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After years of feeling like a pawn in the game of credit bureau thrones, many of us refuse to look at our credit reports until it’s absolutely necessary because we are terrified of what we might find. I was the same way, but now that I reflect on the information I had at the time, those fears were entirely justified. Millions of people in the United States are left in the dark when it comes to understanding credit and the actions required to improve a credit score. Because of this, many people want to know if raising your credit score fast is something that can be done or is it just another financial myth.
Getting a higher credit score opens up many financial doors, including lower interest rates and even getting certain jobs. It is entirely possible to raise your credit score fast, but to do it effectively will require a shift in mindset for most people. In this article, we will discuss the process of raising your credit score fast and how I used a simple shift in mindset to deliver big results.
Raising your credit score fast is easier than you think
For years my credit score limped along, never making any significant movements, and I couldn’t understand why. I went years without even having a late payment on any credit cards, and I barely used my cards, frequently deferring to my debit card to ensure I was being as responsible as possible.
If only I had taken the initiative to pull back the curtain to truly understand the factors that made huge differences in my credit score. However, as with many people in America, my education on credit came in the form of small consumable chunks over the course of years, mainly from three sources: my parents, my television, and my friends. These information sources emphatically taught me that credit was inherently a tool that could do more harm than good and that you should restrict the use of credit cards except only in situations where you absolutely needed them. And above all else, make sure you pay credit card bills off immediately.
While this information did help prevent some of the devastating effects that irresponsible credit card use can have on a credit score, it completely missed a few critical pieces of information that kept me from raising my credit score fast. In addition to understanding the impact that credit cards can have on your credit score, I’ve found that most people are also missing out on the monster benefits that can come from signing up for credit cards, and how they can leverage them for free travel, tons of rewards on spending, other fantastic perks.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to provide sound financial advice, as you should always consult a professional. This article is designed to give you an example of how I personally was able to make a substantial financial shift and change my mindset on credit usage.
Raising your credit score fast is a simple strategy that’s easy to miss
I frequently get asked if raising your credit fast is a simple process. My favorite story to tell is how I elevated my score by 16 points, made more than $3k in the process, and did all of this in a 3-4 month timespan. While this may sound impressive, what shocked me the most was how easy the process was once I understood the steps, which were the following:
- Applying for multiple new credit cards
- Aligning my new credit cards with my old spending behaviors
- Hitting multiple credit card signs up bonuses
I know this strategy may seem too simple but stick with me. The result of this approach raised my credit score 16 points and got me over $3,000 in rewards point bonuses in just three months. And in this post, I will walk you step by step how I did it. You may find other articles on the internet that may claim to have techniques to raise your credit 50 or 100 points overnight. But you should keep in mind if it was that easy to boost your score that dramatically overnight then everyone would be walking around with 800+ credit scores.
There are some highly credible credit repair services that have worked with millions of people helping them fix issues in their credit and can provide you with online tools to help determine areas for improvement. However, for this article, I want to give the techniques that I have personally used that worked for me, and hopefully you as well.
Stumbling upon credit score success
The irony of my credit story is that I stumbled upon this technique by pure accident. I was logged into my online credit card account and had the intention of only paying a few bills as usual. But this time, I decided to take advantage of the free credit score service that came with my account. Over the last few years, I have checked my credit here and there, but when I looked at it this particular time, I was stunned! Over the first three months of the year, I realized that my score had jumped up 16 points, which is one of the most substantial increases I had noticed in such a small timeframe.
Now keep in mind, historically, my score held pretty steadily with very slow growth. I always had assumed that raising my credit score would be a long, arduous process, regardless of how many bills I paid on time. In fact, according to my credit report, my oldest credit line was 13 years old, and to my knowledge, I have never had a late payment. I understand that not everyone can say they have never had a late payment. However, the point of this article is to show you that I got a significant bump in my credit score, and it had absolutely nothing to do with paying my bills on time. Shocker!
I just kept on asking myself what I did I do differently over the three-month period of January, February, and March that gave me such a big bump. And most importantly, how to use that information to do it again and again. After doing some more investigation, it hit me that I went on a new credit card sign-up bonus spree and opened a bunch of new credit cards during that time. But how could this be? How could I do the unthinkable and irresponsibly open 3 to 4 new credit cards in only a few months timeframe and see my credit score go up?
