New statistics reveal that 43.4 million people across the country have had their credit score slip below 599. Unfortunately, as financial advice columnist Mary Hunt points out, that doesn’t mean lenders are grading on a curve. In fact, while most credit scores fell, the number of people whose rating was over 800 points actually increased.
So what can you do to make sure you qualify for whatever lines of credit you want to apply for? There are several simple steps that can increase your credit score quickly.
The first step to take if you want your credit score to increase is also the easiest one to keep in mind. Paying your credit card bills on time every month, is a predominant factor in maintaining or improving your rating increases. The longer your payment history remains positive, the better.
But that also works in reverse, and the punishment can be severe. Missing even one bill’s due date can erase months of hard work, and the later a payment is made, the bigger the hit to your credit score. If a bill falls over 90 days behind, the penalty can be over 100 points.
You should also keep an eye on how much you're spending on credit cards. If your balance is near your limit, you should try to pay off as much as you can. A large portion of your credit score is made up of how much you owe to creditors, and you should aim to keep that amount around 30 percent of your limit or less.
In addition, if you're having trouble making payments, obtaining more lines of credit will only damage your score further, because another portion is made up of how much new credit you have.
Most importantly, consciously trying not to spend beyond your means will help you in the long run.