If you’ve been reading the Celebrating Financial Freedom blog for long, you know I’m not a big fan of credit scores. In fact, I believe the best credit score is no score at all. So why would I write a post about how to increase your credit score?
Well, in some cases it’s easier to increase your credit score quickly rather than waiting for it to go to zero while you’re in the transition of getting out of debt (which may take months to years).
This might be necessary if you have an immediate need for buying a home or renting a house, for instance.
In this case the goal would be to stay out of the middle territory where a bad score could prevent you from being approved for a mortgage or convincing a landlord to let you rent their property.
The Problem With Credit Scores
Too many people are led to believe that they need to go into debt and build credit so they can get what they need financially, such as a home loan, a car loan, etc.
I won’t go into all the details here, but you don’t need a credit score to succeed in life.
If you insist on taking out loans and using credit, then you want the highest credit rating possible. But if you’re getting out of debt and want to never use consumer debt again, your goal is to have no credit score whatsoever (which is what I teach).
Increase Your Credit Score Without Credit Cards
So if you’re stuck in a situation where you need your credit score to increase, but you don’t want to take on more debt, what do you do?
Well, you have several options available that can still keep you on the path to getting out of debt. You can do these without using credit cards to raise your score if that’s what you need right now.
Below you’ll find some good options that fit the bill…
Look for Credit Report Errors
Scanning for errors is of the quickest things you can do to increase your credit score. According to an FTC study, as many as 25% of credit reports have errors. Many of these errors can result in a lower credit score.
One way you can help correct these errors is by using a credit repair service. I don’t usually recommend that. But if you insist on letting someone else do it for you, find a service that’s highly rated. You can find ratings for those on this handy ratings page for credit repair services at BadCredit.org
Contacting the credit bureau yourself and getting errors fixed may take some time and effort, but it’s definitely worth it. Doing it yourself can increase your credit score without paying fees for someone someone else to do it.
Pay Utilities and Rent on Time
Of course, paying your bills on time is a great way to maintain a good credit score, but only if those on time payments are being reported to the credit rating agencies.
Most landlords and utilities don’t do this.
In the U.S. many utility companies don't report your payments to credit rating agencies, so be sure to contact them and ask them to report it every time you send them a payment.
You should also do this with your landlord if you are a renter. This could help your credit score increase significantly once the credit bureaus have a record of on time payments to consider.
Ecredable is a company that helps you build an excellent score without using credit cards to do it. They record payment information from utility bills, life insurance payments, phone bills, cable bills, and other payments not usually considered in a traditional credit score.
From that information they build your AMP (All My Payments) credit score which is just as legal and valid as any credit score from a traditional credit bureau.
The beautiful thing about the Ecredable AMP score is that you’re making the typical bill payments you always make, without resorting to debt to build a credit score.
Keep Credit Card Balances Low
30% of your credit rating is based on your level of debt. One way to improve your credit score is to pay down credit cards and other debt to a lower level. Of course, I believe having no debt is best. But if you do have credit card debt, keep it small compared to the max amount available on each card.
For instance, if you have a credit card with a $5,000 max, keep the balance at $500 or less. Do this with all your credit cards to maximize your score with the eventual goal of getting out of debt for good.
I’m a firm believer that you don’t need a credit score for any reason. No matter what you need to do financially, it’s just not necessary to go into debt and build a good score so you can qualify to take out more debt.
Why would you want to get into that financial death spiral?
If you need to take out a reasonable mortgage, you can take advantage of manual underwriting if you have no credit score.
Instead of letting a computer decide your mortgage fate based on your score, manual underwriting actually utilizes a human being to assess your finances to see if you can qualify for a mortgage.
There are a few basic criteria you’ll need to qualify for manual underwriting, but a good score is not one of them!
Whether you want to increase your credit score or get rid of it for good, it takes patience.
The world of credit scoring rarely moves quickly. But with a bit of diligence and a lot of patience you can achieve the outcome you’re looking for.
Other Things You Can Do
As I said earlier, I don’t like credit scores. I truly believe you don’t need one to get by in life. I don’t care what the gurus on TV say, true financial freedom comes from having no debt.
So if you want to achieve financial freedom that changes your life for good, here’s what I recommend:
- Decide that you don’t want to live like the average broke person who believes a credit score is necessary
- Get in the habit of doing a monthly budget
- Make a plan for getting out of debt and follow it
- Keep an emergency fund handy
- Never go into debt for anything except a house. Use a reasonable mortgage if you do
Question: What’s your opinion? Do you think I’m crazy for wanting a zero credit score? Do you believe it's a necessity? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or below and tell me what you think.
I wrote this post on behalf of BadCredit.org in exchange for monetary consideration