5 Ways to Start Improving Your Credit Score TODAY

A great credit score can be the difference between being approved for that car you’ve saved for, that house you’ve looked at, and even that job that you just interviewed for that is now pulling your credit history. If you have a low score, the people who decide whether you are an “attractive” candidate hold the cards. If you, however, have a great credit score, you hold ALL the cards. I learned this when I was buying my first home just three days after my 24th birthday. In the midst of trying to prove to my parents that I was, in fact, a real and financially responsible adult by doubling up on student loan payments and keeping my credit card balance low, I was unknowingly improving my credit score. In fact, during the contract negotiation period of the home buying process, my score improved by 20 points. A great score also came in handy once I moved because the majority of my utility expenses did not need a deposit and I was offered a lower rate. No matter what your score is, it is never too late to start improving it.Credit Score Hacks from the Money, Career, & Lifestyle blog, She Makes Cents | How To Improve Your Credit Score Today

Here are 5 Easy Ways to Boost your Credit Score

  1. First and foremost, it is imperative that you know your score, that way you know where you stand. By law, all US citizens are entitled to one FREE credit history report, but depending on where you live your state may pay for one more.  Georgia residents, for example, are entitled to two FREE credit reports from each reporting agency.   This is a great time to make sure that all the information is correct and give you an overview of where your finances stand.  Related Post: How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
  2. Pay your bills on time. It sounds simple, but I’m going to take a quick flashback to my college days when I was on the dance line of the marching band featured in Drumline. (insert flashback bubble here) To be early is to be ON TIME, to be “on time” is to be LATE, and to be late is UNACCEPTABLE (end flashback bubble…now). The same essentially holds true with how you pay your bills.  The earlier you pay your bill, the better. For one, you are certain that your bill will be received by your service provider way before the date. More importantly, paying your bills as soon as you get them can be a quick but subtle  increase to that credit score. I try to pay all bills within days of receiving my statements and then record the due dates and balance due in my calendar. This allows me a quick glimpse of my monthly financial trends. This is something I recommend to EVERYONE!
  3. Use only one credit card. If you have more than one card, start paying down the card with the smallest balance first by doubling the minimum payment. Once, that card is paid down, move to the card with the second lowest balance. Double the minimum balance and tack on whatever you were applying to the first card, until that card is paid down, and then so on. This, lovely people, is what is called a money snowball.  Next, choose one card to work with, preferably the one with the highest interest rate and take the other ones out of your wallet. Freeze them, cut them up, lock them away but whatever you do, do not close them. Closing a credit card can sink your credit score faster than you can say “She Makes Cents”. Don’t do it, don’t do it, do not do it…
  4. Increase your credit limit. Now that you have worked towards reducing the debt on your existing card, credit card companies should begin to see you as an “attractive” customer. Call your company and request a credit increase. Again, this is not meant for you to start increasing your spending¸ but rather it is an opportunity for you to increase your credit to debt ratio. Can anyone say credit score boost? Related Post:  How The Debt to Credit Ratio Affects Your Credit Score
  5. Pay in Cash. I have said it before and I will say it again. Paying in cash forces you to really consider whether your purchase is right you. Personally, I find that paying for things in cash acts as a visual aid and helps keep me on track with my spending. In swiping a card, I can’t “see” my funds dwindling, but watching your cash go from thick to thin is definitely a sign that you could be mindlessly spending. When you pay in cash, you don’t have to worry about interest rates and hidden charges because Cash is King  QUEEN.


How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

You are on the road to financial empowerment. You have printed out your spending chart. You have cut back on impulse spending. You know at least 5 ways to improve your credit score. The birds are chirping. The sun is shining and you look like you’re the happy little stranger in the middle of a Brady Bunch episode because your latest financial decisions have been uncharacteristically positive. Then is happens…(insert screeching sounds here)… something pops up on your credit history that is inaccurate. What do you do?

What is on Your Credit Report?

Your credit report reveals how you spend, the type of loans you have, your revolving credit, how you pay your bills, etc. This information is then used to decide whether you are approved for a credit card, loan, car purchase, insurance, home purchase and rental, and even employment. For potential employers, your credit report is used as a measure of your level of responsibility and can be a part of the deciding factor of whether you are offered the job or not.

How Credit Report Errors Are Made?

Mistakes can appear on your credit report for several reasons. Clerical errors are common because people make mistakes. Perhaps numbers were transposed, your handwriting was not legible, or the unfortunate situation that you have become a victim of identity theft. Check your credit report periodically for these types of errors.

How to Resolve Reporting Errors for FREE

Contact the credit bureau in writing, highlighting the information to be investigated. You will need to submit supporting documents such as a copy of your driver’s license if the inaccuracy involves a name change, change of address, or dispute of a utility bill. If your dispute is regarding your social security number, you will need to present a copy of your social security card and/or a copy of your W2. If you have your credit report number handy, this is the time to get it. Submit your credit report number and copies (not originals) of documents to be reviewed. The Federal Trade Commission recommends you “send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested,” so you can document what the credit reporting company received. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures. If you used Experian, the fastest way to challenge a dispute is online. Generally, disputes are resolved within 30 days but depending on the nature of the dispute, resolutions can take up to 45 days. If you find information on your credit report that is not accurate or doesn’t belong to you, please contact the credit bureau which produced the report.


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