Credit-building loans are a great way to raise your credit score quickly. They work differently than other types of loans. The process is straightforward:
- Apply for the loan. Choose a monthly payment amount that fits easily within your budget.
- Make your monthly payment. Be sure all payments are made on time to take advantage of this strategy.
- Receive the amount you “borrowed.” It’s backward from a traditional loan, where you receive your money first and then make payments.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, if you have no other debt, a credit-building loan could boost your score by 60 points more than someone who has existing debt. But, if you miss payments, you could hurt your score.
How to Avoid Lowering Your Credit Score
Knowing and using strategies to raise your credit score by 100 points fast is great, but you must also know how to avoid damaging your score. Here are some do’s and don’ts for not stepping on your own toes when it comes to your credit score:
Don’t Apply for Too Much New Credit
It can be tempting to apply for new cards that are pre-approved. Fight the urge and:
- Avoid hard inquiries. When a potential creditor pulls your credit report, it’s a hard inquiry.
- Hard inquiries can decrease your credit score. Avoid these when possible and use lenders who conduct soft inquiries.
Keep Your Oldest Accounts
When you open a new account, you may think it’s time to close an older account. There’s no reason to.
- Closing old accounts hurts your score. Instead, keep them open even if you no longer use them. It helps with the length of your credit history, which is a score booster.
- Focus on paying down accounts. Don’t close them when your reach a zero balance.
Steer Clear of Late Payments
Late payments are a credit killer and will lower your score fast.
- Keep track of all your payments. Use a budgeting tool to ensure you’re not forgetting to pay someone.
- Pay attention to small debts. They can be missed if you’re prioritizing paying off a particular debt.
- Sign up for autopay. It will dramatically reduce your number of late payments.
Always Monitor Your Credit
With annualcreditreport.com offering free credit reports every month, there’s no excuse for not monitoring your credit. Other ways you can track your credit are:
- Track your progress. Keep a spreadsheet or graph and watch your score rise. It’s a reward for all of the effort you’re putting in.
- Use free credit monitoring resources. Your credit card issuer or Experian can provide free credit monitoring resources.
- Ask for your score from your credit card company or financial institution. They will often be happy to provide it to you.
- Check your loan statement. Depending on the lender, your score may be there
Keeping an eye on your credit report can be a real motivator and allow you to catch and dispute errors, which will also boost your score.
Identify Any Bad Habits
Do you have any bad habits that have negatively impacted your credit score? These include:
- Making late payments. Letting your bills pile up can lead to late or missed payments. Consider setting your accounts up on autopay to prevent this.
- Maxing out your credit cards. This often points to spending more than you’re making, which is a habit that can lead to a rapid drop in your credit score.
- Applying for a lot of credit in a short period. This can be indicative of impulse buying, another costly and credit-damaging habit.
- Allowing debt to go to collections. Letting debts go to collections can be due to procrastination and avoidance of dealing with a growing debt problem.
You can break some of these habits by using one of the many available free budgeting apps or using plain old paper and pencil to keep track of your finances if that works better for you. Also, consulting with a financial advisor to help you set and keep a budget may be needed.
What Comes After 30 Days?
The month you need to boost your credit score by 100 points will go by quickly. When it’s over, you’ll want to continue raising your score by using some of these long-term credit improvement strategies:
- Build up your emergency fund. Having an emergency fund consisting of 3-6 months of living expenses can help you pay your lenders when something unexpected happens, and you need money to pay your bills and keep your credit score on track.
- Get organized. Keeping all of your bills in one place will help you to make your payments on time, which will continue to boost your score. Schedule time on your calendar each week to review your bills and make payments.
- Pay attention to due dates. You’ll avoid late charges, overdraft fees, and a credit score drop by paying your bills a few days before their due dates. This gives your lender time to process your payments. Allow extra time if you’re sending your payment through the postal service.
- Keep your contact information current. Failing to notify your creditors and lenders of a new address can result in your monthly statements and payment reminders not arriving at your new residence in time for on-time payments, which can send your credit score in the wrong direction.
What Makes the Biggest Impact on Your Credit Score?
