A recent Marcus by Goldman Sachs survey revealed that 44% of people want to improve their credit in 2022. Having a higher credit score makes it easier to qualify for credit cards or loans at an affordable interest rate. If you’ve made financial mistakes in the past and want to rebuild your credit, here are some steps you can take to get a good score.
Focus on paying your bills on time
There are several pieces of data used to calculate your credit score, but nothing is more important than your payment history. It accounts for 35 percent of your score. Always pay your full balance on or before the due date. If your memory isn’t the best, enroll in automatic payments or set up payment reminders, so you never miss another due date. And make sure you keep enough money in your checking account to cover your expenses.
Don’t max out your credit card
Using all your available credit is never a good idea. It lowers your credit score and makes you look risky to potential lenders. Ideally, you want to keep your credit utilization under 30%. Closer to 10% is even better.
Get a secured credit card
Credit cards are a great way to build credit, but it’s hard to get approved when you have bad or limited credit. In this situation, your best bet may be to apply for a secured credit card. They work like traditional cards except they require a deposit to open the account. Usually, your deposit will equal your spending limit so you can’t borrow more than you can afford to pay. Keep in mind, if you miss a payment, your lender may keep your deposit. Your activity will be reported to the credit bureaus and if the card is being used responsibly, your score will improve over time. Eventually you’ll be able to qualify for an unsecured card. When you close your secured card, your deposit will be refunded.
Become an authorized user on someone else’s account
If you have a family member with good credit, ask them to add you as an authorized user on their credit account. Their account information such as credit limit, payment history and card balance will show up on your credit report. As long as they keep the accounts in good standing, your score will improve. You may receive a card with your name on it, but the primary cardholder is responsible for the payments. If you use the card irresponsibly or they start missing payments, both of your scores will suffer.
Review your credit report
Don’t automatically assume that everything on your credit report is correct. According to Consumer Reports, 34% of people have found at least one mistake on their credit report. Having inaccuracies on your report such as a loan that doesn’t belong to you, can hurt your score, and force you to pay higher interest rates on loans. Right now, you can get free weekly online credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com. So, download yours and comb through the information. If you spot any mistakes or accounts you don’t recognize, you’ll need to file a dispute with each of the credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax).