Whether you’re about to apply for a credit card or you’re getting ready to fill out a leasing application for an apartment, your credit score might not currently be where you’d like it to be. Although significantly improving your credit is a long process that can sometimes take a few years, there are things you can do right now to give your score a little bit of boost. Sometimes, a small boost is all you need to put your score into a different bracket, and can mean the difference of your application getting approved or rejected.
Ask for a credit increase
If you’ve been paying all of your credit bills on time and have been keeping your balances fairly low, you may be eligible for a credit increase if you’ve had the account open for a while. If you’re not automatically given a credit increase after six months, ask for one—but don’t actually use it. Keep your spending habits the same and keep those balances low; if you have that higher credit line with a consistently low balance, it can help to improve your credit score.
Piggyback on someone else’s good credit
If you know someone with terrific credit, ask him or her if they would be willing to add you as an authorized user to one of their credit cards. You don’t have to have access to the credit card or make any charges with it—simply being added as an authorized user can help your credit without hurting theirs.
Settle your debt for less
If you have a lot of debt, in addition to past due accounts on your credit report, these are likely the main reasons that your credit score isn’t where you’d like it to be. Although settling overdue debts is one of the best ways to work on your credit, it’s not always financially feasible. However, many creditors are willing to accept what you can afford, and will often settle the debt for less than what you owe. During the negotiation process, be sure to also mention that you want the accounts to reflect as “paid” on your credit report. Otherwise, they might still show as past due accounts and still negatively affect your credit score, even though you’ve settled them.
Check your credit report for errors
Even minor credit report errors can cause your credit score to drop, so if you haven’t been already, be sure to monitor your credit report on a regular basis. If you do notice a mistake on your credit report, take action by disputing it. Once the item is removed from your credit report, you should notice an improvement in your credit score.
Diversify your credit profile
Lenders like seeing that a borrower has different types of credit, and by diversifying your credit profile, you can also potentially see a boost in your score. This means that if you’ve strictly used credit cards since you’ve begun establishing your credit, for instance, consider branching out. Whether it’s an auto loan or a personal loan, mixing up the types of credit you have will usually help improve your score—so long as you’re timely with the payments.
Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.