Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation (at no cost to you) when you click on links to those products. Read our Disclaimer Policy for more information.
Are you tired of reading outdated tactics about how to improve your FICO credit score? I thought so. After hours of research and first-hand testing, we found the best credit hacks.
Whether you have bad or good credit, these credit hacks work. Today, we cover and bring to fruition credit hacks that are kept under wrap and are lesser-known.
These hacks are for the real credit aficionados who are determined to improve their credit and reach the coveted perfect credit score.
Without further ado, here are the best credit hacks to try today.
Credit Hacks to Raise Your Credit Score
Backed by hours of research and user-testing, these are the best of the best. Ultimately, these credit hacks will help you improve your credit score.
Experian Boost is a FREE way to instantly raise your credit score fast. Yes, that is right. It is 100% FREE and a proven method to increase your credit score. To date, Experian Boost has helped millions of Americans improve their credit and is our favorite credit hack. In fact, we encourage everyone to tap into the power of Experian Boost.
How it Works
Experian Boost is the only service that allows consumers to get credit for their phone and utility bills. This added advantage is what allows your credit score to increase almost immediately. Why? Since your earliest days, you probably have had a mobile phone, which you made monthly payments to.
Furthermore, you also had utility bills you paid for or are currently paying for. Do you ever remember paying for internet? WiFi? What about cable? These previous payments are added to your credit file.
Adding both phone and utility bills to your credit file shows positive payment history, which is a primary variable for calculating your credit score.
How to Get Started
- Head over to Experian.com
- Connect Your Bank Account(s) that you use to pay your monthly and annual bills.
- Verify the Positive Payment History
- Enjoy the Added Credit Score Boost Immediately
As you can see, using Experian Boost is quick and easy. Best of all, it is entirely FREE. It doesn’t hurt to at least give it a try, right? Especially when the average person sees a beautiful 13-point increase.
>> Want to Learn More? Read our full Experian Boost Review
2. Monitor Your Credit Report and Dispute Errors
As a consumer, you can request free copies of your credit report from the three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. I recommend you request all three and sift through the report line-by-line.
In a Federal Trade Commission study, they found that five percent of consumers had at least one error on their credit report.
Check over each report for any errors or mistakes, such as unpaid balances, recurring entries, or purchases you did not make. Dispute this error immediately. With Experian Boost, you get your credit report for free!
3. Remove Negative Items from Your Credit Report
If you identify any negative items on your credit report, then you want to make sure those are removed immediately. You can either do this yourself or turn to a professional who has years of experience, like Credit Saint.
A credit repair company will review your credit report and will file all disputes with the three credit bureaus on your behalf.
These professionals are known to remove all negative items from your credit report, regardless of how complex the issue may be. Save your time and money, work with a credit repair company, and get it done immediately.
The process is painless and easy. In fact, most consumers see success fairly quickly and are able to repair their credit.
>> More: Best Credit Repair Companies
4. Keep Multiple Credit Cards
The jury is still up in the air on this one, but most credit experts will agree that you need to have multiple credit cards to maximize your credit score. From my experience, the ideal number is three.
But I know people who have more and have a credit score over 800.
It is important to note that you do not need to use every credit card regularly. I have one credit card I use regularly, and then use the other two at least once a month for small purchases, such as for gas or if I eat out.
Tips for Managing Multiple Credit Cards:
- Do not overspend! Sometimes credit cards feel like free money, but let me assure you, it is not. Not being able to pay off your credit card each month will only put you into more debt and will hurt your credit score even more.
- Make Monthly Payments. This goes without saying. If you can make each payment monthly, then the better off your credit score will be. Overtime this positive payment history compounds and your credit score will increase each year.
>> More: Best Credit Monitoring Services
5. Pay Down Your Installment Loans
Like all personal finance gurus, the best thing you can do is pay down all outstanding loans. Why? This gets you out of debt (cha-ching) and increases your credit score.
The faster you can pay off your student loans, mortgage, auto loan, and personal loan, the better.
Look, paying off debt is hard. We get it. However, if you can afford to make an extra payment every month or at least every other month, then do it. The faster you can pay off your debt, the more your credit score will increase.
It is that simple.
6. Keep Your Credit Utilization under 25%
Lowering your credit utilization is an easy credit hack and is proven to work wonders. It boils down to keeping your credit card balances below 25% of available credit. Let’s walk through a quick example.
Let’s say Mary has four credit cards, each with $3,000 credit limits. Mary will need to keep each credit card balance below $750 each month. This will optimize her credit utilization and improve her credit score.