Factors that influence raising your credit score fast
If I were to ask you to choose one of the three choices below that made the most significant positive impact on my overall credit score when I ran a simulation, which one would you choose?
- Paying off my entire $1,500 worth of credit card debt.
- Using $10,000 of my available credit to make a big purchase.
- Doubling my overall available credit from $77,000 to $154,000 by applying for new credit cards.
Now, of course, if you read the paragraphs above, you probably already have a pretty good guess on which one had the biggest impact on my credit score during a simulation. However, if you hadn’t read the paragraphs above, would you still be as confident in the answer? The answer to the question was an astounding number 3. Doubling my overall available credit had the biggest impact on my credit score. But, let’s look at how they all stacked up when I ran my credit score through a simulation that allowed me to influence real-life factors that can dramatically impact my credit score.
As you can see above, in this credit simulation, I tried to understand the impact on my credit score if I were to pay off my credit card debt of $1,508. Not to my surprise, this did increase my credit score 2 points. However, I would have anticipated a more substantial increase. Next, let’s take a look at the effects of making a big purchase and using my available credit.
As you can see in the screenshot above, spending $10,000 of my available credit had a substantial adverse impact on my score. It dropped by 15 points! But how can this be? Why am I being penalized for actually using the credit that has been given to me? The answer to this question is coming later in the article. However, let’s check out one more scenario in the credit simulation. For the next simulation, I wanted to see what would happen if I dramatically increased my credit limit on one card.
The result of doubling my available credit actually raised my credit score by 10 points! This revelation was an absolute shocker to me and helped open my mind to how credit scores work, and how to use this information to work for me instead of against me. After reviewing the results of these simulations, I began to reflect on the 16 point increase to my credit score over that three month period at the beginning of the year. And it finally all started to make sense. When I applied for multiple new credit cards, I increased the total of available credit that was given to me by credit lenders, and somehow this was a good thing. I was about to find out soon that this wasn’t just a good thing, but a great thing!
The credit score factors I didn’t know that were costing me big
At this point, I was beyond intrigued and decided to dig a little deeper to understand the most critical factors that influenced my credit score. What I found out shocked me and confirmed my worst credit fears, which was utterly misunderstanding how credit works. The three most significant factors that I found were most relevant to my case and impacted my credit score were the following:
- Total available credit
- Payments made on-time
- Percentage of credit used
Total available credit
Total available credit is basically the total amount of credit you personally have been given by credit lenders such as credit card companies. I would assume this can also be from other forms of credit as well such as certain types of loans, although you may want to check to see precisely which kinds of loans factor into this calculation.
Now, this absolutely rocked me to the core because I had always been taught that having too much credit was a bad thing. Do you know anyone who has heard something similar? Well, the reality is that my credit score benefits from having $50,000 or more in available credit. This means that all my available credit sources that total over $50,000 is actually providing a positive influence on my score! The reason is that lenders may think that if you don’t have enough credit, then it may be a sign that you may run into financial issues. My whole life I felt that lenders would think I would be irresponsible for having too many credit cards or lines of credit. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
Obviously, it is no secret that creditors want their money on time each month. If you only make the minimum payment, then you will most likely be charged interest. However, what I did find stunning is that making on-time payments is only part of my story. Paying my bills on time was not the cause of my 16 point credit score increase over those three months at the beginning of the year.
As you can see, I have made 100% of my payments on time. This takes into account multiple years worth of on-time payments. That’s why I can reasonably assume that merely continuing to make on-time payments would not by itself caused my credit score to jump up 16 points in a short time span. However, if I were to miss a payment, I can safely assume my credit score would drop.
Percentage of credit used
This is the one factor that I paid the closest attention to. It has truly changed my thinking on credit. And it is the one factor that I believe is frequently overlooked by millions of Americans when they think about their credit situation. Essentially, credit lenders look at the percentage of the credit you are using that is available to you. This is one of those concepts where I had to break out a calculator to do the math to truly grasp.
So let’s break out some simple math to get an idea of how this works and see how the percentage of credit used could affect my credit situation. I have provided two example scenarios below to highlight why the percentage of credit used factor is such a big deal.
