5 Main Factors That Affect Your Credit
Payment History / Public Records
Your payment history represents 35% of your credit score so when you miss a payment, it is extremely detrimental. This is the most important factor by far. This can be somewhat difficult to correct quickly, but it is possible.
How much you owe compared to how much available credit you have is important and it represents 30% of your credit score. This is the easiest factor to quickly adjust in order to fix your credit. There are two components of credit utilization. One is the percentage owed against the max available credit and the other is the total available credit. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit card with a $200 balance, you would be at a 20% utilization rate. However, you would only have $800 of available credit. Contrast that with a $50,000 credit card with $10,000 owed. You're at the same 20% utilization but you have $40,000 in available credit. All else being equal, the second person looks more attractive to the credit bureaus.
Age of Credit History
This represents 15% of your credit score and this is not something that can be corrected or adjusted in any way. Try not to close old accounts and keep in mind that every month that goes by is a benefit to your credit because your accounts are all one month older.
This last item represents 10% of your credit score and is something that can be controlled, but not easily corrected if you're looking to improve your credit score. It is just important to not open new credit on a whim. Many people get convinced to open up several department store credit cards just to get a 10% discount, but it is not worth it, generally.
How to Improve Your Credit | Step-by-Step
Step 1: Pay Down Balances
Try to keep your revolving debt balances somewhere between 10-20% of your available credit. If you have a $1,000 credit card, pay the balance down to $100. Once you do this, it can take 30+ days to reflect so keep the balance low. If you're in the process of getting a mortgage, it is possible to instantly re-score your credit by way of a Rapid Rescore.
Step 2: Ask For Mercy
If you have a single late payment on an account, it is worthwhile to at least try to ask them to remove the late as a 'first time abatement'. They may say no, but it is worth asking.
Step 3: Pay Off Collections, If..
Before you pay off a collection, ask the company to give you a Deletion Letter. You want the collection to be paid AND removed from your credit.
Step 4: Negotiate Payoffs
If you have large collection accounts, it is hard to just pay them off. If it is a struggle, it is better to negotiate the balances down and pay them off now rather than waiting. Of course, ask for a deletion letter.
Step 5: Dispute Dispute Dispute
Pull your free report at www.annualcreditreport.com where you're able to get a free report each year from each credit bureau. While getting the reports, you'll have the ability to dispute accounts. We recommend disputing all negative accounts. You'll find that many items will immediately fall off your credit, especially smaller paid collection accounts. Disputing accounts with balances will not help because every creditor will respond to the credit bureaus. By doing this, you're betting on the creditors not responding.
These are not guaranteed methods to magically increase your credit score, but doing them will help. Many people who have poor credit are afraid to talk to the creditors. This does not help anyone. There are credit repair companies out there that have some strong claims, but short of hiring a service, these are ways that you, as a prospective borrower can repair your credit.