Credit is an essential component of your financial health, but many people are utterly clueless about their credit score or how they can improve it.
We at Your Money Geek don’t want any of our readers to start their financial journey without the basic knowledge of their current situation. So, don’t try to figure out what streaming device investment is the best for your household unless you’re entirely aware of what you can afford.
What we’re saying is, don’t put the cart before the horse.
We’ve put together four easy steps to fix your credit score (and your credit awareness) fast.
These steps will not only help those who have a very low score. They will help those that need a more comprehensive understanding of their situation and what they can do to improve it today.
So, without further ado, I present you with your credit score strategy.
Four Easy Ways Boost Your Credit Score Overnight
Step #1: Discover Your Credit Score
It stands to reason that you cannot fix a problem if you don’t know it exists in the first place. So, you need to find out your credit score, through a reliable source, to determine how bad the damage is.
To run your credit for free, try first visiting Annual Credit Report.com. This site provides users with one free credit report every year that will give you a decent picture as to how you’re registering on the credit scale. A few other sites you can use include Credit Karma or Credit Sesame.
Take caution with what sites you use to run your credit score, and how often you do it. You must note that every time you run your credit score, it takes a hit on your credit. What’s a “hit” on your credit, you ask? It is how your credit decreases, every time the credit Gods determine you’ve done something negative.
This may seem like a contraindication. Checking your credit too often negatively impacts your credit score? Caring about your financial health and monitoring it is something negative? In a sense, yes. The idea is that you should have a good understanding of your credit, and the methods in which to maintain its health, without having to check it every day. So, basically, the world of credit wants you to know the rules of engagement before you start building your creditworthiness.
For a lot of people, this isn’t the case. It doesn’t seem like teaching students about credit or discussing it in school is all that common. Often, individuals turn 18, apply for a credit card, and go wild spending until they’ve maxed their (usually small) limit. So, take note of this now that you’re in the state of needing to repair your score.
When you have the opportunity, pass along your knowledge (or this article) to the youth of today. Be the change you want to see in the world of credit comprehension!
Step #2: Determine What Factors Are Negatively Impacting Your Credit Score
Your free credit report will provide you with information on the pieces of your financial puzzle that harm your credit score. Three main factors are more than likely dragging you down.
The first is that you don’t have enough credit. Much like the scenario we laid out above, if you are young and only have one credit card that you’ve maxed out, then it’s likely that your available credit is low or non-existent. In the world of credit, it’s essential to have plenty of wiggle room when it comes to available credit.
This means that while it may seem counterintuitive to have many lines of credit, it may be a good thing if they’re underutilized. This indicates you have a lot of available credit on the various credit lines. Therefore, your credit score may be poor because your available credit is too low.
The second thing that may be affecting your credit is that you have made a late payment. Maybe you forgot, or you didn’t have the funds to pay the bill. In either scenario (because it doesn’t matter what the reason is), you’ve received a “hit’ on your credit because your payment was late, and your company notated it.
The third thing that may be affecting your credit is that your late payment has gone to a collections agency. This means that your late payment is so overdue that the credit company sent your information to a third party collector to track you down and request your payment.
We won’t sugar coat it – if you’re here, this is bad. Furthermore, if you are in this position, it is essential to rectify this situation as soon as possible and, if you can, pay off the entire debt.
If you need a visual, think of breaking the rules in school.
The first time you misbehave, it may result in a scolding from your teacher. No biggie, she or he let you know you were out of line, and now you’re aware of what will get you in trouble.
The second time you break the rules, you may go to the principal’s office or to your guidance counselor to discuss your failure to abide by the set standard. Not as easy to shrug off, but you realize that you’re still learning, so you’ll try harder next time.
The third time you break the rules, the school is calling your parents. And, if you’re like us, when they call your parents, that means they’re bringing in the big guns.
Think of a collections agency as your parents of credit. You don’t want them called, and you definitely don’t want to have to answer to them. Avoid it at all costs.
Step #3: Communicate and Respond
The first thing you can do to assist in repairing your credit score is to start paying down your credit. However, not many of us have expendable income. So, we’re guessing you’re in this sticky situation in the first place because you don’t have the money to pay your overdue balance.
