How to Raise Your Credit Score Fast | 2024 Guide

April 11, 2024 - 12 min read

Higher FICO scores equal lower interest rates

It’s no secret that a good credit score is crucial for both your personal finances and your ability to become a homeowner.

Yet many aspiring home buyers begin their journey without fully understanding their credit score and how it impacts their mortgage eligibility.

Raising your credit score fast can be done, and these tips may help you afford your dream home sooner than you thought possible.

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10 tips to increase your credit score

It’s true that having a higher credit score will lead to better loan offers and lower interest rates on your mortgage loan.

While it can take months to overcome some derogatory credit events like missed payments, and years to build excellent credit, you can raise your score quickly with these 10 credit insights.

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  1. Get your free credit score
  2. Dispute any errors
  3. Make on-time payments
  4. Pay down debt
  5. Become an authorized user
  6. Consider a rapid rescore
  7. Never carry a credit card balance
  8. Improve your debt-to-income ratio
  9. Avoid closing open bank and credit accounts
  10. Don’t open new credit cards or loans

Being proactive early on in your home buying process may result in getting both the mortgage loan and home you want at a price you can afford.

1. Pull your free credit reports

Every credit repair plan should begin with reviewing your credit files from each of the three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you can obtain a free copy of your credit reports each year from

When reviewing your credit files, look for:

  • Negative information that could be lowering your credit score: Too many hard inquiries, low available credit, late payments, collection accounts, and high credit utilization ratio are examples we’ll describe below
  • Credit reporting errors: Unexplained or unauthorized credit card debt, lines of credit, or new accounts — such as new credit cards, auto loans, or bank accounts — could be instances of fraud or mistaken attribution by credit bureaus or credit card issuers

2. Dispute negative information

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), credit errors are alarmingly common.

Under the FCRA, you have the right to challenge any errors with the relevant credit agencies, and they must investigate your dispute within 30 days.

Correcting and reporting errors that are lowering your score should be at the top of your speedy credit improvement to-do list.

“It’s important to immediately dispute all claims made against you that are false on your credit report,” says Steven Millstein, a certified credit counselor with Credit Zeal.

You could also pay credit repair companies to file disputes for you. However, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) publishes free dispute letter templates to help you manage this process on your own.

3. Make all payments by their due dates

Still wondering how to raise your credit score fast? Making on-time monthly payments for your household utility bills, cell phone services, and installment loans — like personal loans and student loans — is an important component of building excellent credit.

“Try setting up automatic payments through your lender or financial institution,” says Daryn Gardner with Jax Federal Credit Union. “And always pay on time the minimum payment stated on your bill.”

Missed payments and late payments are among the biggest contributors to bad credit scores.

4. Pay down credit card debt

FICO and VantageScore credit scoring models both pay close attention to your credit utilization rate.

Credit utilization is the percentage of credit you’re using compared to your total available credit limits across all of your revolving credit lines.

If you have a $10,000 balance on a credit card with a $20,000 credit limit, then your credit utilization ratio is 50%.

“The most effective way to improve your credit score is to pay down your revolving debt,” suggests Gardner. “Apply your tax refund to pay down your debt.”

You may be able to improve your score simply by replacing credit card balances (revolving credit debt) with a personal loan (installment loan debt).

Additionally, if your credit card company will grant you a credit limit increase, that can also improve your credit utilization rate.

5. Become an authorized user

If your problem is that you have a limited credit history, becoming an authorized user may help you build credit and potentially raise your score fast.

You can get a boost by having family members or friends who have excellent credit, and even good credit scores, add you to their accounts as an authorized user.

You don’t actually use these accounts. But your family’s good payment history will appear on your credit report. On-time payments will help you raise your credit rating.

Be aware that becoming an authorized user can also negatively impact your credit ranking if your family member’s account ever has high balances or late payments.

6. Ask your mortgage lender about a rapid rescore

If you need errors corrected quickly, ask your lender about rapid rescore services. These can be another vehicle to help you raise your credit score fast.

Disputing errors on your credit report can take months. Similarly, it can also take a long time for credit card issuers to report changes once you pay down debt.

Rapid rescoring can issue you a new credit score in a matter of days, instead of months, once you’ve done the hard work of credit repair.

Keep in mind that only your mortgage lender can get this for you because rapid rescore services don’t deal directly with home buyers.

“Rapid rescoring can be ideal because your lender can run a simulation to tell you the best course of action to bump up your credit scores,” says Jon Meyer, The Mortgage Reports loan expert.

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7. Don’t max out your credit cards

Using credit cards responsibly can help build your credit. But spending up to your credit limit will hurt your score.

“Only charge as much as you can reasonably pay off within a given month,” Millstein notes.

To get the best scores, try to keep all your credit cards below 30% of their available limit.

8. Improve your debt-to-income ratio

Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is an important factor in your mortgage qualification. The lower your DTI, the better your chances of getting approved for a home loan — and the lower your interest rate.

Paying down your debt not only improves your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) but also boosts your credit score. Calculate your DTI by adding up your expenses and dividing it by your gross monthly income.

“Say your monthly income is $1,500. Say your total monthly expenses are $800. Divide the former by the latter to get 53%,” Millstein says.

He adds that “lenders prefer your DTI to be 43% or lower.”

9. Avoid closing accounts before applying for a loan

Remember that the average age of your credit is an important factor in your credit score. Credit bureaus like to see a long history of well-managed accounts.

“The longer the info remains on your report, the better it is for your credit score,” says Millstein.

So even if you have a credit card paid down to zero, you don’t want to close that account prior to applying for a mortgage loan.

“With credit you use infrequently, try making a small purchase from time to time. This prevents your account from becoming inactive,” Millstein suggests.

10. Avoid applying for new credit cards and loans

If you’re thinking about buying a home in the foreseeable future, apply for new types of credit carefully.

