Credit Repair
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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How to Improve Your Credit Score Fast: 11 Ways to Build Credit Quickly

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

The steps you need to take to improve your credit score fast will depend on the unique information contained in your credit report. However, below are 11 suggestions to help you zero in on what you can do to start building your score back up to where you want it to be.

The exact steps you need to take to boost your credit score will depend on the specifics of your credit profile. However, here’s an overview of the various strategies you can take to help you get started:

1. Check your credit report for errors

If there are mistakes on your credit report, they could be hurting your score through no fault of your own. Disputing the errors can have a big impact.

To do this, start by getting free copies of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus. Carefully read over the reports and check for any errors, such as missed payments that you know you’ve paid or any activity you don’t recognize.

Once you’ve identified them, take steps to dispute credit report errors with the appropriate reporting bureaus.

Estimated time: A few weeks. This step can take longer than some of the other options on this list. It takes time to read through your reports, follow the dispute process and wait for the credit bureaus to investigate and respond to your claim. But, the impact can be substantial and may be worth the effort, especially if you’re planning on applying for new financing in the near future.

How soon you’ll see results: It varies. Once the credit bureaus receive your dispute request, they have 30-45 days to respond to your claim and fix any verified mistakes.


Before considering credit repair

Credit repair companies often advertise that they will dispute errors on your credit report for you in exchange for a fee. However, keep in mind that they will be following the same process outlined above and they don’t have any extra authority to help improve your score. For instance, they can’t remove accurate information from your report and it’ll still take time to receive a response.

2. Prioritize paying on time

Payment history is the single biggest factor that affects your credit score across scoring models. It accounts for 35% of your FICO score and 40% of your VantageScore.

With that in mind, make it a priority to pay your bills on time every month. If you think it might be helpful, reach out to your creditor to ask about changing your due date so it aligns with when you get paid. Then, consider setting up alerts to remind you when it’s time to make a payment. Enrolling in autopay is also an option.

If you’re behind on payments now, work to bring your accounts current ASAP. Each month you’re behind will damage your score further. In addition, think about calling your creditors and asking if they will stop reporting missed payments to the credit bureaus. They may not agree, but it’s worth a shot, especially if you’ve made an effort to get caught up.

Estimated time: Brief, but ongoing. While making payments doesn’t take much time, know that even one missed payment can impact your credit score. So, it’s incredibly important to stay on top of your payments each month. Be sure to at least make the minimum payment as well.

How soon you’ll see results: Results can vary, depending on how many missed payments you’ve had and how far past due they were before you got caught up. Fortunately, the impact of each missed payment fades over time and this information should fall off your credit report entirely after seven years. Adding new accounts and keeping them current can also help improve your payment history.

3. Work to pay down your debts

If your payment history is in good shape, you may want to consider paying down your debts. Your level of debt impacts your credit utilization ratio, which accounts for 30% of your overall FICO score and 20% of your VantageScore. It measures the amount of credit you’re currently using versus the total amount of credit you have available to you. The more debt you’re carrying, the higher this ratio will be.

Lenders look for utilization ratios to be no higher than 30%, although lower is preferred. If yours is currently on the higher end, paying off debt is an effective way to lower it and boost your score at the same time.

Consider using debt payoff strategies, like the debt snowball method or debt avalanche method, to bring it down without otherwise impacting your score.

Estimated time: It depends on the amount of debt you have. If you’re carrying a large cumulative balance, paying down your debts may take a while. If you only have a small amount of debt, you may be able to take care of it fairly quickly.

How soon you’ll see results: Within a month. As soon as you pay off some debt and your new utilization ratio is reported to the credit bureaus, you’ll see your score go up.

4. Become an authorized user

If you have a close friend or family member who has a high credit score, you may want to think about asking them if you can become an authorized user on one of their cards. In most cases, being an authorized user allows the credit bureaus to factor that card’s credit limit and credit history in with your own.

As long as their credit profile is strong, this should help to raise your score. Still, not every credit card issuer reports authorized user data to the credit bureaus, so make sure yours does before getting started.

Estimated time: A few minutes to a few hours. Adding an authorized user is simple and can often be done through the credit card issuer’s online portal. However, you’ll need to talk with your friend or family member first. Be sure to be clear about expectations, especially around whether you’ll be allowed to use the card or if they just intend to add you to the account.

How soon you’ll see results: Very soon. As soon as the credit card issuer reports the new account information to the credit bureaus, you should see your score change.

5. Request a credit line increase

Another way to lower your utilization ratio is by requesting a credit line increase on your credit cards. This method can lower your ratio almost instantly because it adds to the total amount of credit you have available to you while your credit card balances stay the same. The key is to not add to those balances.

If your income has increased since you first opened the card or you’ve built up a spotless payment history over time, you’ll likely have a decent shot at getting approved for a line increase. Just be sure to ask whether a hard inquiry is required, as that can temporarily cause your score to drop.

Estimated time: A few minutes. All you need to do is contact your card issuer and ask about a credit limit increase. It should be able to make a determination fairly quickly after reviewing your credit history.

