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6 things to do to improve your credit score

Oct. 16, 2022
6 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.


A low credit score can have a serious impact on your life. It can keep you from getting some of our favorite credit cards and affect your ability to get a home or auto loan.

Fortunately, no one is doomed to have a low credit score forever. There are several things you can do to bring your score up and keep it where you want it.

Here's how to improve your credit score.

Take inventory of your credit

First, check your free credit report across all three bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) to see what might be dragging down your score. Check to make sure everything is accurate and dispute any errors that you see.

FICO

If you see a specific area that is bringing your score down, focus on whatever you need to do to improve that area. For instance, if you have had several late payments that are bringing down your score, you'll want to focus on setting up a system to ensure you pay all your bills on time. This is the simplest way to improve your credit score.

Related: How to check your credit score for free

Make the most of your checking account

Your bank is your best friend if you want to improve your credit score. Use your checking account to set up automatic minimum payments on every account you have. Remember, payment history makes up about 35% of your credit score, which makes it the most important factor.

Mistakes linger on credit reports, and the best thing you can do for your credit score is to avoid them. Many banks offer budgeting tools to help track spending and saving as well.

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Related: How to set up autopay for all your credit cards

Keep credit use low

The amount of available credit that you use affects your credit score. Aim to keep it as low as possible, but certainly work to keep it below 30%.

EXPERIAN

If you need to adjust your credit utilization, consider paying down high account balances before they're due. You can also call your bank to request a credit increase. Either of these actions will lower your credit utilization and help improve your credit score.

Related: Here’s why you should never turn down a credit limit increase

Earn credit for paying your bills and maintaining bank balances

If you don’t have a strong credit history, consider Experian Boost, a free service for adding utility and telecom payments to your Experian credit file to build a payment history.

If you’re a saver and have a history of healthy bank balances, UltraFICO may be an option for you. UltraFICO takes checking and savings information into account when calculating scores.

Become an authorized user

If you know someone who has a high credit limit, ask if they're willing to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards. They can do this without even having to give you the card.

As an authorized user, your name is added to the account and it contributes to your credit reports. As a result, the main cardholder's good credit will positively impact your credit score.

This is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your credit score.

Avoid canceling credit cards

The age of your credit lines matters when it comes to your credit score. Because of this, you want to keep credit lines open to increase your credit age.

SHUTTERSTOCK

If you find that you are no longer using a credit card enough to justify its annual fee, opt to downgrade to a card with a lower or no annual fee rather than close the account.

For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could request to downgrade it to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which carries a much lower annual fee, or to the Chase Freedom Flex℠, which doesn't carry an annual fee at all. This would allow you to increase your credit age and improve your credit score while also reducing your annual fee costs.

Related: Should I cancel my credit cards if I don’t use them anymore?

How long does it take to improve my credit score?

It takes a while to fix a damaged credit report. Delinquencies — generally reported to credit bureaus after two consecutive missed payments — remain on your report for seven years. Inquiries can stay on your credit report for up to two years.

(Photo by i_frontier / Getty Images)
I_FRONTIER/GETTY IMAGES

Since this takes some time, it's important to stay consistent with good credit habits. By regularly implementing as many of these tips as you can, you'll be on a solid path to having and keeping a better credit score.

Bottom line

If your low credit score is negatively affecting your life, you aren't alone. However, you can and should take steps to improve it.

Follow our recommendations for how to improve your credit score outlined above, and you'll be well on your way to having and keeping a good credit score.

If you want to learn more about credit scores, check out these links:

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by MASKOT/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

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Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023