You can ruin your credit score in a day, but it may take years before you become an excellent credit risk again. Focusing on boosting your credit score is a good idea, but also a long-term process. There are ways to boost your score dramatically in a matter of days, but not if you have legitimate red flags on your credit report.
Fastest Way Possible
Credit reports sometimes contain errors, such as bankruptcies that belong to another person, or a creditor reporting an on-time payment as late. Rapid rescoring companies have special approval from the credit agencies to fix mistakes on creditor reports in as little as 72 hours. Normally, disputing an error with an agency takes 90 days before they remove the mistake. This service is only available through lenders and costs upward of $50 -- a meager sum compared to what you can save on a loan by deleting an error.
Paying your bills on time and eliminating credit card debt gets you well on your way to improving credit score, even if the credit agencies probably won't update your report for another few months. A month or two of paying bills on time, however, probably does not do much for your score. The Motley Fool suggests that significant improvement in a score does not happen until after six to 12 months of perfect payment history.
Things You Can Do Right Now
Credit experts, such as Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money Central, say borrowers should not use more than 30 percent of their available revolving credit limit -- called credit utilization. Ideally, you should pay off all of your credit card debt, but you can lower your credit utilization ratio by raising your limit. Ask your lender for a spending increase, but see if you can get one without a credit check, because an inquiry dings your score one to five points. If you have an old card, put a small charge on it and pay the balance each month. Creditors do not report accounts that you stop using for a few months.
Do not cancel old credit cards. Part of your credit score comes from the average age on your accounts. If you already have several types of credit, such as an installment loan, credit card and retail card, avoid applying for new debt. You do not want to take on unnecessary debt or build history on a new account unless you are coming out of a bankruptcy or trying to get a good mix of loans.
Russell Huebsch has written freelance articles covering a range of topics from basketball to politics in print and online publications. He graduated from Baylor University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science.