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Raising credit scores by 200 points is not an impossible task! Probably your credit score is sitting in the lower 600’s or in the upper 500’s because of serious negative marks like collections, bankruptcies, or charge-offs.
Maybe, you’re credit averse and don’t like owing banks or card companies. But you’ll still need to build positive credit behavior.
This guide covers factors that cause scores to lean into the positive or negative. Learn fast solutions on how to increase credit scores and receive a rough estimate of how long it may take.
- How long does it take to raise credit scores by 200 points?
- What Affects the Credit Score?
- Best ways to increase credit scores by 200 points
- Step 1: Reviewing the reports to find errors and optimize scores
- Step 2: Become an authorized user on other people’s accounts: Credit card piggybacking
- Step 3: Consider applying for a secured credit card
- Step 4: Joining and opening credit union accounts
- Step 5: Consider conventional credit rebuilder loans
- Step 6: Monitor reports regularly and adopt better financial habits
How long does it take to raise credit scores by 200 points?
The estimate given by most experts is from 6 months to a few years. But it will depend on a few factors:
- Gaining credit experience from scratch: Raising the scores by 200 points is more feasible for people without credit experience building their histories for the first time. In this case, it will only take six months of positive credit use to become scorable.
- Repairing credit after devastating entries: Anticipate a longer recovery from bad credit if there are significant negative items in your history, for instance, collections or judgments.
- Age of negative entries: Most negative items fall off the report naturally within seven years. The older the negative entry, the less effect it has on the score. That’s why it may take fewer years to recover even after bankruptcies.
- Present score: Yes, the present score may have a role to play in how fast you can raise credit scores by 200 points. Moving from a poor rating to a good or excellent score is easier than improving an already high score.
Of course, you need to adopt some positive behaviors to see the improvements. We will cover all the best strategies, but first, let’s look at factors contributing to the score.
What Affects the Credit Score?
The score is just a rating system used to make sense of the entries in the report. About 90 of the top 100 US lenders use the FICO scoring model.
Ever checked the score on different websites only to discover that it’s varying? That’s because FICO regularly releases different versions of their scoring algorithm. The latest version is the FICO® Score 10, but many lenders and score providers still use the old versions. So, the first thing that may affect the rating is the scoring model used by the lender.
Other top contributing factors include:
Payment history record
Contribution to score: 41% VantageScore, 35% FICO
Creditors submit information about open client accounts with the CRBs. They do this after every billing cycle, which can be 28 to 31 days. So, the report can show if the customer was late on their monthly or biweekly loan repayment.
A late payment is a negative entry made if the last payment is overdue for 30 days. The longer the client is late, the more damaging the late payment entry becomes. A 60-day late payment can lower scores more than a 30-day late payment.
And note that people with excellent scores take the biggest hit following a late payment because it indicates a highly unusual behavior in their spotless history.
Contribution to score: 20% Vantage Score, 30% FICO
The concept applies to revolving accounts such as cards or lines of credit, where the lender provides a limit such as $10,000, and the borrower takes out what they need.
While there is a license to charge a card to its max, it increases the utilization rate. Why is it terrible for credit? Remember that the scoring algorithm helps lenders assess the risk of lending to a new borrower. Overutilizing a credit card may mean that you’re not stable financially and need to take on a lot of debt.
What’s the acceptable limit? Consider a utilization rate of less than 30% on all revolving accounts.
Credit mix & age
Contribution to score: 20% Vantage Score, 25% FICO
Age of credit just refers to the time the borrower has had a certain credit account open. While credit mix encompasses the different types of accounts opened, for instance, revolving accounts, installment accounts, or mortgages.
Scoring algorithms generally consider someone with a long history as having more experience with debt, hence their suitability to take on additional responsibility. Having experience with different accounts also matters.
New credit accounts
Contribution to score: 11% Vantage Score, 10% FICO
Scoring algorithms also check for the number of hard inquiries. Some banks have been known to check if the applicant has applied for new credit about five times in a given year and whether they got denied. The conventional advice given to increase the chances of getting approved for a credit card is to space applications by about 3 or 6 months.
New applications tend to be negative, particularly when they don’t result in new credit. It shows that lenders are finding reasons to turn down the loan requests.
Note that scoring algorithms also consider other factors and the way they calculate the final score remains a closely guarded secret. But focusing on these top factors makes it possible to increase credit scores by up to 200 points.
Best ways to increase credit scores by 200 points
This is the most exciting part, as we will dive into the exact steps to implement to improve scores by up to 200 points:
Step 1: Reviewing the reports to find errors and optimize scores
Start this activity right now if possible. Go to annualcreditreport.com. CRBs are federally mandated to provide free report copies annually.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, all three CRBs have committed to issuing reports every week.
