Use These 7 Hacks to Repair & Raise Your Credit Score

While the average American’s FICO credit score is 700, which is considered fair, there are still many who struggle with their score’s limitations. Maybe you’re one of the 14% of Americans who lack a credit score at all. Or maybe you simply want to get approved for a lower interest rate for a future loan. No matter your reason, there are ways to game the system, clean up bad credit, and raise your score. Discover how to repair a credit score now!

What makes up a credit score?

Your credit score is a number between 300-850 used to determine your creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders. The higher the number the better. It will affect if you are approved for a loan and what interest rates you qualify for. The score is calculated from the information on your credit report.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) defines a credit report as “a statement that has information about your credit activity and current credit situation such as loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts.”

Your credit report is comprised of the financial information reported from lenders, creditors, and businesses to the three major credit bureaus. The three main bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Financial information is reported monthly to each bureau. As a result, your credit report and credit score will change monthly to accommodate the new information.

Here’s what financial information will directly impact your credit score, according to FICO.

Payment History

  • 35% – Payment history
  • 30% – Amounts owed
  • 15% – Length of credit history
  • 10% – Credit mix in use
  • 10% – New credit

This will show your payment record on all reported accounts. If you make a late payment, it will likely show up on your credit report and affect your score.

Amounts Owed

This category looks at your total debt. It calculates how much you owe different lenders currently, whether it’s a balance on a credit card or your remaining student loan amount.

Length of Credit History

This shows how long you’ve been using credit, the average ages of your different accounts, and length of time some accounts have been inactive.

Credit Mix in Use

Lenders look for a variety of credit types for a stronger score. It will calculate your score based on how many types of credit you have open, from revolving debt like credit cards to installment loans like mortgages.

New Credit

The credit companies are also taking note of how many accounts you open in a short period of time. Opening too many accounts too quickly show you are a risky candidate and will lower your score.

Tips to raise your score and improve your credit

Use these hacks to learn how to repair and even raise your credit score! It is important to note that most strategies are long-term and will not magically change your score overnight. It is next to impossible to have immediate impact, so don’t fall prey to common credit repair scams that promise this. Instead, play the long game. These hacks will help to raise your score over time and keep it high once you’ve established healthy financial habits.


To fix your credit, you need to see what the credit bureaus and lenders see. You have the option to view a credit report from each of the three bureaus once a year for free. Yes, for free! This report will include all the information that your credit score is based upon. We recommend using www.annualcreditreport.com to view your reports.

If your credit score is poor, you can view what is causing that score on the report. The report will contain both personal and financial information. To discover more about how to decipher your credit report, read our blog post, “The Guide to Understanding Your Credit Report.”

You may be surprised to find incorrect information on your report, whether it’s an address you’ve never lived at or an entire credit card account you’ve never heard of. This could be an indication of a genuine mistake or evidence of fraudulent activity. Regardless, you should report this to the credit bureaus immediately. By disputing this incorrect information and having it removed from your report, you can increase your credit score if the information was negatively affecting you.


Your payment history makes up the largest percentage of your credit score. If you have a history of late payments or accounts that have been sent to collections, your score will suffer. The easiest way to remedy this is to pay on time and in full every month. If your score has been lowered from past payment issues, you will not see immediate results. In fact, that negative information could stay on your report for up to seven years. Be patient. Paying on time and in full every month will improve your score over time.

If this is a problem you struggle with, here are some simple ideas to make it easier.

  • Set up payment reminders before your bills are due.
  • Consider paying more than once a month to keep the bill amount lower at any given time.
  • If your account is at risk of being sent to collections, reach out the creditor directly to set up a payment plan that you can afford instead.

Not every creditor reports your regular payments to the three major credit bureaus, but if you have a late payment or a bill that goes to collections it could still affect you. For example, normal utility bill payments like water and electricity are not reported. However, if the account goes into default or is sent to a collections agency, it will be reported. This is just another reason making on-time payments for all your bills, not just loans or credit cards, is important.


If you owe a large amount of debt, it could negatively impact your score in the amounts owed category. The only solution to this is to pay down that existing debt to decrease the amount you owe. This requires dedication and a strategy.

