Leprechauns can't make mischief with your credit scores, and finding a four leaf clover won't magically help them escalate. In truth, the numbers produced by such credit scoring companies as FICO® and VantageScore are entirely up to you to create and maintain. If you want that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow—scores of 700 on up—you'll get them without the help or hindrance of lore. That's because credit scores are based on the information listed on your credit reports, which house your personal borrowing and payment activity. Therefore, to get legendary scores, you'll have to take realistic action. Here's what you need to do.
- Clean your credit. Check your credit reports to make make sure that everything listed is correct and timely. Inaccuracies such as fraudulent accounts or negative information that should have aged off (collection accounts older than seven years, for example) might be pulling your scores down. If so, this is often an easy fix. File a dispute with the credit reporting agency, which will prompt an investigation. Wait about 30 days, and the information should be expunged from your reports. Then check your scores to see how the removal impacted the numbers.
- Add plenty of positives. If you haven't used credit much or at all, you have a thin credit file, which makes it very difficult to develop a good credit score. To thicken up your file and possibly improve your credit score, consider using Experian Boost™† to add your phone and utility bills to your credit report. This will give credit scorers positive data to compute and may help you qualify for a credit card or loan. And if you get those and use them well, your scores will really start to take shape.
- Send payments early. Because payment history is the most weighted factor in any credit scoring system, consistently paying bills on time is a guaranteed way to hike up those digits. There's no reason to wait until the last moment, though. Arrange for the money to be in the lenders' hands at least a few days before the due date. This way you can be sure that the payment will be reflected on your credit report as on time, every time. Consider enrolling in automatic bill pay so you leave nothing to chance.
- Charge and repay. Using at least one credit card regularly and responsibly is the fastest route to a great credit score. By charging a little each month and paying the debt off in full, you'll be proving that you're a master of your financial domain.
- Drive down balances. Already hold a lot of consumer debt? Take control over the situation and pay it down. Owing too much money (especially as compared to your credit lines) will cause your scores to sink because it affects your credit utilization ratio. The antidote is to stop borrowing until your debt is substantially under the charging limit. Rather than paying the bare minimum, send the most you can afford. As your balances decrease, your scores will increase.
- Piggyback on a mate's plastic. If you're just beginning to establish credit or your credit report could use another perfectly managed account, consider becoming an authorized user on someone else's credit card. It will show up on your credit report as well as the owner's. As long as that person uses the card frequently, pays on time and maintains a low or no balance, your scores will benefit. When those scores are high enough, you can apply for a card of your own and handle it the same way. Then you can thank your friend profusely and remove yourself from his account.
- Clear collections. If you're among the 71 million U.S. adults who have debts in collections, you might be aware of how badly they're affecting your credit scores. Collection accounts are considered the most serious of delinquencies. Thankfully, you can do something about it. Satisfy those debts. When you do and they're reported as paid, the latest versions of the credit scoring models won't include them in their calculations. Consequently, if you pay them off, your scores will likely spike. Mind that the accounts will still show up on your reports for seven years, but the older they get, the less important they become.
- Apply prudently. Of course you have to apply for a credit account to get one, but be mindful about the process. All applications will show up as hard inquiries on your credit reports, and an overabundance of them in a short period of time looks like you're financially desperate. Although inquiries are a relatively minor credit scoring factor, too many will shave off points. Go slowly. Only pursue the loans and credit cards that you will qualify for and that you truly need.
Clearly none of these credit scoring improvement techniques require any mystical good fortune, Irish or otherwise. Only you control your credit destiny. When you do, you celebrate with a toast: May your troubles be less and your blessings be more. And nothing but happiness come through your door.
Want to instantly increase your credit score? Experian Boost™ helps by giving you credit for the utility and mobile phone bills you're already paying. Until now, those payments did not positively impact your score.
This service is completely free and can boost your credit score fast by using your own positive payment history. It can also help those with poor or limited credit situations. Other services such as credit repair may cost you up to thousands and only help remove inaccuracies from your credit report.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
*Credit score calculated based on FICO® Score 8 model. Your lender or insurer may use a different FICO® Score than FICO® Score 8, or another type of credit score altogether. Learn more.