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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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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
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  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
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 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • 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

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more