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This article was last updated Nov 01, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
Checking your credit score on a regular basis is a key part of maintaining your financial health. Free credit report services, such as My LendingTree, make tracking your credit score month-to-month easier than ever.
Not only does My LendingTree make tracking your credit score easy, but you’ll also receive insightful tips on how you can improve your score and save money. In fact, using the tips and information provided by My LendingTree, Tom, an employee of the company was able to raise his credit score 100 points in only 30 days.
Here, we’ll review the key factors of your credit score, how Tom raised his credit score 100 points in 30 days, and how you may be able to do the same.
Understanding credit scores
Before you can work on raising your credit score, you first need to understand how credit scores are calculated. There are five key factors making up a FICO score:
- Payment history (35%): Whether you paid on time or not.
- Amounts owed (30%): The total amount of debt you’re carrying divided by the amount of credit that’s available to you across all card accounts as well as on your individual accounts. This is also known as your credit utilization ratio.
- Length of credit history (15%): How long you’ve had credit.
- New credit (10%): How often you apply for and open new accounts.
- Credit mix (10%): The mix of your different credit accounts (i.e. credit card, installment loans and finance company accounts).
The most important thing you can do to improve your credit score is to make sure you always pay your bills on time. Assuming you’ve got that part under control going forward, the next step is to improve your credit utilization rate. In the next section, we share how Tom lowered his utilization rate, helping him raise his credit score 100 points in 30 days.
Tom’s story: How I raised my credit score 100 points in 30 days
Raising my credit score 100 points in less than 30 days was a direct result of lowering my credit utilization rate. I did this by paying off credit card debt and opening a new credit card. Just know that if you follow these two actions, there’s no guarantee your credit score will rise 100 points, but here’s what I did:
1. I paid off a significant amount of my credit card debt.
Before I took these two steps, my credit score was in the low 600s. I had only one credit card with a $3,000 credit limit, and I had racked up about $2,500 in charges. That means my credit utilization rate was 83%. That’s high, especially considering the recommended utilization rate is below 30%.
When I got a nice refund check for my annual tax return, I put $1,500 towards paying down the balance on my credit card. That took me down to only owing $1,000 and made my credit utilization rate just 33%. Still not ideal, but getting better.
2. After that, I followed some good advice and opened up a second credit card account.
I was approved for a new card and granted a $5,000 line of credit. When combined with my other credit card carrying a $3,000 line of credit, this instantly dropped my credit utilization rate down to a very healthy 12.5%.
This meant that the rating on my credit utilization rate went from an “F” to an “A+.” Since this is the second most important factor on your credit report, my score skyrocketed into the 700s virtually overnight!
Just know that when you open a new credit card, you can expect your credit score to temporarily drop a few points due to the credit inquiry. However, it’ll bounce back within a few months and the benefits of opening a new account can help you in the long run.
How you can raise your credit score
If you’re trying to raise your credit score, making on-time payments is critical since payment history is the most important factor of your credit score. Make at least the minimum payment due each month so your good payment history is reported to the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Next, you should work hard to pay down any credit card balances you’re carrying. This will not only boost your credit score, but it will save you money on high credit card interest rates.
Balance transfer credit cards are a great way to kick-start your savings if you don’t have the cash on hand to make a big payment towards your balance. With an intro 0% APR for up to 21 months, every penny of your payment will go towards the principal of your balance during the intro period instead of principal plus interest charges. You’ll have to transfer your existing credit card balance to the new 0% card and most likely incur a 3% balance transfer fee, which will be added to your balance.
See our top picks for the Longest 0% APR Credit Cards.
By opening a new credit card. you’ll receive an additional line of credit that increases your total available credit. If you maintain the same spending that you did prior to opening a new card, you can lower your credit utilization rate. Even if you’re not in a situation where you need to avoid high-interest rates, opening an additional credit card may still help you raise your credit score significantly.
Best credit cards to raise your credit score
In reality, there is no ‘best’ credit card to raise your credit score. All credit cards have the potential to help you improve your credit score. Ultimately, it’s the actions you take that determine whether you have a poor or good credit score. But, if your goal is to increase your credit utilization rate by paying down your balances, these credit cards offer long intro 0% APR periods and great perks to help you meet your goals.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers an intro 0% for 15 months on purchases and an intro 0% for 15 months on balance transfers (after, 14.99% - 25.99% variable APR on purchases and 14.99% - 25.99% variable APR on balance transfers). There is a great $0 balance transfer fee. The balance transfer offer can save you the typical 3% fee most other cards charge. In addition to the intro periods, you can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. Terms apply.
The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
The Chase Slate® has average length intro periods at 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months (after, 17.24% - 25.99% variable APR on purchases and 17.24% - 25.99% variable APR on balance transfers). That’s a decent amount of time to pay off any debt you’ve transferred from a non-Chase card or any new purchases you want to pay over time. There is also a helpful Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. Otherwise, this card is fairly basic with no rewards to write home about — not necessarily a bad thing since rewards could tempt you to overspend.
The information related to the Chase Slate® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
0% for 12 months on Purchases
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
- No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
- If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
- The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
- Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
If you’re looking for an extra long intro APR on balance transfers, look no further than the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever. This card comes with an impressive intro 0% for 21 months on balance transfers in addition to a decent intro 0% for 12 months on purchases (after, 16.24% - 26.24% (variable) APR on balance transfers and 16.24% - 26.24% (variable) APR on purchases). As the name implies, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever prides itself on being a simple credit card — cardholders enjoy a $0 annual fee, no penalty rate and no late fees, ever.
Discover it® Balance Transfer
0% for 18 months on balance transfers & 0% for 6 months on purchases*
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*
13.49% - 24.49% Variable*
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- 100% U.S. based customer service.
- Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- No annual fee.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Balance Transfer
For those who would like to earn rewards on their purchases while they boost their credit score, the Discover it® Balance Transfer offers an excellent cashback program as well as an appealing balance transfer offer. Cardholders earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically. And for new card members, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.* The balance transfer offer provides you with an intro 0% for 18 months (after, 13.49% - 24.49% variable APR). There is also a 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*. The intro offer on purchases is 0% for 6 months, then 13.49% - 24.49% variable APR.
If you’re looking to transfer a balance and avoid pesky balance transfer fees, you should look at credit cards with no balance transfer fee.
The first step in improving your credit should be educating yourself on how credit scores are calculated and what you can do to make a difference. So, if you’ve made it to the bottom of this article, you’re off to a great start.
For those that are new to credit or trying to rebuild a less-than-stellar score, opening another credit card may be the fastest way to boost your credit score. Of course, it’s very important that you spend responsibly and always make your payments on time and keep balances low. But, by opening a new credit card or performing a balance transfer, you could lower your credit utilization rate and may even be able to raise your credit score 100 points.
Consider the Petal Visa® Credit Card when looking to build your credit score without a credit history.
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