Can I raise my credit score fast?

Young multiracial gay couple smiling while going over their home finances together at a table in their living room at homeImage: Young multiracial gay couple smiling while going over their home finances together at a table in their living room at home

In a Nutshell

If you’re trying to find a fast way to raise your credit score, you should know that there’s no single tactic that will magically improve your score in a hurry. But there are steps you can take that might help boost your standings in a relatively short amount of time — though it all depends on your specific situation. We’ll show you what works and what doesn’t.
Advertiser Disclosure

The offers that appear on our platform are from third party advertisers from which Credit Karma receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). It is this compensation that enables Credit Karma to provide you with services like free access to your credit score and report. Credit Karma strives to provide a wide array of offers for our members, but our offers do not represent all financial services companies or products.

Are you trying to raise your credit score fast?

Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet that’ll raise your credit score overnight. But there are a few ways you might be able to improve your credit over time if you manage your credit well.

The truth about raising your credit score fast

While a lucky few may be in a situation where they can raise their credit score quickly, the bottom line for most of us is that building credit takes time and discipline, especially if you’re trying to rebuild bad credit. That’s because your credit score is complex and made up of several interconnected factors (more on that below).

So trust us: While some credit repair agencies may promise to raise your credit score fast, there’s no secret that will help boost your credit score quickly. But if you start developing healthy habits now, you can build credit over time all by yourself.

Five factors that affect your credit score

As we mentioned above, there are several factors that go into determining your credit score.

  1. Payment history makes up the biggest chunk of your credit score. That’s why it’s so important to make on-time payments each month if at all possible. Late payments can haunt your credit history for up to seven years.
  2. Credit usage, or credit utilization, is another important factor. This measures how much of your available credit you tap into at any given time. We recommend you keep this to less than 30%.
  3. The length of your credit history has some impact on your credit, though not much. This factors in the ages of your oldest and newest credit card accounts, as well as the average age of all your accounts. The older your credit, the better, because it shows lenders you have more experience managing credit.
  4. Your credit mix has a small impact on your credit. This looks at the types of credit you borrow. Lenders want to see that you can balance revolving accounts like credit cards with instalment accounts like mortgages, student loans, auto loans and personal loans.
  5. Your recent credit also has a small impact on your credit. This tracks the applications you file for things like new credit cards and personal loans with hard inquiries. The fewer, the better.

Tips that can help raise your credit score

Because credit is so complex, building your credit score takes time. Depending on your individual situation, there may be ways to raise your score quickly — like paying down all your debt in a very short span of time. But if you’re starting out with bad credit, even a drastic measure like that may not have the immediate effect you’re looking for. No matter what, the most impactful thing you can do for your credit is to create some consistent habits.

Here are some tips that can help you raise your credit score over time.

1. Check your credit report on a regular basis to track your progress

No matter where you turn for your credit check-in — Credit Karma or one of the major credit bureaus — it’s important to keep an eye on your credit report and score. And if you find any mistakes or inaccuracies, we can help you file a dispute.

2. Opt into free credit monitoring

Credit Karma offers a free credit monitoring service called Credit Protect to help alert you to important changes in your report, so that you can check for suspicious activity. All you need to do is opt into push notifications in your account settings.

Fraudulent activity can weigh down what could be an otherwise good credit score, so it’s important to dispute any details you identify as inaccurate. If the credit bureau rules in your favour, the fraudulent activity will be removed from your credit report, which can help raise your credit score.

3. Figure out how much money you owe

Gather all your bills and come up with a plan to pay them off. The snowball method focuses on paying off the lowest balances first, while the avalanche method focuses on paying off the balances with the highest interest rates first.

If you have too many credit cards to keep track of, you could also consolidate your credit card debt into one balance transfer card to make it easier to manage your monthly payments.

All three strategies could help you pay off your credit card debt more quickly, lower your credit utilization ratio and raise your credit score. So, choose the plan that works best for you, and stick with it.

4. Set up a Direct Debit so you never forget to make a credit card payment

This could help you develop a consistent payment history over time. It might not help you raise your credit score fast, but it could protect your score from declining fast, which will likely happen if you miss a payment.

5. Pay twice as much

Instead of making one big payment at the end of the month, try splitting it up into smaller payments every two weeks. This could help you sneak in a few extra payments each year and save money on interest charges.

And the extra payments can help pay down your principal balance faster, lowering your account balances and credit utilization ratio, which can raise your score.

6. Negotiate a lower interest rate

A lower rate can help you pay off your balance faster, because more of your payment can be applied to your principal balance than interest. Lower balances can mean a lower credit utilization ratio (and a lift in your score).

7. Ask for a credit limit increase

A higher credit limit is another way to help reduce your credit utilization ratio, which can help raise your credit score. Keep in mind though that some credit issuers do a hard credit check when you request a credit limit increase, and that can cause your credit to dip.

8. Mix it up

Your credit mix refers to the various types of accounts included in your credit reports. While it probably won’t make or break your credit score, lenders typically like to see a mix of revolving credit accounts (i.e., credit cards) and instalment loans, like mortgages, auto loans and student loans.

The more you diversify the money you borrow, the better. Of course, it’s not a good idea to take out a loan you don’t need just for the sake of adding some extra colour to your credit mix.

9. Become an authorized user on someone else’s account

If you’re new to credit and can’t qualify for your own credit card, becoming an authorized user on someone else’s account can be a great way to get started.

But it’s a double-edged sword: If the person who owns the account has healthy credit, it can help you establish a positive credit history over the long run.

On the other hand, if they miss payments or carry high credit card balances, that could also reflect poorly on you. That’s why it’s important to pick someone you trust who has a longer credit history and higher credit score than you do, and who overall has a positive credit history.

Pitfalls to avoid when working on your credit score

When it comes to building credit, it’s easy to get overly focused on ways to raise your credit score fast. The truth is that building credit takes time. So take a step back and make sure your strategy doesn’t do more harm than good.

Here are a few “don’ts” to keep in mind.

  • Don’t apply for a bunch of new credit cards just because you want to increase your credit utilization. Even though this might help lower your credit utilization ratio, it could also make you look like a risky borrower thanks to the new hard inquiries on your reports.
  • For the same reason, don’t take out a loan just to improve your credit mix. Only apply for a new loan if you actually need it.
  • Don’t carry a balance on your credit card just so you can build credit. Carrying a balance can lead to unnecessary interest charges, and it might actually hold your score down by increasing your credit utilization ratio.
  • Don’t cancel your credit card after you pay it off — unless you have a good reason to do so. Closing your credit card will hurt your length of credit history, so it’s better to leave it open, even if you’re not using it anymore. Of course, if having a card tempts you to spend more, or it comes with an expensive annual fee, you might want to rethink this conventional wisdom.

What’s next?

There are a lot of credit repair companies out there that promise to raise your credit score fast. Be wary. Rebuilding your credit score takes time, and you can help improve your credit by yourself.

There are a few steps you might be able to take to raise your credit score relatively quickly, like paying off credit cards with high balances and disputing errors.

You might also consider working on building your credit score with Credit Karma. In our app, you can easily track your progress and get clear, personalized insights on how to keep your credit score moving in the right direction.