The website offers some pointers when reviewing reports. They recommend checking if the personal identification information such as the name and addresses are correct. You can then proceed to check if creditors have been reporting accurate and fair information. For instance, were you late for only 10 days and the lender reported it as a missed payment? They should have waited for 30 days to elapse.
Some people even get surprised to find information that doesn’t belong to them. In this case, contact the company that reported the entry and ask them to correct it.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act also gives consumers the right to ask CRBs to verify the accuracy of entries. Just find out how to write a 609 dispute letter and submit it online. Equifax, for instance, will start investigating the claim by contacting the creditor. The burden of proof is upon them.
While there is no need to seek credit error identification and disputing services, thousands opt for repair services every day. They take on the burden of challenging the CRBs, freeing up time to focus on other things. We help people find the most reliable and high-performing repair companies. Some of the best credit fix companies right now include Sky Blue, Lexington Law, and Credit Saint.
Disputing errors and having them corrected takes about 30 days to 45 days. If you’re a victim of identity fraud or have serious errors, it may be possible to raise your credit score by 200 points in 30 days.
Step 2: Become an authorized user on other people’s accounts: Credit card piggybacking
Know someone with a better credit history than you? It could be your parents, relative or friend. Consider asking them to make you an authorized user on their card accounts. It’s one of the fastest ways to raise credit scores by 200 points.
When the card company reports their utilization rate and repayments to the CRBs, their positive behavior reflects on your account as well. Their available credit may lower your utilization rate.
Is this practice legal? It’s perfectly okay when there is a relationship between the cardholder and the authorized user. But some companies abuse this privilege by selling access to good credit card accounts to help their customers build positive history and qualify for loans.
Step 3: Consider applying for a secured credit card
Major card companies such as Discovery offer secured credit cards, and this is one of the best ways to raise credit scores. The only difference is that they require a security deposit to be held as collateral.
How much can I expect to deposit, and how much can I spend? Well, the security deposit ranges from $100 to $2,500 for most providers. Depositing $500 means you can only spend up to $500.
Secure cards don’t work like regular cards, and they are really designed to help cardholders build positive history. Top guidelines when using a secured card include:
- Making small charges and clearing the balance at the end of the billing cycle;
- Paying more than the account balance;
- Choosing to pay the outstanding balance multiple times each billing cycle.
The end goal is to successfully graduate to an unsecured card and continue the positive healthy habits developed with the secured card.
Step 4: Joining and opening credit union accounts
Unions are not really focused on maximizing their profits but offering the best rates on loans for their members. They also offer higher rates for savings accounts. Credit unions may target specific groups or maybe regional. We recommend using the NCUA credit union research tool.
It may be several months before you build up trust and start applying for loans. The wait will be worth it because they will offer lower interest rates. Instead of payday loans, many unions offer payday loan alternatives at relatively low rates. Like banks, they also offer long-term installment loans and lines of credit.
Step 5: Consider conventional credit rebuilder loans
Credit rebuilder loans are also designed for people looking to build up their scores, only that they are secured. On the positive side, the requirements are less rigorous. People with histories of foreclosures, collections, or bankruptcies get approved.
We’ve seen two different types of lenders when it comes to rebuilder loans. There are payday lenders who generally charge higher interest rates than alternative lenders, who may be more nationally established. Consider loan matching services and marketplaces to find the best rates.
Step 6: Monitor reports regularly and adopt better financial habits
One of the best habits to establish is prioritizing and paying any bills on time. To avoid thinking about which bills to pay or procrastinating, enable auto-pay for various expenses, including loan repayments. Many people fall behind their payments because of unforeseen events, for instance, job losses. Consider building a sizable emergency fund by enabling automatic savings on checking accounts. The bank will transfer the set portion of your paycheck to a savings account.
Things that cannot increase scores fast:
- Paying off accounts in the collection first: When faced with a choice between collection accounts and credit cards, allocate the cash to lowering balances on cards and avoiding missed payments. Paid off collection accounts still remain on reports for 7 years.
- Closing off old accounts: Keep old accounts open to benefit from the longer credit age. Similarly, maintain a healthy credit mix.
Raising credit scores by 200 points will only require a little patience and a long-term view. Be wary of services or experts that promise rapid improvement secrets. CRBs hold the key to the credit reports and can’t remove legitimate information at will. At the end of the day, the score is just a reflection of your behavior towards debt. Implementing any positive behaviors will be rewarded with more points.
Founder of Credit Repair Partner. I worked in the credit repair industry for about 10 years. I love, helping people become smarter about their credit and finances.