Credit Use Scenario #1
- I have only 1 credit card with a maximum credit limit of $10,000.
- I decided to put my next vacation booking on my credit card totaling $3,000.
- My percentage of credit used would be represented by the following formula:
- 3,000/10,000 = .3 or 30%
My percentage of credit used in this scenario would be 30%
Credit Use Scenario #2
- I have 10 credit cards with a maximum credit limit of $100,000.
- I decided to charge a new car on my credit card totaling $30,000.
- My percentage of credit used would be represented by the following formula:
- 30,000/100,000 = .3 or 30%
My percentage of credit used in this scenario would also be 30%
Simple math unlocked for me an entirely new way to view my personal credit situation! Basically, I would have the same percentage of credit utilization regardless if I had made a $3,000 purchase or $30,000 purchase, but the real difference came in how much total credit I had available to me. It is essential always to keep this in mind when you make purchases using your credit cards and always stay cognizant of how much credit you have and how much credit you are using. You should always try to make sure to keep your utilization low.
Raising your credit score fast can also come with other benefits
To put even more icing on the cake, all of those new credit cards I opened also gave me a tremendous amount of rewards points. These rewards points can be redeemed for things such as free flights, hotels, car rentals, merchandise, gift cards, credit card statement credits, and more! I won’t go into to much detail on credit card rewards in this article, however, if you are interested in learning how to make credit cards work for you check out our popular article.
Credit cards rewards points are points you receive primarily from making purchases on a credit card. These points always have a cash value. It is essential to understand the type of rewards you are receiving for a specific credit card. You also should make sure that you are redeeming points in a way that gives you the most cash equivalent value. Whenever you sign up for a new credit card, you need to be very strategic in the cards you apply for. Make sure any new card is giving you significantly more in value than just a credit limit.
When I went on my new credit card sign-up spree at the beginning of the year I was very strategic and purposefully looked for credit cards had the following characteristics:
- Offered a big sign-up reward points bonus after hitting a minimum spend threshold.
- Credit cards that aligned my lifestyle and rewarded me for my current spending behaviors.
Finding these cards definitely took some research into analyzing my own spending habits. But ultimately this wasn’t rocket science. I just simply pulled up my bank statement from the previous two months and really took a look at where I was spending my money. The results of my spending weren’t surprising. However, what was surprising was how little I was being rewarded with points for my spending. This was something that I vowed to change.
When I finally found the right credit cards, I was rewarded big time with sign up bonuses and was able to maximize my everyday spending on cards that gave me the most points on every purchase. Trust me that these sign-up bonus offers can add up fast and literally are paying for dream vacations. I still get excited every time I come across a big sign-up offer from a credit card company!
It is essential to keep in mind, that opening many new credit cards, also known as having multiple credit inquiries, in a short period of time oddly enough can potentially have a negative impact on your credit score in the short-term. I know this seems to be counter-intuitive because we just witnessed how I opened many new cards and it had a 16 point impact on my credit score. Just keep in mind that over the long-term, those inquiries should begin to fall off of your credit report. And the factors that were mentioned earlier in the article should have a significant positive impact. Always remember to conduct research on your specific credit situation or contact a credit repair company to receive expert advice before making any decisions regarding your credit.
How understanding credit scores changed my life
It’s no secret that credit scores have a tremendous impact over virtually every facet of our lives. Whether we want to get approved for a mortgage, purchase a car, apply for a credit card, or get a job offer, our credit scores are often the primary way we are judged on our level of trustworthiness for lenders. Regardless if this is an accurate reflection of one’s creditworthiness or not, the fact is that there are rules to the game. And even though they may not make sense or be counter-intuitive, those who are winning know how to play the game the best.
Although raising my credit score 16 points may not seem like a lot to some people, any of us who have really struggled to maintain and raise a credit score over the years know that those kinds of score increases can often be hard to achieve. This is particularly true if you don’t really understand how credit scores work, as was my case for most of my entire adult life. The truth is that for years I walked around with good intentions and being financially responsible. However, because I lacked a strategy for my credit use, ultimately I was losing faster than I was gaining. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand life is about discovering new ways to do things and ultimately the goal for me is always to work smarter and not harder.