Your credit score is a collection of information that is carefully calculated. Each factor counts as a percentage of your overall score:
- Payments history: 35%
- Credit utilization: 30%
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
Each of these factors is important for different reasons:
Payments history: A strong track record of paying on time makes you reliable in the eyes of lenders. Any late payments can negatively impact your score.
Credit utilization: The lower your utilization, the more credit is available to you. Lenders interpret this as good credit management (i.e., you aren’t overspending).
Length of credit history: The longer your history, the more time you have to show your ability to make payments. This is why you want to leave old accounts open.
New credit: Adding new credit can help diversify your credit mix, but adding too many accounts in a short period can hurt your credit.
Credit mix: Different kinds of credit, like credit cards, personal loans (see the FinImpact review), student loans, and mortgage loans, exhibit your ability to handle different kinds of repayment.
Paying close attention to each of these factors is essential to the success of raising your credit score 100 points in 30 days.
The Benefits of Having a Good Credit Score
The benefits of having a good credit score can include everything from lower interest rates to lower insurance premiums and these other benefits:
- Get better rates on car insurance. Some insurance companies may use your credit scores to make decisions when you apply for coverage, including your rates. Many insurers believe that your credit score is a reliable predictor of future behavior.
- Save on other types of insurance. Insurance companies that offer other types of coverage, like home insurance, also check credit scores. Having a good score helps them reward you with lower premiums because they see you as a lower risk.
- Qualify for lower credit card interest. Credit card issuers want people with good credit to apply for their cards because they will very likely pay their bills on time. To attract new cardholders and keep existing ones, they offer their customers with good credit better interest rates.
- Get approved for higher credit limits. Having a good score can not only get you higher limits on your credit cards, but it can also help you get a bigger loan from a bank.
- Have more housing options. Many landlords check credit scores when deciding if they want to rent to an individual. A good score can help you live a better lifestyle by qualifying for a better apartment. It can also help you qualify for a mortgage to live in your dream home.
- Get utility services more easily. When setting up new accounts for utilities like gas and electricity, having a good credit score can prevent you from having to come up with large deposits to get your services started.
- Get a cell phone without prepaying or making a security deposit. Some cell phone companies require a security deposit if you have poor credit. Good credit can help you avoid up-front costs like this.
- Look better to potential employers. As part of their background check, some companies look at your credit reports. A better credit score makes you a more attractive candidate than someone with a history of late payments or bankruptcies.
Tips for dealing with debt and financial challenges
A lower credit score can indicate problems with debt or other financial challenges. Managing your credit score takes time and effort, but you can see from the benefits listed above that it’s well worth it. Here are a few tips to help you tend to troubled finances:
- Create a budget. Without a budget, you’re likely having “too much month left at the end of the money.” A budget helps make sure that you’re not going to spend more than you make by keeping you from overspending or making impulse buys.
- Use a financial advisor. If your physical health isn’t up to par, you go see a doctor. If your financial health is suffering, using a financial advisor can help you organize and manage your finances by helping you honestly evaluate your finances and see where you may be overspending. They can also help you put together a budget you can live with.
- Negotiate with creditors. All your creditors want to do is get paid, and sometimes they’ll accept a lower amount from you if you’ve fallen behind on your payments. You’ll never know unless you ask, and you may be pleasantly surprised when they respond positively to a fair offer.
- Increase your income. Many people who find themselves having financial challenges have side hustles or part-time jobs to supplement their income. This can help you catch up on late payments or build an emergency fund. It doesn’t have to be a permanent arrangement, but it can be an excellent short-term solution.
- Stop taking on new credit. When you’re under financial pressure, it’s not the right time to take on new credit, no matter how much you want it to buy something you have your eye on. Practice good self-discipline and pay down your existing debt before taking on anything new. If you really want something during a tough time, pay cash for it if you can.
Raising your credit score 100 points or more in a month is a lofty yet reachable goal. Of course, your unique financial situation will affect the amount you can increase your score, but you can reach your goals by paying your bills on time, reducing the amount of credit you’re using, applying for a credit-building loan, and keeping a close eye on your credit reports.