7 Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

If you're worried about your credit score, follow these tips to improve your rating.

We'd feel terrific if we managed to have a perfect credit score, but getting a perfect 850 is pretty much unattainable. A score of 760 is the golden standard of "excellent" credit, but sometimes even that seems like just a dream.

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Raising your credit score isn't about waiting around idly for the credit bureaus to think you've got a longer and more impressive credit history. If you want to find out your credit score, you can do it for free at Credit Karma (www.creditkarma.com).

Whether you're trying to raise your score or maintain your top-notch report, here are ways to see an immediate change in that magic number.

1. Bulk Up Your Thin File.

Luckily for consumers with little to no credit history, VantageScore (see Resources, below) has been leading the way by placing the most emphasis on the most recent 24 months of a consumer's credit history. So, even if you haven't been using credit for ages, your credit-building actions will now have a deeper impact on your score. Some other things that will help to bulk up a thin credit history are secured credit cards (see Resources, below), personal loans, auto loans, and a mortgage.

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2. Before You Do Anything Like Adding A New Credit Card, Do This.

This is the ultimate tried-and-true credit score booster. Unloading debt increases your score by reducing your overall debt and lowering your credit utilization rate (for credit cards, at least). Before you add a new credit card, increase your credit limit, or juggle balance transfers (see Resources, below), focus on paying off your debt. Your credit score will thank you immediately.

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3. Find A Diamond in the Rough Credit.

Right now, a lot of credit card issuers are increasing the number of preapproved offers they mail out. One of the ways that your score is calculated is by how much credit you use compared to the total credit line you could use (called "credit utilization rate"). Opening a new card will often have a positive impact on your credit score because it increases your total available credit. Sift through cards to find one with favorable terms, a low interest rate, and no annual fee. Remember that each credit card application results in a hard inquiry that temporarily lowers your credit score for four to eight weeks, so be selective about applying to cards with high approval rates for your credit score range. Check out Credit Karma's recommendations (see Resources, below) based on credit score range and card type.

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