Items you will need
- Copy of your 3-in-1 credit report with FICO scores
- Personal financial information
A low credit score makes it difficult to buy a house or get a loan for school. Your low credit score can even prevent you from getting the new job that provides the income to get out of debt. So how do you break the cycle of debt and raise your credit score? You can raise your credit score by as much as 200 points with research and an understanding of credit ranking. Your credit score will improve if you work with your creditor, pay the bills on time and lower your debt.
Obtain a copy of your credit report. Purchase a 3-in-1 credit report with FICO scores from a credit reporting agency such as TransUnion or Equifax. A 3-in-1 credit report gives you a report from all three major credit bureaus. Request FICO scores for all three reports to get complete information on your credit score ranking. Figure out your credit status. Credit scores range between 850 and 300. For creditworthiness, you want to keep your credit score above 700. Credit scores below 500 are considered higher risk by credit card companies and lenders.
Challenge any inaccurate details in your credit report. Draft a letter correcting the information and send it to the credit reporting agency that sent you the report. Keep a copy of the letter with your records.
Compile all of your personal financial records. Review your income, savings, debt and taxes. Decide how much money you can use to pay down credit cards with large balances and high interest rates. Write a list of credit cards to either pay off or reduce the balance.
Consult with a certified financial planner about your financial situation. Ask for advice on how to improve your credit score.
Pay your bills on time. Late payments can result in higher interest rates, shorter grace periods and a lower credit score.
Call your credit card companies and request larger limits. When a credit card company increases your limit, it demonstrates your positive payment history, which improves your credit score.
Pay down the balance of credit cards that are at their limit. Keeping cards close to their limit has a negative effect on credit scores. You want to keep all credit card balances below 30 percent of their limits.
Request a letter of deletion from a collection agency after you have paid off the debt. After a collection debt is paid, the account activity date is reset like a new line of credit. You may need the letter of deletion to prove that you paid the debt on the account if it is challenged in the future and protect your credit score from further damage.
Consolidate your debt to pay it off faster. Transfer the balance of a higher interest rate credit card to a lower interest rate card. Ask your credit card company about balance transfer deals. Some credit card companies offer low interest rate balance transfer deals to their customers. Getting rid of debt will improve your credit score.
Use a home equity line of credit to pay off your debt. Home equity loans often allow you to access a large sum of money at a low interest rate. Since your house is used as collateral, only get a home equity loan if you can make the payments on time.
Request another credit report six months after you have worked on improving your credit score. You should see a substantial improvement in your credit ranking.
If you purchase a credit report online, it may be easier to challenge inaccuracies because you can dispute online. Keep credit card accounts open, active and paid on time. Do not close a credit card account because a closed account lowers your credit score. Pay all of your bills within 30 days of the due date to avoid late fees. Late payments get reported to credit reporting agencies and hurt your credit score. Only apply for credit that you can afford. Credit cards may give the illusion of having an extra income source. However, if you cannot afford to make monthly payments, you will end up in debt with a lower credit score. You can request a free copy of a general credit report once every 12 months. However, it will not include FICO scores.