These six steps can start to move your credit score in the right direction.
US News & World Report
Erica Sandberg and Ali Cybulski
20 May 2022
Since credit utilization is the second most important factor of your FICO credit score, paying down debt is essential.
When your credit score is low, you may wish you could wave a magic wand to increase it. No one has overnight or super quick fixes, but you can take action to improve your credit score in 30 days. These six steps can result in a major move in the right direction.
The three major credit bureaus update your credit reports about once a month, and your scores will adjust according to your most recent activity. The next time they recalculate your scores, you will want the information on your reports to be improved. Ready? On your mark, get set, go!
1. Check Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores
The first step is to know what is being reported about you. If you’re going to improve your credit score in 30 days, you need to change what appears in your credit files.
You can check your credit report from each U.S. credit bureau – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian – for free weekly through 2022 at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Next, get your credit scores. Your bank, credit card company or lender may offer free access, or you can buy scores from the credit bureaus or a credit score service.
FICO scores are most commonly used, but VantageScores are also popular. For both, the numerical range is 300 to 850, with higher scores indicating lower lending risk. In general, the most important factors of your credit scores are your payment history and how much debt you carry.
2. Correct Mistakes in Your Credit Reports
Once you have your credit reports, read them carefully. You certainly don’t want to be penalized for something you didn’t do.
A 2021 Consumer Reports investigation found that 34% of consumers discovered mistakes in their reports. Most were personal identification errors, such as a wrong name or address, but 11% were account information errors, such as an account you don’t recognize.
Inspect your reports for current accounts that show up as delinquent, unusually high balances, debt you paid off long ago and mysterious collection accounts. Check for evidence of fraud, such as loans and credit cards you never opened.
Also, look for accurate but old information that should no longer appear on your credit reports. Most negative marks, including late payments, charge-offs, collection accounts and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, can stay on your credit report for seven years, according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Chapter 7 bankruptcies can be listed on your credit report for up to 10 years from the filing date.
Boot bad data from your reports by filing a free dispute online with each credit bureau. You can also dispute a credit report error by phone or mail.
The credit bureaus will have 30 days to investigate. You will also need to dispute each error with the business that supplied the information to the credit bureau. The business will investigate and tell the credit bureau whether to update or delete the information in your report.
If your credit reports contain mistakes that are bringing down your scores, they will get a bump when that information is removed. Monitor your reports to confirm that the bureaus remove the inaccuracies. If they continue to be reported, make sure they are marked as disputed.