You probably already know that you can gradually raise your credit scores over time, by doing things like paying your bills on time and avoiding credit score killers like collection accounts, charge-offs, or bankruptcy.
But what if you need speedy results and want to boost your FICO® score fast?
Maybe you’re planning to apply for a mortgage in the near future. Or perhaps you want to get approved for a great new credit card that offers lots of juicy travel rewards or other perks.
Here are 7 credit scores hacks that can boost your FICO credit score fast – in just two days to two months.
Credit Score Hack #1: Dispute Negative Information on Your Credit Reports
You should always dispute negative data in your credit files that is erroneous, outdated or that can’t be verified. A proper, legitimate credit dispute pays off in two ways.
First, if the negative info is dropped from your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports, you could see a nice bounce in your credit scores the very next month.
Additionally, there’s another little-known fact about filing a bona fide dispute with credit bureaus. When a credit-reporting agency receives a dispute about an account, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires the credit bureau to indicate on the credit report any account that is in dispute.
So you’ll usually see the letter code “XB” on your credit report next to any account that is in dispute and being investigated. These accounts get treated differently than other items in your credit reports.
The net result is that disputed accounts are basically suppressed from your credit history in terms of your credit score. For about 30 days or so, while the bureaus are actively investigating disputed accounts, those accounts are not included when your FICO or VantageScore® are calculated. That could prove helpful if you need a fast, legitimate way to quickly improve a credit score weighed down by erroneous, incomplete or outdated information.
Credit Score Hack #2: Eliminate Credit Card Debt
One of the most straightforward ways to increase your credit scores is to eliminate credit card debt altogether (or at least greatly reduce your balances).
After all 30% of your credit score is based on the amount of credit card debt you’re carrying.
To the extent that you can knock down credit card balances, you’ll more rapidly juice up your credit scores, typically in just 30 to 60 days after you’ve reduced debt.
Credit Score Hack #3: Time Your Payments
Regardless of whether or not you pay off your credit cards in full each month, your credit scores can still be consistently lower than they should be if you pay your bills at the wrong time of the month – meaning right when the bills are due.
The reason this payment pattern can hurt your credit score is that your creditors only report your balances to the credit bureaus once per month. And depending on when your balances are reported, you may appear to be a riskier borrower than you actually are.
So if you want to raise your score in a hurry, pay your credit card balances way before the due date. That way, instead of reporting your balances that were due, as shown on your monthly statement, your credit card company will instead report your reduced balances to the credit bureaus (i.e. the balance left over after you’ve made your most recent monthly payment).
With lower balances reported to the credit bureaus, or even $0 balances for those who pay in full, you’ll soon have higher credit scores.
You can check your credit reports to find out when each of your creditors reports your payments to the credit bureaus, or you can call your credit card issuers and ask. It’s usually on or right after the statement closing date (well before the payment due date).
Credit Score Hack #4: Use Rapid Re-Scoring
If negative, erroneous information is on your credit reports, or even if older data is on there, like last month’s high credit card balances, you could benefit from a process called “rapid re-scoring.” The “rapid re-scoring” credit score hack is only available to people in the market for a mortgage.
Here’s how it works: you apply for a mortgage from the lender of your choice. But if there are mistakes or inaccurate information showing on your credit reports, you have the right to get that cleared up – pronto.
With rapid re-scoring, your mortgage lender reaches out to the credit bureaus on your behalf and supplies them with documentation showing that your credit reports should be immediately updated. The goal is to get erroneous, negative information removed or to get brand new, current data placed onto on your credit reports.
Either way, your lender asks the credit bureaus to instantly refresh and update your credit reports to show the timeliest data available on your account(s). A newly updated credit report then results in a new (typically higher) credit score.
Rapid rescoring is a credit score hack that works super fast, often in just 48 hours, since the credit bureaus prioritize these requests. However, only a lender can initiate this process; you can’t do it yourself. But it is your right to ask for rapid re-scoring when appropriate in order for you to get approved for a home loan or to get the best loan rates and terms available to someone with your credit standing.
Credit Score Hack # 5: Add Rent Info to Your Credit Files
Even if you’re a renter who is not trying to get a home loan, you can use a special credit score hack just for those who don’t own their own residence.
Renters nationwide can have their rental payment history added to their credit reports, and this “non-traditional” payment data can quickly make your credit scores jump – provided, of course, that you’ve been paying your rent on time.
Various studies show that adding rent info to your credit files can increase your credit scores by 10 to 20 points or more, usually within only a month or less after the rental data hits your credit reports.
Note, however, that you can’t add your rental payment information to your credit files on your own. Your landlord has to verify your on-time rent payments and a third-party company, such as RentReporters.com or RentTrack.com, must supply the verified information to the credit bureaus.
Credit Score Hack #6: Try Piggybacking
Piggybacking is a credit score hack where you take advantage of another person’s good credit rating and lengthy credit history.
It’s common for couples to use piggybacking, a strategy where the individual with good or excellent credit permits the other party with “thin” or so-so credit to be added as an authorized user on a credit account, typically a credit card.
Some parents allow their college-age kids to piggyback off of the parent’s strong credit rating – like I did over the past nearly two years with my oldest child.
Initially, I added my now 20-year-old daughter as an authorized user on a credit card I have used for over a decade, which also has a very high credit limit. About 45 days later, my daughter had a credit score in the high 700s.
Later, my husband and I bought my daughter a condo, and we added her to the mortgage, further boosting her credit scores and strengthening her credit history.
Credit Score Hack #7: Swap Bad Debt for Good Debt
From a credit-scoring standpoint, revolving debt – better known as credit card debt – is the “bad” debt that weighs down your credit score. So generally speaking, the higher your credit card debt, the lower your credit scores will be.
But even if you don’t have the cash on hand to eliminate or significantly reduce your credit card bills, you can still boost your credit scores. You just have to convert your credit card debt into the “good” debt – installment debt – that is considered by the credit-scoring world to be less risky and thus more beneficial to your credit scores.
For example, by getting installment loans like personal loans or peer-to-peer loans to pay off credit card bills, you swap bad debt into good debt into terms of your credit scores. The result: you should see a boost to your credit scores within 30 to 60 days after knocking out the credit card debt with an installment loan.
As you can see, improving your credit scores doesn’t always have to be a slow, years-long, arduous process. Using these 7 credit score hacks can boost your credit scores much faster than you ever thought possible.