The 20 Best Ways to Improve Your Credit in 2020
A new year is the best time for a fresh start and to set goals for improvements you want to make in your life, and for many of us, that involves our credit scores or extra cashflow for changes we want to make in our lives.
Not only is it simply just a good idea to do your best to keep your credit score looking healthy, but it’s the only way you’ll get good offers for personal loans or other types of credit further into the year. Without a good credit score, life can be a struggle. You won’t have access to emergency funds, you can’t consolidate debt to save money on the interest you’re paying, medical bills can more expensive, and in worst-case scenarios, you may struggle to find somewhere to live.
Fortunately, the situation is rarely that dire, and there are plenty of things you can be doing in 2020 to improve your credit score substantially. Here is our list of 20 things you can (and should!) be doing in 2020 to improve your credit score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #1: Look at Your Credit Score
You can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken, but we all have a tendency to put our fingers in our ears and ignore problems when it comes to money, especially when it’s not looking good. However, that’s exactly the time when we need to be paying extra attention to what’s going on, so your first step should be to look at your credit score and know how it looks. Go to Free Credit Reportand look at your report.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #2: Fix Errors
If you’re new to credit scores, you may be surprised to learn that sometimes you’ll get errors in your record that harm your score. When you look at you report see what’s flagged by the site you’re using, and check that all the points are valid. If something’s wrong, contact the company to put it right. You don’t have to live with false marks against you.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #3: Pay Bills Automatically
If you’re still sending payments manually for your bills, it’s time to set up automated payments or get really good at paying them on time. Even one missed or late payment on a credit card or a utility bill (that includes your cell phone). Set up automatic payments or a specific day and time where you’ll pay all your bills that you stick to religiously.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #4: Pay Down Debt
Have you heard of the term “credit utilization”? Essentially, it’s how much debt you actually have out of how much debt you could have. For example, if you have a credit card with $10,000 of credit, and you have $1,000 of debt on the card, your utilization would be 10%. Your utilization includes all debt you have. The lower your utilization, the better your score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #5: Don’t Apply for Credit Unnecessarily
The people stood in stores trying to get you to sign up for a store credit card for 10% of your shopping are not helping you. In most cases, doing something like that is only going to harm your score, especially if you want to apply for a personal loan later in the year. Applying for credit frequently shows you are fickle with your credit and will harm your score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #6: Don’t Close Lines of Credit
If you have a credit card you no longer use, just let it exist, but pretend it doesn’t. That open line of credit improves your credit utilization and makes you look more attractive to other potential lenders. This doesn’t apply if there are annual fees – just close those because the fees aren’t worth it.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #7: If You Have Little History, Get a Credit Card
If you want to take out a personal loan for something in the future, but you’ve never had a credit card or loan before, it’s a good idea to take out a credit card early in the year and start using it. Now, this does not mean go on a spree and let the debt sit there – instead pick an expense (like food or fuel), put it on the card, and pay it off each month. This will get you some vital credit history.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #8: Apply for Credit Strategically
Never apply for new lines of credit without a good reason for doing so. As tempting as it sometimes is, never open a new line of credit in a panic. If you think you need an emergency credit card, apply for that when you don’t need it and keep it for when you do. If you know you want to do home renovations with a personal loan, don’t apply for credit until you need it, and spend time comparing your loan or credit card before you apply. (You can compare and find the best personal loan for youby clicking here.)
How to Improve Your Credit Score #9: Contact Creditors for Lower Interest Rates
If you’re in a good position with your score, but still have some debt to pay off, try calling your credit company to see if they can lower your interest rate. This is a bit like haggling for lower insurance premiums, so you won’t always get it, but if you do you’ll save money in the long run and lower your credit utilization more often. Even if you don't think your credit is "great", it is still worth trying. Worst case, they won't lower your interest rate.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #10: Contact Creditors for Higher Credit Limits
If you’re in a good position with a creditor and your score, a way to further improve it is to take them up on any offers for more credit or call them to see if they can offer you more. This will improve your credit utilization and thus your score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #11: Pay Down Maxed Cards
If you have any maxed-out credit cards, focus on paying them down some before you start paying off the highest interest rate cards (as most people recommend if you want to get debt-free).
How to Improve Your Credit Score #12: Make Micro Payments
Instead of paying your credit card bills once a month, pay a little bit each week. Why? Because interest isn’t added to your balance just once monthly, so if you pay a little often you can avoid additional interest and lower your credit utilization much faster.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #13: Become an Authorized User on Another Account
If you have a family member with a long record of good credit and a high credit limit, see if they will add you as an authorized user of that account. This will give you more credit to your name – ideal for those who have little history. They don’t need to give you a card or any account details, but it will help you overall.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #14: Get a Prepaid Card
If you have absolutely no history, a prepaid credit card is an ideal solution, as it will allow you to build credit without actually owing anyone money. This is also called a “secured” card. Prepaid credit cards require you put money down. The amount you put towards securing your new credit card is the amount that determines your credit line.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #15: Mix Your Credit
Lenders like to see that you’ve had different types of credit; auto loans, credit cards, and personal loans. Try using a different type of credit this year to give your score a boost. (Click here to find the best personal loan offersfor you.)
How to Improve Your Credit Score #16: Take Advantage of Cash Back Offers
If you have a good score but haven’t been using your credit for a while, consider getting a credit card that rewards you for the purchases you make often. This way you can put your spending on that card, get rewarded for it, and build your credit.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #17: Get a Secured Loan
If you want a personal loan but your credit score has taken hit in recent years, consider securing one against your home. While you should never do this lightly, if you know you can make the repayments it will quickly give your score a boost, and the influx of cash you need.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #18: Avoid Buying Big Purchases with Credit Cards
Unless you have a 0% interest period or an incredible interest rate, it’s never going to make sense to put a big purchase on a credit card instead of using a personal loan. Personal loans will nearly always offer you a better interest rate, and – importantly – they force you to pay it off over a predetermined period. Credit cards can be traps – so avoid them if you know you fall into them.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #19: Check Your Score Monthly
Check your credit score each month to see how it’s going and dispute any errors. A healthy credit score is one you actually know. There are many apps and services to help with this. One such app is Credit Karma, which allows you to check your credit score every 7 days. Experian also offers a paid credit score service that will allow you to more regularly monitor your credit score.
How to Improve Your Credit Score #20: Always Compare Credit Before You Get It
Never decide who you’re going to go with for a line of credit before doing some research. Really, who lends you the money is unimportant (beyond being trustworthy and lawful), but what is important is the interest rate you get and the credit line or loan you get. Always compare rates before you apply. We work with people just like you every day to ensure they are getting the very best personal loan for them, so if you need a personal loan, click here to Apply Now and we'll do the comparing for you. Our network includes hundreds of lenders.
It typically takes 3-6 months to see a good improvement in your credit score, so start now at the beginning of 2020 and by the time summer comes you’ll be in a good position to take out a personal loan (or any other goal you have) to complete other life improvements. Don’t forget that we compare personal loans for you to make sure you get the very best rates for you. You can send your details to us here, and we’ll be glad to help!