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Tips for Raising Your Score

Raising your credit score is a bit like losing weight — it takes time and there is no quick fix. In fact, quick-fix efforts can backfire. The best advice is to manage credit responsibly over time. Follow these suggestions from Fair Isaac Corporation, the creators of the FICO® score.
Improve your payment history
  • Pay your bills on time. Delinquent payments and collections can have a major negative impact on your score.
  • If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time, the better your score. But also be aware even if you pay off a collection account, it will stay on your report for seven years.
  • Contact your creditors or a legitimate credit counselor if you're having trouble making ends meet. This won't improve your score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score will get better over time.
Lower your amounts owed
  • Keep your balances low on credit cards and other "revolving credit." High outstanding debt can affect a score.
  • Pay off debt rather than moving it around. The most effective way to improve your score is by paying down your revolving credit.
  • Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. Owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your score.
  • Don't open new credit cards you don't need, just to increase your available credit. This approach could backfire and lower your score.
Make the most of the length of your credit history
If you've been managing credit for a short time, don't open a lot of new accounts too rapidly. New accounts will lower your average account age, which will have a larger effect on your score if you don't have a lot of other credit information. Also, rapid account buildup can look risky if you are a new credit user.
Getting new credit
  • Do your rate shopping within a focused period of time. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.
  • Re-establish your credit history. Even if you'd had problems in the past, opening new accounts responsibly and paying them off on time will raise your score in the long term.
Manage the types of credit you have
  • Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don't open accounts just to have a better credit mix — it probably won't raise your score.
  • Have credit cards — but manage them responsibly. In general, having credit cards (and paying them on time) will raise your score.
Certain information provided by Fair Isaac Corporation, San Rafael, California.