A good credit score can help you build a solid financial base, as it offers access to lower interest rates and the best loan and credit card options.
Building your credit score usually takes time and planning, but there are a few ways you can boost your credit score quickly. In this guide, we’ll show how to improve your credit score in 30 days. But first, let’s look at which credit scoring model to focus on.
Focus on FICO Score
There are many credit scoring models, but 90% of lenders use your FICO Score when deciding whether to approve or decline your credit application. When a lender speaks about your credit score, they’re most likely referring to your FICO Score. Since most lenders focus on your FICO Score, our tips below center on improving it.
How to improve credit score in 30 days
Making significant improvements to your credit score typically takes months and years. But you can make smaller, positive changes in 30 days with these quick credit-building tips.
1. Avoid late payments
Part of improving your credit score in 30 days is maintaining any positive trends you already have. Because your payment history comprises 35% of your FICO Score, on-time payments for your existing car loans, student loans, credit cards and other debt is essential.
Make all your monthly payments by the due date — you’ll avoid late fees and a potential credit score downgrade. A creditor can report any payment made more than 30 days after the due date as a late payment to the credit bureaus.
Just one late payment can drag your good or excellent credit score to a fair or poor credit score. Plus, a late payment can remain on your credit report for seven years.
2. Limit new credit accounts
With each new credit account comes a hard inquiry on your credit report, reducing your credit score by up to five points.
New credit can also impact your length of credit history, which makes up 15% of your FICO Score. Your length of credit history considers how long your credit accounts have been open, the age of your newest and oldest accounts and how long it’s been since you’ve used your accounts.
The older the average credit account, the better — but new accounts can lower this average. There are exceptions to this rule, which we’ll get to later.
3. Pull your credit report from all three credit bureaus
To improve your credit score, you must know what’s on your credit report. To get this information, obtain your credit report from all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Transunion.
You can get up to six free Equifax credit reports per year with a free myEquifax account. To get a free Experian credit report, you can create an account on Experian.com. Transunion doesn’t offer a free credit report through its website.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free credit report every 12 months from each credit bureau, including Transunion, at AnnualCreditReport.com.
To get all three credit reports in one shot, use AnnualCreditReport.com instead of bouncing between several sites.
Unlike the hard inquiries associated with new credit, checking your credit score doesn’t hurt it.
4. Dispute errors on your credit report
Go through your credit history on all three credit reports. If you find any inaccurate negative information, you can attempt to have it removed by filing a dispute.
When filing a dispute, include any records you have to prove the negative mark is incorrect. Doing so will bolster your chances of winning the dispute.
Once you file a dispute, the creditor has 30 days — 21 days for Maine residents — to prove the information is accurate. If the creditor can’t provide proof within 30 days or offers insufficient evidence, the credit bureau will remove the information from your credit report, which may boost your credit score.
5. Negotiate and settle collection accounts
Collection accounts are past-due credit accounts that a creditor sends to a collection agency. These collections accounts appear on your credit report and can lower your credit score by hundreds of points. Paying them off will boost your score. However, make sure to negotiate the best deals possible before sending debt collectors any payments.
Find the contact information for all your collection accounts on your credit report. If the company’s phone number isn’t on your credit report, search for it online.
Contact the debt collector by phone, but be sure to block your phone number by dialing “*67” before the agency’s phone number. If you don’t block your number and can’t negotiate a settlement, you may start receiving debt collection calls.
Tell the debt collection agent you want to negotiate a settlement for your unpaid debt. The agent will tell you whether they can offer a lower-cost settlement.
Once you agree on a settlement amount, request a pay-for-delete agreement, which deletes the collection account from your report once you pay it off. Without a pay-for-delete agreement, a paid-off collection account will remain on your credit report for up to seven years and continue to hurt your credit score.
If the collection agency agrees to a pay-for-delete deal, you may see your credit score increase within 30 days of paying off the collection account. For best results, start with the newest collection account, as these have the most significant impact on your credit score.
Always get a settlement agreement in writing before paying the collection account. Verbal agreements are generally insufficient to prove breach of contract if the collection agency doesn’t fulfill its part of the deal.
If the collection agency doesn’t agree to a pay-for-delete arrangement, paying it off won’t help your credit score. Simply end the negotiations and leave the account unpaid.
6. Pay off or consolidate high-balance credit cards
Your credit utilization ratio, which is your total credit card balances divided by the credit limit on your credit cards, accounts for 30% of your FICO Score. If your credit utilization ratio is more than 30%, it may negatively impact your credit score.
If you can make lump-sum payments and bring your overall credit utilization rate below 30%, you might boost your credit score within 30 days.
If you’re unable to make large payments, a debt consolidation loan may help. A debt consolidation loan is a personal loan you use to pay off credit card debts. If you’re approved for a consolidation loan large enough to bring your credit utilization ratio under 30%, you may see a credit score increase in 30 days.
The reasons debt consolidation loans help are twofold:
- A personal loan doesn’t count against your credit utilization ratio
- A personal loan is an installment credit, which FICO views more favorably than revolving credit, like a credit card
Opening a debt consolidation loan will add a new credit account to your credit report and potentially shorten your credit history. However, the positive impact of improving your credit utilization ratio will likely outweigh the negative of adding a new account and new credit inquiry.
If your credit report is filled mostly with credit cards and other revolving debt, adding a personal loan brings in a new type of credit — installment credit — and may improve your credit mix. Your credit mix accounts for 10% of your FICO Score.
7. Request credit limit increases
Another way to improve your credit score is to increase the credit limit on your credit cards. Doing so decreases your credit utilization ratio. Some credit card companies let you request a credit limit increase through their website or mobile app. If that’s not an option, contact the company via the credit card’s customer service number.
Once you reach the credit card issuer, explain that you’d like to increase your credit limit. The representative may request updated salary information and your Social Security number.
The process should take only a few minutes. If you get approved for enough credit limit increases to reduce your credit utilization ratio, you may improve your credit score in 30 days.
8. Become an authorized user
As an authorized user, you’re given access to another person’s credit card account and typically receive a credit card in your name that’s tied to that account.
You can use the credit card as you would your own, but you can’t access sensitive parts of the account, like the primary cardholder’s Social Security number, address or income. You also can’t change the terms on the account or request a credit limit increase.
Being an authorized user can increase your credit score quickly because the established credit account will appear on your credit report. Having this good-standing credit card account on your credit report may give you a credit score boost in 30 days.
Remember that your credit score may also decrease if the primary cardholder goes above the 30% credit utilization ratio or misses a payment. Make sure to become an authorized user on an account held by a financially responsible person.
Small or large, any credit score improvement is good
Good credit is an essential building block of financial health. However, big credit score improvements can take months or even years. If you need a quick boost and are wondering how to improve your credit score in 30 days, there are simple steps you can take, including:
- Disputing errors
- Negotiating settlements
- Debt consolidation
- Increasing credit limits
- Becoming an authorized user
These credit score improvements may not be huge, but they’re meaningful stepping stones when building credit. Plus, they can motivate you to stay on the path toward excellent credit.