Now that the weather is finally warming up, there’s no shortage of people trying to work off the pounds they gained over the winter. Getting healthy is always a good idea, but why not also put some energy into getting your credit score healthy this season? It’s not as much of a challenge as you might think.
Like getting fit, building good credit will take some time. There are a few strategies that can make the process quicker and easier, though. These are three ways you can jumpstart your credit score both immediately and over time.
Take advantage of instant boosts
You may have heard of credit boosts – they are new programs that provide an instant credit score boost to people without much credit history, or individuals recovering from a financial crisis. The Experian Boost looks at your history of paying utility and cell phone bills on time and adds them to your credit score. In other words, if you’ve paid those bills on time, your credit score will increase.
UltraFICO looks at useful data in your checking, savings and money market accounts that credit scores don’t usually take into account. You could receive an immediate boost to your credit if your accounts have been open for a long period and you’ve been using them regularly, and if you have money in your savings account.
Be strategic with paid off accounts
Not everyone knows that paid off accounts stay on your credit report. An auto loan you have paid off, for example, will remain on your record for several years. That may sound threatening at first, but a robust credit history works in your favor if you kept up with your payments; it provides tangible, credible evidence to creditors that you pay your bills on time. If your history was less than perfect, though, it might be worth negotiating to have the mark removed.
Stay on top of payments
It isn’t the most glamorous aspect of building good credit, but it is certainly one of the most functional: pay your bills on time. Everyone has inadvertently overspent on a shopping trip and wound up short at the end of the month. Making a budget will keep you aware of how much you have available for your needs (and wants) while keeping you on track to pay your bills, pay off debt and bolster savings.
A good credit score is a cornerstone to doing many of the good things in life. Investing in a home, driving a new car off the lot, negotiating a loan or vacationing to an exotic locale can all hinge on that one number. Going from middling or bad credit to good takes time, but by using the resources available, this could be the summer that your credit gets healthy.