“Don’t try applying for more than three new credit accounts in a single month,” cautions Millstein. “Your credit score is greatly affected by the number of credit inquiries made to your credit report.”

Furthermore, choose merchants that are more likely to approve you. “Aim for a secured credit card at your local bank, department store, or fuel merchant,” adds Millstein.

In the months leading up to your mortgage application, avoid opening any new accounts at all. This can increase your DTI and lower your score in one fell swoop.

“Also, avoid making any large purchases [prior to getting a mortgage],” says Meyer. Wait to finance furniture or buy a new car until after closing day.

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How quickly can you improve your FICO credit score?

If all you need is error correction, you may see your FICO increase in a matter of days. However, there is no guarantee that correcting errors will make your score go up.

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Paying down significant amounts of debt — say, dropping your credit utilization rate from 80% to 20% — can also bump your score up rapidly.

But if your credit report is littered with late payments collections or other serious problems, Gardner says it can take “up to 12 months to raise your score.” You must first demonstrate a consistent payment history.

Understanding credit scores

Your credit score, also called a FICO score, is a three-digit value ranging from 300 to 850. This number indicates how likely you are to repay your debt. This score is based on info in your credit report that comes from the three major credit bureaus: Transunion, Equifax, and Experian.

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“Any score above 670 is considered very good. Anything below 600 is considered weak,” says Lou Haverty, a chartered financial analyst (CFA).

A higher score gets you access to better home loans. That’s very important when buying a home, says Gardner.

“For example, a high credit score borrower may be offered a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 4%” he says. “An average credit score borrower may be offered the same loan at 5%. On a $200,000 loan, the average-score borrower would pay $40,000 more in interest over the life of the loan.”

Credit score distribution in the U.S.

The chart below shows a typical distribution of FICO scores among individuals, showcasing a gradual increase in the percentage of individuals as the score range rises, with a peak around the 750-799 range. Additionally, it highlights a smaller proportion of individuals with scores below 600 and above 800, reflecting relatively fewer individuals with poor or excellent credit scores.

FICO® Score rangePercent within range
Data source: FICO (2022)

What determines your credit score?

Understanding the components that make up your credit score is crucial for managing your financial health effectively. Here are the key factors that play a significant role in determining your credit score:

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  • Payment history: 35% of your score
  • Credit utilization ratio: 30% of your score
  • Average age of credit: 15% (a longer credit history will raise your score)
  • Credit mix: 10% (a mix of installment accounts like car loans are better than revolving credit accounts like credit cards)
  • New credit: 10% (opening too many new accounts and having too many credit inquiries over a short period can lower your score)

An improvement in any of these categories can help raise your credit score. But to see the biggest impact, make sure you pay all your credit accounts on time and keep your credit balances below 30% of their total limit.

Check your home buying eligibility

If you’re still wondering how to raise your credit score fast, rest assured that achieving a notable improvement within a brief timeframe is entirely feasible.

However, the amount of work you’ll need to do and the speed at which your credit rating will rise both depend on your current personal finances.

Connect with multiple mortgage lenders to discuss your financial situation and whether or not a rapid rescore will work for you.

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What is a credit score and why is it important?

A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness. It is important because lenders and creditors use it to assess your ability to repay debt and determine your eligibility for loans or credit cards.

How long does it take to improve a credit score?

The timeline to improve a credit score varies for each individual and depends on various factors such as the current credit history and the actions taken to improve it. Generally, it can take several months or even years of responsible credit management to see significant improvements.

What are the key factors that affect a credit score?

The key factors that affect a credit score include payment history, credit utilization ratio, length of credit history, types of credit used, and recent credit inquiries.

Can paying bills on time really help improve a credit score?

Yes, consistently paying bills on time is one of the most effective ways to improve a credit score. Payment history accounts for a significant portion of the credit score calculation.

Does closing unused credit accounts improve credit score?

Closing unused credit accounts may have varied effects on your credit score. While it may lower your overall available credit and potentially increase your credit utilization ratio, it could also impact the length of your credit history. It is generally advisable to keep old, positive accounts open.

How does reducing credit card balances impact credit scores?

Reducing credit card balances can have a positive impact on credit scores, particularly by decreasing your credit utilization ratio. Lower credit card balances show responsible credit management, which can lead to an improved credit score.

Will checking my credit report frequently affect my credit score?

No, checking your credit report does not have a negative impact on your credit score. In fact, regularly monitoring your credit report for errors and discrepancies is encouraged as it helps you identify and address any issues that may be affecting your creditworthiness.

Can taking out new credit cards improve credit scores?

Taking out new credit cards has the potential to improve credit scores, but it ultimately depends on how these cards are managed. Responsible use, timely payments, and keeping balances low can positively impact credit scores over time.

How do collections and late payments affect credit scores?

Collections and late payments can have a significant negative impact on credit scores. It is crucial to address and resolve any past due debts promptly, as they can remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

Is it possible to remove negative items from a credit report?

Yes, it is possible to remove negative items from a credit report if they are incorrect or if they can be proven to be in violation of consumer protection laws. However, legitimate negative information that is accurate cannot be removed. It is advisable to work with a reputable credit repair agency or directly with credit bureaus to address any disputes or inaccuracies.

Erik J. Martin
Authored By: Erik J. Martin
The Mortgage Reports contributor
Erik J. Martin has written on real estate, business, tech and other topics for Reader's Digest, AARP The Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.
Aleksandra Kadzielawski
Updated By: Aleksandra Kadzielawski
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Aleksandra is the Senior Editor at The Mortgage Reports, where she brings 10 years of experience in mortgage and real estate to help consumers discover the right path to homeownership. Aleksandra received a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. She is also a licensed real estate agent and a member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR).