Here’s What The Experts Say About Improving Your Credit Score

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Mar. 28 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Cracking the code to a perfect credit score serves as a challenge to most people. Credit boosting hacks, like the 15/3 rule, grow popular but don’t always prove to be sustainable. As you go on your credit journey, it’s important to adopt sustainable practices that help strengthen your score over time. 

Credit scores are numerical indicators that show creditors how likely you are to pay money back on a loan. These scores lay on a scale, with 300 as the lowest score and 850 as the highest. The three credit bureaus, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, collect your personal information and use it to create a credit report. FICO or VantageScore Solutions take this information to create a credit score. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved on loans or new credit cards. Here are a few tips from financial experts and institutions on how you can achieve a high credit score.

Paying Your Credit Card Bill Before The Reporting Date

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Credit card utilization makes up 30% of one’s credit report. Credit card companies recommend users use up to 30% of their credit limit to avoid drops in their credit score. Instead of paying the bill on the due date, NerdWallet recommends users pay off their bill before the reporting date. The reporting date is the day your credit card issuer submits your balance to the credit bureaus. This usually falls before your due date. Paying your credit card bill earlier can help report a lower utilization rate. This can have a positive effect on your credit score. 

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Getting Added To A Family Member’s Credit Card As An Authorized User

If you have little or poor credit history, a family member with a good credit score can add you as an authorized user to their credit card. This serves as an option for those with little or poor credit history looking to increase their score. Tiffany Aliche, also known as The Budgetnista, told NPR how her dad added her as an authorized user to his credit card in order to help her build her credit.

Adding an authorized user to a credit card can have a positive effect on the user’s credit. The main user of the card should be someone who stays on top of their payments. According to Aliche, “yes, you can inherit the good behavior, but you can also inherit the bad. So you want to make sure you are an authorized user on someone who pays off every month in full.” Credit card owners can call their issuer to add a new authorized user to their account.

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Keeping Old Credit Cards Open To Show Credit History

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Credit age, the amount of time a user has had open lines of credit, makes up 15% of a credit score. Fidelity recommends that users keep old cards open because it shows that a user has experience paying back lenders. It strengthens your credit score overall. According to Bankrate, credit bureaus take the average age of your score and use that to determine the number of points to add to your credit score.

In some cases, removing a credit card can lower your overall credit limit. This can make your credit utilization increase, which would make your credit score decrease. Unless there’s a dire reason to remove the card, it helps to keep old accounts open. Fidelity also recommends other tips like disputing errors on your credit report through the credit bureaus using their online services or by mail using this letter template as a guide. 

In October 2023, the three credit bureaus permanently extended their programs with and users are now allowed to receive a copy of their credit report once a week for free. Making a habit of checking your score, plus adopting the above practices, can lead to positive impacts on your credit.

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By: Chinenye Onyeike

Chinenye Onyeike is an NAACP and Webby Award winning producer. She currently works as an associate producer for The Daily Show podcasts and a Her Agenda contributor. She is also a part-time student at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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