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How to build your credit score fast: It might not take as long as you think

Anxious to improve your credit score without delay? Consider these seven expert tips.
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Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Marc Wojno

Good credit is key to building a healthy financial future. 

As interest rates continue to rise, it's more important than ever to ensure that your credit is either "very good" or "exceptional." The benefits of having such upper-tier credit are worth the time and effort to build it. For starters, good credit enables you to borrow money at a lower interest rate, receive better terms and deals on credit cards and cell phones, and receive a better, lower interest rate on a home mortgage. What's more, a solid credit score demonstrates to lenders that you're reliable at keeping your promise of repaying money that's loaned to you. 

But what if your credit isn't in good standing or if you're just getting started building your credit? You're not alone. In the first quarter of 2022, ended March 31, credit card balances rose year-over-year to $841 billion, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The national average credit card debt among cardholders with unpaid balances was $6,569. That kind of debt can give your credit score quite the beating, but don't fear, there's still hope you can build a better credit score.

If you suffer from a less-than-optimal credit score, we can show you how to build credit fast so you can get the things you and your family need.

What is a good credit score? 

There are two kinds of credit scores: the Experian score and the FICO Score. The FICO Score is used more often, but both are used interchangeably, depending on each individual.

The FICO scale runs from 300 to 850, with the latter reserved only for those with the best credit. From there, it ranges from good to fair to bad, depending on your numerical score

FICO® Credit Scoring 8 Model

Poor

Fair 

Good

Very good 

Exceptional

300 - 579

580 - 669

670 - 739

740 - 799

800 - 850

How to build your credit fast

Eager to improve your credit score? ZDNet offers the following steps to help you bolster your numbers without prolonged delay or added stress. 

1. Request a copy of your credit report.

You won't know what you need to fix if you don't know what's broken. You can get a free copy of your credit report through either Annual CreditReport.com or Experian's Free Credit Report, which allows you to see your updated FICO Score every 30 days. It is also an invaluable tool to help you monitor your growth from month to month, so you know your options when it comes to applying for a credit card or loan.

2. Confirm your credit report.

Another benefit of your credit report is that it can inform you of erroneous information, which can negatively impact your credit score. Because your credit report lists the items against you, you can confirm or refute whether each item is correct and whether it is a late payment or a closed account. It is a quick way to build your credit fast and without much trouble at all. Just file a credit report dispute with the three credit reporting agencies -- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion -- to fix the incorrect information, and watch your score climb over time. 

3. Make timely payments to improve your debt utilization score.

Be sure to pay your debts as quickly as possible. Making timely payments helps improve your credit score fast because it shows that you are a responsible borrower and are able to repay your debts. Your debt-to-income ratio shows how much credit you have versus your outstanding debt. Your credit utilization score can help you determine whether you have room to get that new car or upgrade to a better credit card.

4. Become an authorized user.

Sometimes, you can benefit from someone else's credit. If you have a close family member or friend who you trust, ask if you can become an authorized user on the account. You can benefit from that person's higher credit limit, and being an authorized user adds another account to your credit score, and helps you achieve a balanced ratio of debt to credit (ideally below 30%). 

5. Apply for a secured credit card or loan.

A secured loan is another option for building your credit fast when you have bad credit. This type of loan requires that you pay in advance in exchange for a line of credit. After a period of responsible use, you may be able to trade in your secured credit card for an unsecured credit card. A secured loan is another recommended way to build credit fast.  

6. Increase your credit limit.

Over time, life changes. You may now have a dual income from marriage, or perhaps you got a raise at work and are making more money. Whatever the reason, positive changes like those could impact your credit limit. If you request an increase to your credit limit, your credit score could benefit from a better balance of your credit utilization ratio.   

7. Commit to your cards.

Don't go on an application spree and begin applying for credit cards left and right. Constantly running your credit can compromise your credit score. Instead, keep the ones you have and focus on making responsible, timely payments. Over time, you will see improvement in your credit score when you stick to a credit utilization level below 30%.  

Bottom line

Building your credit need not be a Herculean task. In fact, your credit score isn't cast in stone, but is, rather, a score that evolves over time. If you have a bad credit score now, you can improve it faster than you think if you take a proactive and responsible approach using the steps above. Start managing your use of credit cards and reviewing (and updating) your credit reports to keeping your credit utilization level below 30%. 

When you can be trusted to repay what you owe, you might just be surprised at how quickly you can build credit and improve your credit score. 

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