If you can only afford the minimum balances on all your accounts, you might try debt consolidation. Consolidating high interest debt from a credit card to a low interest installment loan like a personal loan can make it affordable to make payments again. Plus, less interest means the balance you carry over each month while working to pay it off will grow slower. Read our Beginner’s Guide to Debt Consolidation here.

Another popular strategy is the debt snowball method. This is a debt repayment strategy that utilizes human behavior to reward small successes and build momentum towards paying off your debt. Dave Ramsay made the method popular today. If you want to learn how to use this strategy, you can read our breakdown of the method here <Insert link to new blog post>. We even created a specialized calculator that will help you determine how fast you can pay off your debt and how much money you’ll save with the debt snowball.


Taking advantage of the credit utilization ratio is one the best ways you can hack the system and increase your credit score. What is this ratio? The credit utilization ratio is the percentage of debt you owe against the total amount of credit you have access to. For example, if you have a credit card limit of $1,000 and your current balance is $500, your ratio is 50%.

To get the best credit score possible, always keep your ratio under 30%. This shows the credit bureaus that even though you have access to a certain amount of funds, you are not desperate for money or unable to pay those balances off. 

Here are some quick ways you can get your credit utilization ratio under 30%.

  • Ask your current credit card company for a credit line increase. It’s free and by increasing your credit line, it automatically drops the ratio percentage.
  • Find out when your creditors report your payments to the bureaus. This is often before your actual due date. Make your payments before they report your balances each month. You could even try paying your balances two times a month to ensure the balance that is reported is always low.
  • If it has been a year or two since you opened a credit card, consider opening another. Opening a new credit card automatically increases your credit line and can help lower your ratio as well.

Remember that you don’t need to keep a balance on any of your credit cards to receive a good score. Always pay your balance in full if you’re able!


You may hear advice that says to close credit card accounts so you are not tempted to use them. But if you do this, you lose traction on two of the categories that affect your score. Number one, if you close the account you lose all the valuable history of that account. Number two, it takes away from the variety of credit types you are using at any given time. Both factors make it worthwhile to keep the account open – even if you aren’t using the card or are trying to curb your spending. Instead, simply cut up the physical credit card so you are not able to use it.


Financial information reported to the bureaus contains what type of debt and accounts you currently have in your name. This could include:

  • Auto loans
  • Mortgages
  • Student loans
  • Credit cards
  • Personal loans

Lenders like to see borrowers that have experience will multiple types of credit. Knowing that you have been able to handle different account types can help if there’s not much other information to go on to determine a score. If you have only had credit cards, consider opening a personal loan. If you have never applied for a credit card, consider keeping just one in your wallet – even if you don’t intend to use it. 


If your credit is too poor to take advantage of any of the above tips, then use the many resources available to get you back on the playing board. If you don’t have enough information to fill out a report and get a score, or if you’re coming back after a financial disaster like bankruptcy, these resources could work for you.

Secured credit cards

These credit cards are often given to teenagers with no previous credit history or those who cannot get approved for regular cards. The main difference is that you provide a security deposit to the creditor that becomes your credit line amount. If you provide $500 in cash up front, they will approve you for a card with a $500 credit limit. This gives them insurance that if you default they will not lose the borrowed funds. It also allows you to get your foot in the door of the credit market. Getting this card will allow you to build your credit history and show that you can make payments on time and in full every month.

Special loan programs

If your credit score is poor, you may have trouble applying for a loan when you need one. Luckily, many credit unions are known for offering specialized loan programs for people in this situation. For example, at AmeriChoice we have what’s known as a Credit Boost Auto Loan. This loan can be given to those with little to no credit if they provide proof of income. Then when they make 12 months of on-time payments, their interest rate can even decrease! If you’re in this situation, look for programs like this one to get access to lending solutions.

When will I see results?

The most important fact to remember is that even if you utilize every single one of the above credit score hacks – it will still take time for your score to change. New information is only reported to the bureaus once a month. Plus, it will take multiple months of positive changes before the bureaus respect that your financial habits have changed to fit their guidelines. Don’t be discouraged. Improving your score takes time but is worth the effort. Higher scores mean better access to lending solutions and at lower interest rates. Keep up the good work and let us know of any credit tips we may have missed in the comments below! 

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