Bonus Fact: Credit Card balances are reported each month to the three credit bureaus. So, if you can keep your credit utilization below 25% and make each monthly payment, then you are sitting pretty.
7. Keep All Credit Accounts Open
Make sure to keep all your credit accounts open. This will decrease your credit utilization. It does not matter if you no longer use that account, just keep it open. If it is an old credit card, feel free to throw it away, but keep the card active and the dang account open!
8. Increase Your Credit Limits
Increasing your credit limit is easy. To use this credit hack, all you need to do is ask your credit card provider to increase your credit card limit. For examples, let’s say your current credit limit is $2,000.
Ask your financial institution to increase it to you $2,500 or $3,000.
If you decide to increase your credit limit, make sure you increase it enough so you can keep your credit utilization below 25%. But remember, increasing your credit limit results in a hard credit inquiry.
This will result in a slight decrease in your credit score but will resolve itself shortly. Do not worry.
9. Apply for a Mortgage
This credit hack will depend entirely on your individual financial situation. If you can apply and afford a mortgage, then your credit score is good enough to receive a large sum of money from a financial institution.
A mortgage sends shockwaves to all three credit bureaus. It shows that you are truly creditworthy, and looks fantastic on your credit report (if you make monthly payments).
Ultimately, it will increase your credit score. A mortgage is a holy grail when it comes to improving your overall credit.
10. Reduce Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio is the amount of debt you (currently) have versus your income. The higher your debt-to-income ratio, the lower (or worse) your credit score will be.
How to Calculate:
- Add up your monthly debt payments
- Add up your gross monthly income
- Divide your monthly debt payments from your gross monthly income
Therefore, it is crucial to pay off your debt as quickly as possible. The lower your debt-to-income ratio is, the better your credit score will be.
11. Avoid Balance Transfers
While a simple balance transfer may consolidate your debt onto one account, it certainly does not get rid of it. Avoid the hassle entirely and pay off your debt. No matter where your debt is, the three credit bureaus will find it.
The only thing you need to focus on is paying it off, so get to it!
12. Avoid Applying for New Credit
As we alluded to earlier, hard inquiries negatively impact your credit score (lower it). Avoid applying for new credit. Unless you are applying for a mortgage, there is no need to incur more debt.
From our personal experience, the less hard inquiries you have on your credit report, the better. But remember, hard inquiries only stay on your credit report for one year then they ‘fall off.’
13. Close Secured Credit Card Accounts
Secured credit cards are a hidden gem for those with bad credit; however, once you are done using your secured credit card, make sure to close the account.
Only close it though if you have had it for a few years, established positive payment history, and no longer have bad credit. By now, you should be able to apply for a credit card with American Express, USAA, Discover, Chase, or Citi. These credit cards are far more advantageous and lucrative.
14. Purchase a Tradeline
Purchasing a tradeline is one option if you are looking to improve your credit score quickly. Just like stocks or bonds, credit tradelines can be bought or sold.
With a tradeline, you essentially piggyback your way onto someone else’s credit profile, and benefit from their good financial habits, such as paying off debt in full and never missing a payment.
Check out the two resources we have if you want to move forward with this route:
Credit Hacks Frequently Asked Questions:
Can You Cheat Your Credit Score?
No, you cannot cheat your credit score. Cheating your credit score is known as fraud, which is a big no, no.
Fortunately, if you are looking for a quick credit score increase, then use Experian Boost. It is the fastest FREE way to increase your credit score.
The FICO scoring system is designed to prevent manipulation. Their scoring system bolster’s integrity within America’s financial system and ensures it remains intact.
How can I wipe my credit clean?
You cannot wipe your credit clean. However, you can implement these credit hacks to clean up your credit.
- Submit Disputes with all three credit bureaus
- How to Write Debt Validation Letters
- How to Remove Collections from your credit report
- How to Remove Negative Items from your credit report
- How to Remove late payments from your credit report
Bottom Line: Legit Credit Hacks to Improve Your Credit Score
As you can see, there are a handful of credit hacks you can implement to improve your score. In summary, it boils down to paying off any outstanding debt, making monthly payments, and lower your credit utilization.
Remember, the better your credit score is the better rates you will get, and will allow you to open a checking account or apply for a new credit card. This is why it is important to care about your credit score.
If you are looking for a quick way to increase your credit score for FREE, then we highly recommend you try Experian Boost. This tool is our favorite credit hack, and a strategy we encourage everyone to use.