If this is your situation, then we have two words for you: communicate and respond. Don’t ghost your creditors. It won’t work, and more ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Instead, we encourage you to reach out to your credit companies and cultivate a relationship with them.
Remember that they’re not the enemy in this situation. In fact, if you’re going to blame anyone for the circumstances you find yourself in, you should go stand in front of a mirror because it’s you.
Reaching out to your credit agencies will help you better understand what you need to do to repair your credit. So, for example, if you were unaware that your payment was due, you can discuss with them the timelines and expectations of repayment.
It will also create you as a person as opposed to debt to your company. If they have it noted that you’ve called and communicated with them, they’ll know that you’re willing to work together to repair your situation. When you establish a line of communication, it makes you much more likely to tackle our next suggestion. Which is…
We know what you’re thinking, and that negotiation tactics for exchange of payment are long since old-fashioned and won’t work.
However, you’re wrong.
Explain to your creditor your situation and discuss your eagerness to pay down your debt. If you can’t make the minimum payment due, ask them if they’d be willing to establish a different repayment plan that fits your limitations. More often then not, a credit company is more concerned with receiving any payment, then the amount.
This is not to say that if you have a $100,000 credit card maxed out that you can negotiate a payment of $50/month. Because you’re not, instead, do the math and try to determine an amount that is both feasible on your end and will be well received on their end. Typically this amount will at least cover the monthly accrued interest and an additional amount owed.
Finally, if you’re reviewing your credit with your company, you may be able to spot errors or fraudulent charges.
We recommend that you’re on top of this well before the situation evolves into a state of late payments and negotiations. But, if you find yourself here, make sure you go over each charge and assure that it was a transaction you authorized. Unfortunately, the credit card information is something that’s compromised more often than we care to admit.
Practice diligence with your credit monitoring, and, if you notice something wrong, speak up. Your credit company will want to know if a transaction occurs that is fraudulent. But, if you catch it after the fact, it’s still important to bring this to their attention and contest the charge.
Step #4: Consider Using a Tradeline for a Quick Boost
If you’re feeling like you ready to do something big to boost your credit score virtually overnight you may consider partnering with an organization like Coast Tradelines.
Coast Tradelines helps individuals with no credit or low credit scores build their credit by partnering them with individuals with high lines of credit and excellent credit repayment history.
It sounds kind of strange but keep an open mind.
When you were younger, your parents (hopefully) introduced you to the world of credit by opening a joint bank account with you or co-signing your school loans. They may have even added you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards, permitting you to use it on an emergency basis only.
In doing this, they helped establish your credit. When the time came that you were eligible to venture into the world of credit on your own, you had a positive credit history.
Coast Tradelines affords individuals this same sort of opportunity to build their credit, as adults. The individual with the high line of credit, adds you as an authorized user on their card. While you will have no access to the card or the line of credit itself, adding your name as an authorized user will allow you to benefit from several factors.
First, it will increase your debt to credit ratio, enabling your score to improve from this alone. Second, the positive repayment history of the cardholder will transfer to your credit history, giving you another “leg-up” in the field of credit.
These positive behaviors will benefit you and improve your credit over time, helping you get closer to a credit score that reflects your positive choices in the world of debt.
However, it’s good to go into this scenario with the understanding that not every person who applies for this opportunity will receive approval. Much like the circumstances we discussed in the section above, creditors want to see a history of healthy financial behaviors.
While Coast Tradelines wants to assist individuals who have low credit, they’re not going to take on someone who presents as a ridiculous risk. Therefore, taking a significant amount of time to improve your credit score before you apply for these types of opportunities will increase your eligibility.
The Bottom Line
These four steps to fixing your credit score ASAP may seem unproductive.
However, they’re essential pieces that will guide you in repairing your situation. Evaluating your available credit options, checking your credit report, and resolving overdue balances are the first steps that will enable you to rectify your financial health.
After you’ve completed these steps, there are several more options available to improve your credit score. We’re planning on sharing those thoughts with you soon, so stay tuned for part 2 of this piece. In the second edition, we will guide you on the bigger and long term steps you can take to fix your credit and improve its status.
Until then, follow the steps we’ve outlined above to make sure you’re well on your wait to a higher credit score.
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Michael launched Your Money Geek to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.