November 16, 2020
By Rahul Iyer
If you have a low credit score and need to improve it fast, there is one key area you should focus – your payment history.
It makes up the largest percentage of your credit score – 35 percent and can make even the best credit score fall dramatically overnight. Follow these steps to fix your credit score fast.
To fix your credit score, you need to know what’s on your credit report. Everyone gets free access to their credit reports. Typically, you get one free report per year from each credit bureau (so three total). Until April 2021, though, everyone gets free weekly access from all three bureaus.
Pull your report and look at the tradelines carefully, paying close attention to the payment history.
Credit bureaus don’t hit you for a late payment until it’s more than 30 days past due. Your credit report will clearly show the 30-day late payments. From there, they go in 30-day increments. If you miss one payment for 30 days, but pay it on the 40th day, for example, it becomes current. But, if you let it go past the 60th day, the credit report shows a 60-day late. This is even worse for your credit score.
Go through each tradeline and see which accounts must be brought current.
Once you know the accounts that need your attention, bring them current as quickly as possible. If you can’t pay the full amount, contact your lender right away. Many offer programs to help you get caught up.
A few options may include:
Breaking up the past due amount over a few months to make it more affordable.
Deferring the past due amount and tacking it onto the end of your loan.
Lowering your interest rate to make it more affordable.
Any agreement you get from the lender, get in writing. They don’t have to follow through if it’s a verbal agreement and you have no recourse without written proof.
If you’ve gone through your credit report and saw late payments but know you made the payments on time, dispute it.
Credit bureaus make mistakes (it’s humans behind the computers). Write a dispute letter stating the issue and provide proof of the timely payment. The credit bureau has 30 days to respond to your dispute. If they find in your favor, they’ll reverse the late payment for you.
Staying on top of your debts is the #1 way to keep your credit score up. One late payment can have devastating effects. If you slip up and pay something late, don’t worry. Just bring it current and keep up with your payments. In a few months, your credit score will rebound. But remember, that 30-day late mark remains on your credit report so lenders will always see your payment patterns. Keep it as timely as possible for the best results.