A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE ARCHIVES

The Single Best Way to Improve Your Credit Scores

August 8th, 2011, byMichelle Singletary

Q: Is there a best and faster way to bring up your credit score to qualify for a housing loan (like paying off items relating to certain things or more recent items)?

Shawna, CA

A: The best way to keep and improve your credit score is to pay your bills on time.

The next best thing is to pay off or pay down any outstanding credit card balances. Using more than 30% of your available credit limit can have a negative affect on your credit scores. So, you can boost your scores by getting rid of your credit card debt, even if you’ve been paying the bill on time every month.

Be sure not to close any accounts, if you have any outstanding balances on any of your cards. Closing an account while you have balances could bring down your score because it impacts your credit utilization ratio. [The ratio is your total credit used compared to your total available credit.]

You definitely want to pull your credit files and make sure all the information is correct. Order all three of your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. You are entitled to a free report from each of the three bureaus every 12 months. When you pull your files and find any inaccuracies, dispute the inaccurate information.

Some lenders might use a service called “rapid rescore” if you have inaccurate information in your files. The information is corrected and your files are updated in just a few days, helping to boost your credit score. This is a fee-based service offered by lenders and will speed up the time it takes to correct information. For example, rapid rescoring could help quickly remove negative debt information that should have dropped from your credit files after seven years. Typically, you would pay $50 for each account that needs to be corrected. But keep in mind, you should go through a lender to get this service. And, this service can’t change bad debt information if it’s correct.

One thing you want to do is stay away from companies guaranteeing they can increase your credit scores. Unless you are working with a lender to correct items, these companies can’t do anything you can’t do for yourself.

Most importantly, many of the things you can do to increase your credit score will take time. But don’t despair. Your credit scores will increase as new positive information is added to your credit files.

Last modified: August 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm