The average American has over $6,000 in credit card debt. And, if you're average, this could be keeping your credit score down.
If you're looking for the fastest way to build credit, you have to look at your credit card debt.
Read on for the top ways to improve your credit score.
1. The Fastest Way to Build Credit is to Reduce Credit Card Usage
One of the most important factors that contribute to your credit score is the percentage of the credit limit you are using on your credit cards. You can calculate your usage by dividing your total credit limit by the current balance on all your credit cards. It might be smart to consider a credit card consolidation loan if you have balances on multiple cards.
Using 30% of your credit limit is considered good, but keeping your balance below 10% of your overall limit can boost your score quickly.
If you're currently using over 30% of your credit limit, then keep reading for a few tips to minimize the impact of your total balance.
2. Ask for Higher Credit Limits
Some credit card companies will allow you to increase your credit limit. For example, if you have a $3,000 limit and your balance is $1,000 then your current usage is about 33%. Because your usage is greater than 30% it can bring your credit score down.
If you can negotiate with your credit card company to increase your credit limit, then your usage would go down as long as you maintain or decrease your balance.
Say your credit card company allowed you to increase your limit by just $1,000. Your credit limit would be $4,000 and your balance would still be $1,000. But now your credit usage is only 25%, which falls under the 30% threshold.
3. Consolidate Your Debt
One of the ways you can reduce your credit usage is to consolidate your debt into a personal loan. This is where you open a personal loan for the total balance of your credit cards and use the loan to pay them off in full right away. That essentially transfers the balance of your credit cards to a personal loan, which doesn't factor into your credit card usage percentage.
Once your credit cards are paid off, your credit usage goes down to 0%. This can significantly boost your score.
Do consolidation loans hurt your credit score? While you will experience a small hit for doing a hard inquiry and opening a new account, the hard inquiry will go away after a few months. The benefit gleaned from reducing your credit usage will usually balance that out if not completely outweigh it.
4. Become an Authorized User
Another way to reduce your credit usage and therefore raise your credit score is to become an authorized user on someone else's credit card. Spouses and parents are the most common.
The primary holder of the card simply calls their credit card company and asks for an authorized user to be added to their account. And as long as their account is in good standing, that shouldn't be an issue.
The card company will then issue a credit card with your name on it that has access to their credit card balance. This instantly raises your credit limit.
This can only be successful, however, if you don't use this card to make purchases. You simply have it, but don't use it. This will lower your credit card usage percentage and lift your score.
The fastest way to build credit is by reducing your credit card usage ratio. And while all these techniques help, the common principle is that you reduce spending and pay off the debt in a consistent way over time.
None of these techniques can be beneficial unless you are disciplined in reducing debt. So which of these methods will you start with?
Remember that this is just one step in your financial journey! Check out our blog for additional tips and tricks today.