. It accounts for about 10% of your credit score.

Note that VantageScore weighs these factors differently. 

Why It “Pays” to Pay on Time, All the Time

Your payment history has the biggest impact on your credit score. If you want to do only one thing to improve your credit, start making payments on time. Making payments on time for a long time will give your score a big boost. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score and 32% of your Vantage Score. Late payments will hurt your score by as much. 

The length of your credit history, or how long you’ve had each account, makes up 15% of your FICO score. Old accounts with positive payment histories are better than new accounts with positive payment histories. If you want to improve your score, think twice before you close a long-held account, even if there is a $0.00 balance. 

Credit Ratio and Credit Mix — What Are They and Why Do They Matter?

A credit utilization ratio or rate compares your available credit to the amount of credit you’re using. Credit ratios generally refer to credit cards and revolving credit. FICO and financial experts recommend that you use less than 30% of your available credit. Using less than 10% is highly recommended if you want an excellent credit score. If you want to boost your credit score by 200 points, try not to use more than 10% of your available credit. 

To figure out your credit utilization ratio:

  1. Add up your credit limits from each card. 

  2. Separately add the amount you owe on each credit card. 

  3. Divide the amount you owe (your balance) by your credit limit.

  4. Multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage. 

For example, if you have three cards that each have a $1,000 limit. Your total available credit is $3,000 ($1000 x 3 = $3000). If you have charged $300 on each card, you currently owe $900 ($300 x 3 = $900). So your credit utilization rate would be .3 or 30% ($900 ÷ $3,000 = .3 x 100 = 30%).

While your credit mix matters less than your credit utilization, it still has an impact if you want to increase your credit score. The more diverse your credit mix, the better your score. Generally, a healthy credit mix includes revolving credit and installment loans. Credit cards are the most common type of revolving credit. Revolving credit accounts have credit limits you can reuse. You also have the flexibility to use some or all of your credit limit at once.

In contrast, installment loans give borrowers one lump sum upfront and then they repay it over a set period of time. Common installment loans include car loans, personal loans, student loans, and mortgages.  A borrower with a mortgage, auto loan, and a couple of credit cards will get a credit score boost that someone else with just a couple of credit cards won’t get.

Applying for New Credit Can Temporarily Hurt Your Credit Score

When you submit a new credit application, lenders will do what’s called a hard inquiry of your credit report. These inquiries only account for 10% of your score, but too many credit inquiries in a short time can hurt your credit score. Don’t go on a credit application binge if you’re trying to boost your credit score! FICO gives borrowers a 45 day grace period if they’re shopping around on the same type of loan, like a mortgage for a house or a loan for a car. VantageScore’s grace period is only 14 days.

Review Your Credit Reports

If you want to boost your credit score, you should review your credit report for errors. You can get a free credit report every year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. The government-approved website AnnualCreditReport.com has an online form you can use to request your reports. 

Be sure to compare your reports because not every lender reports to each credit bureau. Each credit report may be different. Review each report for errors, discrepancies, and incorrect information.

Common errors include:

  • Wrong name, address, and phone number — Be sure to check for mixups with ex-spouses and relatives.

  • Wrong account numbers — Make sure numbers match and they are not duplicated or in the wrong order. 

  • Identity theft — Make sure charges and addresses are yours.

  • Incorrect dates — Check payment dates and opening and closing dates. 

  • Incorrect delinquencies — Check for liens, foreclosures, judgments, and bankruptcies that should be removed or that don’t belong to you.

  • Wrong account owner — Confirm you are correctly listed as the owner, co-owner, or authorized user on each account. 

  • Incorrect balance — If a balance looks too high, check your receipts.

  • Incorrect credit limit — Review your credit limit for each credit card.

  • Duplicates — Check to make sure an account isn’t listed twice. 

  • Hidden duplicated — Make sure the same debt doesn’t look like multiple debts. Sometimes debt is incorrectly listed under a creditor and multiple collection agencies.

  • Disputes —Make sure any disputed information has been removed.

Dispute Inaccurate Information on Your Credit Report

If you find errors, you can file a formal dispute with the credit bureau and/or creditor. This will help you repair your credit and raise your score. You can repair your credit yourself or use a credit repair company. But keep in mind these companies can’t do anything for you that you couldn’t do yourself. 

Hiring a company can be expensive and not all of them are reputable. Some credit repair companies will tell you to dispute all negative information, whether it’s accurate or not. Under the law, credit bureaus must report accurate information. If it’s true and negative and follows the laws of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), it must stay on your report. Certain credit repair scams promise to remove everything, but they use illegal tactics to do so. No one can remove accurate negative information that’s legally entitled to be on your credit report. 

Disputing errors on your credit report may help boost your credit in the short term, especially since the company can’t take action while the dispute is pending. But to boost your score by 25% or more, you’ll need some solid debt management habits. 

