It is one of the most important numbers you have: Your credit score. Many think it is difficult to budge, but the 800 club is not an exclusive one.
SAN ANTONIO — It is fairly simple and quick to join the 800 credit score club. Use these tips to raise your score:
One action improves your score the most. Do this no matter where your credit score is currently:
“The one thing that everybody who has an 800 credit score has in common is that they pay their bills on time, every single time,” said Matt Schulz, a senior credit analyst with Lending Tree. “There’s nothing more important to your credit score than that.”
A LendingTree study of those with excellent credit found 100% of people with an 800 or higher credit score never paid their bills late.
Use this hack to never miss a payment:
“There is plenty of technology out there that can help you do these things. All of the credit card issuers have autopay,” Schulz said. “You can set up text alerts. There’s all these things you can do to constantly remind yourself or to put on autopilot the need to make those payment on time.”
Then pay attention to your credit utilization. Here is what that means:
“This is the amount of credit you’ve used compared to the amount you have available across all credit limits,” said Beverly Harzog, a credit card expert with U.S. News & World Report.
Boost your score quickly by using 10% or less. This is how the numbers break down:
“Let’s say you’ve got a $1000 credit limit,” Harzog said. “Keep your balance lower than $100.”
That can be hard to do, but keeping your credit utilization no higher than 30% will also help raise your score. That means paying off debt. Or try this insider tip:
“Ask for a credit limit increase on one of your credit cards,” Harzog said.
The key is not to use it.
“That just defeats the purpose of why you wanted that extra limit,” Harzog said.
Harzog cautions against closing a credit card when you are trying to raise your credit score because it can negatively affect your credit utilization rate.
“You need to run the numbers first,” she said. “Here’s what you do: Think about what the credit limit is on the credit card you want to close. Then calculate your utilization ratio without that card in the mix. You’ll notice that since you lose that available credit on the card you want to close, it can make your ratio go up. Now, this will vary among people. The longer you’ve had credit and higher your credit limits, the less you’ll be impacted by that.”
Next, check your credit report. Get it for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
“Just be sure everything looks good because sometimes you’ve got an error in your credit report,” Schulz said. “That can really impact your score.”
Dispute any errors so they are corrected.
Plus, do not open any new credit accounts.
“One of the key things to having a good credit score is to not go too crazy opening too many accounts too often because it can raise some red flags in lenders’ eyes as to why you need all of that credit,” Schulz said. “The average person with an 800 credit score opens about one loan a year.”
It will take about a year to see significant changes in your score if you follow these steps.
“The lower your score, the faster you’re going to see it rise, honestly, because once you get a high score, it goes up a little bit slower,” Harzog said.
One more helpful hint: You actually do not need an 800 credit score to get the best interest rates. The number you really want to aim for is lower.
“The score you want to shoot for so that you get the very best rates, and that means low-interest rates on credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, is 760,” Harzog said. “That’s a super score that’s considered very good.”
Having a good credit score is free, but it can take some work and time to get one.