I’ve been there, done that, took the picture and got the t-shirt to match. I GET IT!! Everyone keeps telling you that you can increase your credit score but doesn’t tell you in-depth how to accomplish it. Look no further today you get a tried and true quick lesson. I have used all 3 of these tips and improved my score more than 100 points (that’s nothing to sneeze at.) Let’s get started…
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NUMBER ONE: GET A SECURED CREDIT CARD
Get a secured credit card. First things first, make sure you do your research on the credit card company issuing the card, ALL SECURED CREDIT CARDS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. Watch out for hidden fees and high annual rates. Fees are to be expected with this type of credit card but they should be reasonable and affordable. The Discover it Secured Credit card is an awesome option (if you get approved) they offer a refund of your secured deposit after a good payment history has been established (converting it from secured to unsecured,) free FICO credit score access, no annual fee and you even earn cash back rewards on every purchase that they match your first year as a customer. The current secured credit card in my wallet is the First Progress Platinum card issued by MasterCard; it was easy to apply for and they report to all 3 credit bureaus every month. The annual fee is $39 (try to stay under $50,) I consider this fee the cost of doing business it’s a pay for play game. You pay the credit card companies to report your good payment history to the credit bureaus for a yearly fee.
Now you have your card in hand, what do you do with it?…HOW DO YOU USE YOUR CARD TO RAISE YOUR SCORE?
Pay off your balance IMMEDIATELY!!! Remember we are trying to increase our credit score, so no vacations, shopping or mindless spending U-N-L-E-S-S you pay it off immediately. Immediately can either be as soon as you receive your statement OR the way I do it is, whenever I swipe my card I IMMEDIATELY log onto my bank account and schedule an online bill payment for that same amount and send it, that also saves me from ever getting in a jam of not having the money to cover the bill which could happen if you wait to make payment when you receive your statement. I utilize my credit buy paying it off in a timely manner, avoiding high interest rates and late fees by paying on-time and bringing the card to a zero balance. Using your secured card this way will definitely increase your credit score in no time.
**Note: make sure to monitor your credit report to make sure your payments and usage are being reported as a result to the 3 credit bureaus. Use the Credit Sesame App to monitor your credit report, get more information HERE.
NUMBER TWO: DISPUTE INACCURACIES
Although this tip can quickly up your credit score, it can be a tedious task to complete. Once you have accessed your credit report and score by using an app such as Credit Sesame (or by going online to annualcreditreport.com) scan to see if everything on it is correct; your name, address, accounts and inquires. Are all the accounts listed listing correct information, such as the amount owed, the length of the account, the owners name and your payment history? These are all things that can (and should) be disputed. When I started monitoring my credit I noticed that one company (a 3rd party collection agency) was listing a past debt from the same company for two different amounts. To begin I wrote a letter to them asking them to send me proof that the debt was legit (get a copy of the dispute letter HERE.) I sent the letter certified mail via USPS (if you have never sent anything certified just prepare you letter and head to the post office they will do the rest) and waited for them to respond with proof (they legally have 30 days to respond.) I received my green card back from the certified mail showing that they signed for my letter about a week later, then in about another week I received documentation from them (at this point they had not removed the item from my report) I looked over the documentation THEY provided and noticed I had not signed any part of the contract in fact the contract was signed and dated by someone else completely. At this point I think they thought that I would take that as proof and settle…NO WAY!
I went online and filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as the Attorney General in my state accusing the collection agency of reporting invalid information on my credit report. Then I sent the collection agency another letter (Collection Followup Letter) and stated that the documents that were sent to me did not prove that the debt was valid, in fact; it did just the opposite and demanded them to remove it immediately. In the envelope with the letter I included copies of the complaints filed with both the CFPB and the Attorney General.
Within a few days I received a letter from the third party collection agency stating that the debt had been removed from all 3 credit bureaus and that I no longer had any association with the debt. It was as simple as that.
NUMBER THREE: PAY DOWN YOUR DEBT!
Sounds simple, but money’s tight and bills are due…I know…I know! I don’t expect you to look over your credit report and pay off all your debt today you need to come up with a plan. Keep reading I have that covered for you too…
In order to pay down your debt you must know what you owe and to who. Keep track of all this information on a printout similar to the one available here on this printout. You can list the name of the creditor, payment amount and the remaining balance. All these things are essential to track in order to be successful in paying down your debt.
Now we get to the plan: The Snowball Debt Plan
It’s an easy plan; you start by listing all your debts in order from smallest to largest amount owed.
Decide that you will make at least the minimum payment on all debts listed.
Figure out how much extra cash you can use to pay down the smallest debt first.
Pay the minimum plus anything extra until it is paid off. (Depending on the debt such as car payments and mortgages whenever you pay extra make sure to specify to the company to apply it towards the principle amount and not interest.)
Once a debt is paid in full, take the amount that you were paying towards the old minimum payment as well as any extra funds from the paid off debt (the 1st debt) and roll it over (hence the name Snowball) to the second (now 1st debt.)
Now WASH, RINSE AND REPEAT until all your debt has been eliminated.
A person has the following amounts of debt and additional funds available to pay debt (the debt is listed with the smallest balance first, as recommended by the method):
- Credit Card A – $350 balance – $25/month minimum
- Credit Card B – $1000 balance – $100/month minimum
- Car payment – $500 balance – $50/month minimum
- Loan – $5500 balance – $250/month minimum
- There is an additional $200/month extra that can be devoted to repayment of debt.
First couple of month’s payments would be made as follows:
- Credit Card A – $225 ($25/month minimum + $200 additional available)
- Credit Card B – $100/month minimum
- Car payment – $50/month minimum
- Loan – $250/month minimum
Once Credit Card A’s balance is zero, move on to paying down Credit Card B with the same approach.—-Wikipedia
Stay diligent, and work the plan I have confidence that you will be successful in the same way that I was in raising my credit score.
I want to hear about your progress and any questions you may have, leave them below I look forward to hearing from you!