10 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score (FICO)

If you haven’t started playing the FICO game yet, a Pandora’s box of problems awaits you. If you’re ready, hit **start**, I’ve got 10 little-known cheats that will help you get to the next level. You only get one life, but 1mil’s 1ups are here to help you get the second chance you wish you had. Come and get it!

You think high school or college was the last you ever saw of report cards, and grades and scores!? Well my friend you were mistaken, there’s one monster of a score that follows you around for life — your credit score!
AmEx
There is a wide variety of reports about you available to people you want to borrow money from, but the most largely adopted source is none other than Fair, Isaac & Co., (namesake of FICO) which developed the de facto credit scoring system used by some of the biggest lenders in the nation.

Companies like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion provide this information to financial institutions that deal with you and money to determine your creditworthiness.

Your creditworthiness determines what interest rate you’ll get for loans, or if you will be approved to rent an apartment. Maybe you’re starting to see how your FICO score can wreak havoc on your life! So now that you know the basics, let’s get to the reason why you came here:

10 Ways to 1-Up Your Credit Score

  1. Know and Track Your Credit Score- You can get the free MyFico 30-Day Trial of Score Watch which will tell you your current score and alert you if there are any changes.
  2. Never Miss a Payment, Starting Today- So you might not have had the best track record, but if you can keep your credit clean from now until forever your credit score will raise over time by itself! You can pay your bills online or use a direct deposit payment so that you never miss!(+100 pts)
  3. Never use more than 20% of your Available Credit- This is one of the lesser known tricks to credit score building. If you have a $1000 credit limit on one card, only use a maximum of $200 on it. This rule applies to every card you have.(+15 pts)
  4. Keep Credit Cards that Have No Annual Fees Open For as Long as Possible- The length of your credit history is a good indicator for your short term performance on paying a bill or loan. So, even if you’re trying to resist the temptation of using your cards, do not close them. Cutting them up is ok. (+25 pts)
  5. Extend Your Credit Limit on Cards You Already Have before You Get New Ones- This has to do with tip #3 there, it’s better to have more available credit on one card, then to have it spread around multiple cards. Besides, it’s just easier to keep track of, and it will help you not miss your bill cycle. (+10 pts)
  6. Get Credit Cards that Have CashBack Rewards to Contribute to your Balance- Get paid to use your credit card? Sort of.. With only 2 or 3% returns the trick here is that you have to use your credit card for most of your purchases. You’ll get a couple of hundred dollars back at the end of the year, and you can use it to pay off your debt, or to put away in a Money Market Account.(+5 pts)
  7. Transfer Your Balance to a Credit Card with a Lower Interest Rate and a Higher Available Credit- Not such a tricky maneuver but this one depends on you having another card with a lower interest rate. If you do, try tip #5 — up your available credit on your current lower interest rate card, then transfer the balance. (+10 pts)
  8. If You Think You Are Going to be FORCED to Pay a Bill Late Ask for an Extension or Payment Plan -Avoid getting a negative mark on your credit report, however possible. Beg, plead, make a deal. Once they bring out the smudger, your credit is smudged. Save yourself a major hit, negotiate new payment terms, refinance, — they really just want their money, but some credit places out there are dirty and tricky. Try try, and save yourself 15 points. Remember each hit is compounding negatively against your FICO points! This is a Plan B for those days where you forgot to follow trick #2(+15 pts)
  9. Take out a Small Personal Loan and Repay it Over a Year-Tricky, but it works. Take out a loan for say $1000 and pay the balance off over the course of the year. If you pay every month on time you will start to build a credit history. (+10 points)
  10. Ask Someone With Good Credit if They will Account Shadow you- This a little tricky but it can do the job. Some credit cards allow you to add other people to your account without giving them an actual card. When your friend pays their bills on time it will reflect on your credit report, so will their available balance! But beware if they miss a payment or become delinquent, it will show up on your report as well. (+25 points) Fico scores no longer consider accounts that are shadowed! Looks like I need a new #10! =)

If you have any questions about your Credit Score feel free to contact me or leave a comment!

You can also get your Full Credit Report here or try the Suze Orman Credit Report Repair Kit

Or if you worried about your score changing you should try the Score Watch

58 thoughts on “10 Ways to Increase Your Credit Score (FICO)

  1. Terry Kill

    3.Never use more than 20% of your Available Credit- This is one of the lesser known tricks to credit score building. If you have a $1000 credit limit on one card, only use a maximum of $200 on it. This rule applies to every card you have.(+15 pts)
    How often does your credit score increase 15 points? I have just been approved for a unsecured credit card from Orchard Bank. it has an annuual fee of $39-$59. Does this type of card have any twist that I should be aware of. Should I just use this card until I get a credit card without the annual fee? The credit limit is for $300 I know i should only use $60 at a time according to your post, so does it make a difference if I use it multiple times at $60 and just funnel my money thrpough the credit card? I read through one of the credit watch services that obtaining a creduit card would boost my credit score 40-41 points is that over time or first quarter or what? Thank you

    1. 1mil Post author

      @Terry_Kill This article doesnt speficially address the time it takes to boost points, but it can take from a month to 6 months to have positive impact based on actions that will alter your score. In regards to your question about getting a credit card, the real issue here is increasing your available credit. Getting a new card will boost your available credit, and your score. How much depends on how much debt you currently have. This sort of credit boost can easily happen within a months time.

  2. Natalia

    Hey,

    I am currently trying to get approved for a FHA loan. It requires a credit score of 620. My credit score is 602. What can I do to boost my credit score up 18+? I am trying to buy a house in 3-6 months. I don’t have any credit cards and I was a victim of identity theft. In the last 1 1/2 years I boost my score by 200 points.

    Thanks :)

    1. 1mil Post author

      @Natalia See my previous comment. Paying down your credit cards, keeping your current accounts open, and resolving any conflicts in your credit report will help you boost your score. You could likely boost your score in 6 months 18+ points, just depends on your actual numbers.

  3. Mike

    I just got turned down for an AMEX card because they said my FICO score was too low. Yet, I have never had a late payment before on any of my accounts, and I have lond-standing accounts.

    What is the best way to increase this score ASAP?? Hire a lawyer or specialist?

    1. 1mil Post author

      @Mike In your case simply paying your bills on time isnt enough to build a solid score. I could write an entire article about this but I’ll give you some basics to get you started:

      Total Available Credit vs Debt- If you have high balances on any of your current cards, paying them down will positively impact your score in about a month.

      Credit History Length – If you’ve never had credit or loans before, it can be hard to start building a credit history initially. Let me know if this is the case for you.

      On-Time Payments – Generally represent only about 20 to 25% of your credit score. You should continue to pay your bills on time!

      Also keep in mind that credit score is related to time, so you’re not going to get any major gains immediately. You can get small gains in a month, but larger ones may take up to 6 months.

      Hope this helps gives you some ideas to work with.

  4. Amber

    I filed bankruptcy 8/2011, My current score is 636… in order to recieve an FHA home owners loan I need a 650 credit score and 2 years post bankruptcy. In the next 10 months I would like to increase my score as much as possible… I have 3 credit cards for department stores ( low limits 600/250/600) …would you recommend me getting a VISA/MASTER instead and just leaving those accounts open? I pay my bills on time … no negative reflections since bankruptcy. If I obtain a small loan from a lender if I pay it off in 6 months rather than a year can that have a positive affect on my score? I obtained one credit report and plan to get anothert in 4 months and than another 4 months later . I really just want to get my credit back together. What is my best option for an significant increase in the next 10 months?

  5. Marcio

    Hello. Great article, congrats. I got a question for you: I’m a Brazilian living (legally) in USA since Jul/2012. I got my secured credit card that time, so I’m going for my 7th month now. I have been paying all my expenses on time and using the secured credit card properly (no more than 30% of limit). What else could I do to improve my credit score? Change the secured credit card limit would be useful? Thank you.

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