By DAVID WEEDMARK
Depending on where you're starting from, making significant improvements to your credit score can take time. But there are some things you can do right now to work on your score. Here are four tips that could help you improve your credit health in the short term.
Review your credit reports
Until you know what your reports say, you won't know what you can fix. It only takes a few minutes to get your free credit reports from Credit Karma. We provide reports from two credit bureaus so you can compare them and spot errors more easily.
The odds of finding an error are surprisingly high - a 2013 study by the Federal Trade Commission revealed that one in four Americans found mistakes on their credit reports that might affect their credit scores. Meanwhile, 10 percent of those surveyed saw an increase in their scores by having the errors corrected. If you find an error, you can file a dispute with each credit bureau or directly with the creditor.
Raise your credit card limit
Lenders like to see that you aren't using too much of your available credit -- if you use too much, it might be hard to pay back. If your credit card company is willing to raise your credit limit, it could help decrease your balance-to-limit ratio, also known as your credit card utilization rate. If, for example, you have a $1,200 balance on a credit card with a $3,000 limit, your utilization rate would be 40 percent. Getting your limit bumped up to $5,000 could drop your utilization rate down to 20 percent, which could help boost your score. Just try not to increase your spending!
Pay down your debt
Paying down a credit card is another way you could lower your credit utilization rate. Even if you aren't able to pay your balance in full each month, it can sometimes help to make smaller payments throughout the month in order to keep your balance from getting too high.
Get a credit card
Though adding a new card may initially cause your score to drop, the potential long-term benefits of increasing your credit utilization rate often end up boosting your score overall.
Adding a new credit card to the mix can help increase your overall credit limit. Plus, if you use it responsibly, it can have a positive impact on your on-time payment history. You can compare credit card reviews on Credit Karma and apply right from their site.
Bonus tip: Canceling a credit card does not typically improve a credit score. In fact, it can hurt your utilization rate since it eliminates available credit. And if it's an older account, it can lower the average age of your credit history - another factor that can impact your score.
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