Do you need to raise your credit score? Maybe you want to qualify for a personal loan (Payoff’s personal loan raises your credit score by 40+ points), car loan (Auto Credit Express grants it on a bad credit too) or even a home mortgage. Different purchases require different credit scores, so your goal may depend on what you want to qualify for.
A credit score can range from 300 to 850. Generally speaking, you would need a minimum credit score of 600 to qualify for a car loan. But this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. Some lenders may require a higher score, according to CarFax.
If you don’t meet the minimum requirement, you may be denied a loan and thus be unable to buy a car. However, sometimes you can find a lender who will approve you for a loan with a credit score as low as 500.
This favor comes at a price, however.
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Low Credit Score, High-Interest Rate
The interest rate on a new car loan is about 4.5 percent, (depending on how many years your loan is), and the interest rate for a used car is about 8.5 percent. With a low credit score, the interest rates increase to 13 percent and 18 percent, respectively.
If you want to buy a home, most lenders will want you to have a credit score of at least 600, according to QualifiedMortgage.org. However, if you apply for a Federal Housing Administration loan, you may get by with a score as low as 580. If you qualify for this, you will be required to put down 3.5 percent instead of the customary 3.
So it pays, literally, to raise your credit score before making a big purchase. When you have bad credit, raising the number 100 points often isn’t enough to make a difference, so many people want to know how to raise their credit score by 200 points.
Request a Free Copy of Your Credit Report
You can’t raise your credit score, however, until you know why it is so low in the first place. You may have an idea — you missed some payments or made them late — but you should get a copy of your credit report to be sure. The report may have information about accounts or payments that you forgot about. Or, if you were married or had joint accounts with others, you may be dismayed to find items on your credit report regarding financial transactions you never even made.
Once you know where you went wrong, you can work on beginning to correct the problem. If you discover any mistakes on your report, the Federal Trade Commission tells you how you can try to get them corrected. Start by writing to the reporting agency — Equifax, TransUnion or Experian — telling them about the error and including documentation. They will then launch an investigation.
Disputing an item on your credit report takes time, and you don’t always win in the end. If the creditor refuses to update or delete the report, you can request that the reporting agency keep your documentation on file to at least show that you disagree with the report. This will not help raise your credit score, but a lender may accept your lower score based on the possible inaccuracy of the report.
Keep a track of your credit score- check it here. It takes efforts to raise your credit score by 200 points, but it can be done.
To Raise Your Credit Score 200 Points, Pay Off Balances
If you have bills in collections that are on your credit report, prioritize the ones that will be removed from your report if you pay them. Contact each creditor and ask them if they will remove the delinquent account from your credit report if you pay in full. Some will and some won’t.
Paying a debt doesn’t automatically erase the late payments you made in the past. So while you will eventually need to pay all the debts (unless you declare bankruptcy, which will destroy your credit score), in some instances, doing so will not immediately improve your credit score. So if you’re looking to raise your credit score 200 points, first pay the creditors who will delete their filings on your report.
Next, aim to pay off your credit card balances. How much of a balance you carry affects your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio — both of which affect your ability to get a loan.
Say you have three credit cards, each with a limit of $5,000. Two you have maxed out, and one is at $3,000. Your utilization rate for the first two cards is 100 percent, and for the third, it’s 60 percent. Thus, your utilization rate for all your credit cards is 86 percent.
Keep Your Utilization Rate Low
Experian says you should try to keep a utilization rate of no more than 30 percent, and less is better. A high utilization rate indicates that you may:
- Not be earning enough money to pay your bills
- Are irresponsible with money
- Have gotten yourself in over your head
- Make bad decisions
Whether this is, in fact, true doesn’t matter — it’s about how it looks. The quicker you pay down — or pay off — your balances, the better off you are and the higher your credit score will be.
Get a Secured Credit Card to Help Raise Your Credit Score 200 Points
If you cut up your credit cards when you were having financial difficulties, good for you. Getting rid of credit cards can be incredibly difficult. Plus, it can even be a hardship, because you no longer have the convenience of ordering items online that aren’t available in stores, or reserving hotel rooms or rental cars.
But once you feel you have conquered the problem that got you into the mess in the first place, it might be hard to get a bank to give you a credit card, based on your credit history. And you need to get one and make payments on time to show you have changed your ways and you are now worthy of a car or home loan.
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In cases like these, you may need to turn to a secured credit card. With a secured card, you put money in escrow to guarantee your purchases. For instance, you can apply for a $500 secured credit card. If approved, you put up $500 to guarantee the bank will get paid if you max out the card and don’t make the payments.
Your goal would be to charge no more than 30 percent ($150) each month and pay the bill in full when it comes. After doing this for a period of time, you will improve your credit score and be eligible to get a nonsecured card.
If you don’t have the $500 to put up, you may be able to get a friend or relative to cosign for you, guaranteeing they will pay the bill if you don’t. Got bad credit? Try these credit cards for bad credit.
Inquiries Are Bad for Your Credit Score
Another tactic to raise your credit score by 200 points or more is to try to get inquiries removed from your report. Every time you apply for credit or a loan, the lender checks your credit report, and this check goes on the report. If you have applied for lots of credit accounts and been denied — or even if you have been approved, it makes it look like you are desperate to get more goods and services than you can afford.
However, if a store or lender pulls your credit report without your approval, you can request this inquiry be removed from your credit report.
Experian says not all inquiries are bad, however, so focus on getting the more damaging ones removed.
Pay All Your Bills on Time, in Full
Going forward, make every effort not to neglect other bills like utility and phone bills or medical bills. A paper bill that comes in the mail can easily get lost, so it’s a good idea to have automatic payments set up for your utilities. Also, keep an eye out for medical bills. If you are not expecting them, you may throw the bills away without opening them, mistaking them for junk mail.
While a medical facility or utility will likely not report delinquency to an agency for being late one time, if you are 90 days late on any of these bills, it could affect your credit score. It’s hard enough to find the money to pay bills on time; you don’t want to be penalized if you have the money and simply forgot to pay the bill.
Timeline on Raising Your Credit Score
But, you may wonder, how fast can I raise my credit score by 200 points? Technically, it can be done in a matter of months. But practically, if you had the money on hand to pay off your debts and get a secured credit card, you probably would have already done it.
But at least now you can see that it can be done, and you can start saving and paying down your debt with a goal in mind: raising your credit score by 200 points.