If you’ve hit a rough financial patch in the past, it doesn’t mean your credit score is doomed forever. In fact, rebuilding credit is totally doable if you can illustrate that you’re able to manage your credit responsibly. With just a few tweaks and healthy credit habits, you can rebuild your credit score and avoid plummeting into poor choices that could lead to bankruptcy.
Here are four strategies for rebuilding credit that you can implement starting right now.
1. Make sure your credit report is accurate.
One thing that could bring your credit score down is false information. Perhaps a creditor reported that you were delinquent, or a medical bill you settled is still listed as unpaid. Pull your credit report via Annual Credit Report and make sure everything included is accurate, as recommended by MyFico. If you find errors, use the credit bureau websites to dispute items.
2. Pay your bills on time.
Missing even just one payment for more than thirty days can ding your credit score, and it will take time to recover. During your rebuilding credit phase it’s vital that you don’t miss any due dates, notes Experian. Set up automatic payments and text alerts to help stay on track.
3. Try to pay down large balances.
One of the major factors comprising your credit score is how you utilize credit, known as your debt utilization ratio. In other words, how much of your available credit are you using? If you have a $2000 credit limit and you owe $1,000, you are utilizing 50 percent. Equifax recommends trying to get your balances under 30 percent utilization, and as close to zero as possible to optimize that part of your FICO score calculation.
4. Don’t give up on credit.
If your credit score is low enough that it’s preventing you from qualifying for credit products, try easing your transition back to using plastic. You have to prove that you’re able to use credit responsibly in order to help your score recover. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to do that.
TransUnion recommends applying for a secured credit card, which will give you the opportunity to rebuild your credit, but you’ll have to leave a cash deposit to use it. Another alternative is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account, such as a parent or spouse. However, be aware that your credit activity will also affect that other person, so don’t do anything that might ruin your relationships and your scores.
Rebuilding credit is possible for anyone who has the discipline to make good financial decisions and work toward a debt-free lifestyle. It won’t happen overnight, but with consistency and commitment, your credit score will gradually climb higher and higher.