Take Steps Proven to Promote a Good Credit Score

There’s no big secret to improving your credit score. Once you know the factors involved in calculating your score, you can take action to increase it.

Make Timely Payments and Keep an Eye on Your Credit Utilization Ratio

The first step is better credit is to avoid making late payments. On-time payment is one of the biggest factors in a good credit score. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score, which is the largest factor. Make on-time payments from now on, and you’re bound to improve your credit score. 

The next step is to pay down your revolving credit balances, like your credit cards, to less than 30% of your available credit and keep it there. This will decrease your credit utilization rate. You can also decrease this rate by asking for a credit increase. If you increase your credit limit without increasing your spending, your credit score will improve. Just be sure not to use that extra credit or it could make things worse!

Diversify Your Credit Mix if Your Credit Is Poor

If you have poor credit, you can improve your credit score by diversifying your credit mix. If you’re having trouble getting approved for a traditional credit card or loan, you can get a secured credit card or a credit builder loan. These will help lenders see that you can make on-time payments and manage debt responsibly. 

With a secured credit card, you give the lender money to hold as security, and they give you a credit card to use up to that deposit amount. If you keep making prompt payments, you may be able to get a higher credit limit and a traditional credit card. Keep in mind that these cards often have high interest rates, so make prompt monthly payments and limit your charges to less than 30% of your credit limit.          

A credit builder loan is a tool to establish a good payment history and build credit. With a traditional loan, the borrower is given the lump sum of what they borrowed up front and then they repay the loan over time with interest. With a credit builder loan, you make the payments to build up that lump sum, and then you’re given the loan money at the end. This helps build your credit score — and your savings — because the payments you make are reported to the credit bureaus just like any other loan payment would be. 

Include non-debt payments in your credit file.

Some programs help you add information to your credit history that isn’t traditionally reported. For instance, Experian Boost uses your bank account information to report payments from utilities, your cell phone, and even streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. This adds to your payment history and helps prove you can make on-time payments. Rental Kharma and RentReporters will add your rent payment to your credit file. If you make payments on time, this could help. But if you’re late these options could hurt. 

Maintain a Favorable Credit History

If you want a good, very good, or excellent credit score for the long term, be sure to maintain a favorable credit history. Limit new hard inquiries and keep your older credit card accounts open even if you pay them off. Lots of new hard inquiries will harm your credit score for a while, but models do allow a two-week time frame if you’re comparison shopping for loans like mortgages or auto loans.

You might also consider asking a responsible friend or relative if they’ll add you as an authorized user on their credit card. You don’t have to use the card or even have the card to benefit. If you’re an authorized user, the account holder’s activity will be reported to your credit file. Just be sure they have good credit habits!

Build Credit Habits That Will Benefit Your Credit Health

There’s no magic formula to instantly raise your credit score by 200 points. Time, consistency, and proactive debt management are the keys to success. Significant credit score increases, even dramatic increases, can be made over time. Credit repair and credit score rebuilding take financial discipline, determination, patience, and time. 

Manage Your Debt to the Best of Your Ability

If you can’t manage your debt no matter how disciplined and patient you are, it won’t be easy for you to raise your credit score. A debt management plan, debt consolidation, or bankruptcy could help put you on solid ground to rebuild your credit score. 

Debt Management and Debt Consolidation

Under a debt management plan, you make one manageable monthly payment to the plan’s administrator instead of several smaller monthly payments directly to your creditors. You can talk to a credit counselor at a credit counseling agency to make plan arrangements. The first appointment at a nonprofit credit counseling agency is free. 

Debt consolidation is when you take out a new loan and use the funds to pay off your old loans. Your old debt will be cleared up, but you’re still going to have to pay on the new loan. The key is to make sure the consolidation loan has a lower interest rate. This way, you’ll only have to keep track of one payment, and you’ll pay less over time in interest.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is an option if you have a lot of debt and you don’t see a way out. Bankruptcy can completely clear your unsecured debt, and there’s a good chance you can make payment arrangements to keep your car and house. Bankruptcy will put a big dent in your credit score, but you’ll be able to wipe out your old debt and start over. A bankruptcy attorney can help you learn about your options if you have assets you want to protect. You can file bankruptcy on your own or find an attorney to help. 

Your credit score will temporarily suffer, but once your debt is resolved, you’ll be able to build a more positive credit score. No one can guarantee how much your credit score will go up or down because your credit history and circumstances are unique and change over time. But if you follow the steps we suggested and are consistent over time, you’ll see your credit score rise for the coming months and years. 

Let’s Summarize…

You can raise your credit score by making payments on time, managing your credit utilization ratio and credit mix, and disputing inaccurate information on your credit report. It’s possible to raise your credit score by 200 points with these methods. 

To increase your credit score and build a positive credit history, get your free credit reports every year, dispute inaccurate information, and proactively manage your debt. With time and consistency, your credit score will dramatically improve, and you’ll get that 200 point boost you’ve been looking for. 



Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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