How soon you’ll see results: Fast. Once your higher limit is reported to the credit bureaus, you should see an improvement in your score.

6. Handle debt in collections

Once you pay off debt in collections, you can ask the collections agency to stop reporting the information to the credit bureaus. You can also dispute the information if it’s incorrect or too old to be listed.

Even if the agency keeps reporting your paid collections, the impact will depend on the credit scoring model used. While the FICO 8 model (which is commonly used) still takes paid collections into account, newer FICO models don’t. VantageScore’s newest model also doesn’t count this activity.

Estimated time: Lengthy. It takes time to pull your credit reports, find any collection information, come up with a plan to settle your debts and execute it. However, if you’re successful in asking them to stop reporting the information, it could have a big impact on your score.

How soon you’ll see results: It depends. The process of removing collections from your credit report could take several weeks to complete. But, once the payoff information is reported to the credit bureaus, you should see results fairly quickly, especially in situations where newer credit scoring models are being used.

7. Consider opening a secured card

When you need to build your credit from scratch, getting a secured credit card can help you start creating a positive payment history. Secured cards are easier to qualify for than traditional credit cards because they’re backed by a cash deposit, which is typically paid up front and acts as your credit limit.

Once the deposit is paid, these cards will work the same as a traditional credit card, allowing you to spend up to your credit limit and pay down your balances as you are able. Your payment information will be reported to the credit bureaus in the same way as well.

Estimated time: Several months. You’ll need to build a positive payment history over time by creating a record of on-time payments that are over the minimum amount.

How soon you’ll see results: Gradually. Using a secured card to boost your credit history is about consistency. If you commit to making on-time payments, you should see your score improve over time.

8. Get credit for other payments

If you have a thin credit file, tools like Experian Boost can help you build it out by including payment information for expenses that usually aren’t included in a credit report, such as rent and utilities.

This information may not be considered by all scoring models. However, where it is considered, a long record of on-time payments will help pad your payment history and improve your score by extension.

Estimated time: Minimal. All you need to do for your information to be considered is set up an account.

How soon you’ll see results: As soon as the information is reported to the credit bureaus, you should see a change in your score.


Try LendingTree Spring

If you’re working on building your credit score, consider enrolling in LendingTree Spring. This tool gives you in-depth insights into what you can do today to boost your score as much as possible.

9. Limit how often you apply for new credit accounts

Each time you apply for a new form of credit, a hard inquiry is generated on your credit report, which can temporarily ding your score. Having too many hard credit inquiries at once can lower your score.

The one exception to this is interest rate shopping. Inquiries for the same financing product that are made within the same 14-day period will generally count as one inquiry in the eyes of the credit bureaus. This is done to make it easier for consumers to shop around for the best rates.

Estimated time: Ongoing. The number of new credit accounts you have makes up 10% of your overall FICO score and 11% of your VantageScore. To that end, it’s best to think carefully before applying for too many new credit accounts at the same time.

How soon you’ll see results: It may take a while. New account information will typically fall off your credit report within two years of when the account was first opened.

10. Keep old accounts open

The age of your oldest credit account also impacts your credit score. Generally speaking, the longer your credit history is, the better. With that in mind, think twice before closing your accounts, especially ones that you’ve had for a while.

Estimated time: Ongoing. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO score and 21% of your VantageScore, so it’s a good idea to keep old accounts open for the long haul.

How soon you’ll see results: Gradually. You may see a small impact as your credit history lengthens. However, you’re more likely to see a negative impact if you accidentally close your longest-held account.

11. Work on your credit mix

Credit mix refers to the different types of credit that you have available to you. This metric is only considered by FICO scoring models and accounts for the remaining 10% of your overall score.

If you currently only have credit cards to your name at the moment, taking out a small personal loan could potentially boost your score. Likewise, if you only have installment loans, opening up a credit card might help to differentiate your credit mix.

Estimated time: A few days. Usually applying for a new credit account and receiving funding happens fairly quickly.

How soon you’ll see results: Fast. As soon as the new account information is distributed to the credit bureaus, you may see a change.

Unfortunately, there is no set timeline for how long it takes to raise your credit score. The time it takes to improve your score will depend on the individual factors that are impacting it and the steps you take to change them.

For instance, if your score is low because you don’t have much of a credit history at all, opening up a secured card and establishing a pattern of on-time payments will likely help boost your score fairly quickly. But, if you’re trying to overcome multiple missed payments and accounts in collections, it may take longer to see substantial improvement.

However, the impact of negative events on your credit score does lessen over time, and these events will fall off your credit report entirely, usually within seven to 10 years. Plus, following the steps above can help you add positive information to your credit report in the meantime.

Some steps, like becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card or requesting a credit limit increase, may help boost your score in a matter of minutes. However, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to boost your credit score will depend on the unique factors that are influencing your credit report.

Paying off a loan can temporarily ding your score because closing an account can impact the length of your credit history. This metric accounts for 15% of your FICO score and 21% of your VantageScore.

It depends on the unique circumstances contained in your credit report. Opening too many new accounts at once can temporarily lower your score. But, adding a new credit card account can also influence your credit mix, which can also help improve your score.