How to improve your credit score
It's virtually impossible to change your score in the time between when most people decide to buy a home or refinance their mortgage and when they apply. So the short answer is, you really can't "on the spot." But there are strategies you can live with to make sure when you apply for a loan your score is as high as possible.
Make sure that the information each of the three credit reporting bureaus has on you is consistent and up to date. Order a copy of your credit report about once a year, and dispute any inaccuracies.
Note: Theoretically, if a series of credit reports is requested on your behalf during a limited amount of time, your score goes down until time passes without any inquiries. Changes in the law though have made "consumer-originating" credit report requests not count so much. Also, a series of requests in relation to getting a mortgage or car loan is not treated the same as a number of credit card requests in a limited time. This is because the credit bureaus, and lenders, realize that people request their own credit reports to keep up with what's on them, and smart consumers shop around for the best mortgage and car loans.
Unsolicited credit card solicitations in the mail don't count against your credit report, so don't worry.
The two main components of your credit score are your payment history and the amounts you owe. Bankruptcy filings and foreclosures, which can stay on your credit report for as long as 10 years, can significantly lower your score. It's never a good idea to take on more credit than you can handle.
Late payments work against you. It's extremely important to pay bills on time, even if it's only the monthly payment.
Don't "max out" your credit lines. Since the size of the balance on your open accounts is a factor, lower balances are better.
It's said that by carefully managing your credit, it's possible to add as much as 50 points per year to your score.
The easiest way to see what’s in your credit report is to contact the three national credit reporting agencies – Equifax www.equifax.com, Experian www.experian.com and TransUnion www.transunion.com - and request a copy from each. That’s because the three agencies are independent of each other and the information may differ on all three reports.
In addition, you may not know which agency your lender will use to check your credit, so it’s best to verify that all three have correct information about your credit history.
If you've been denied credit, insurance, or employment because of information in your credit report from any of the three agencies, you can obtain a free credit report by contacting the agency within 60 days of receiving a denial notice.
In addition, you're entitled to a free copy of your report each year when you certify in writing that (1) you're unemployed and looking for a job within 60 days, (2) you're currently on welfare, or (3) your report contains errors due to fraud. Otherwise, the agencies charge a fee for a copy of your report.
Each agency may offer you different report variations, such as:
A credit report with or without your credit score.
A three-in-one credit report that lets you see a side-by-side comparison of records, from all three agencies, with or without scores.
Notification services when your credit history is requested.
Routine notification changes to your file.
Subscriptions that allow you to access your report on a regular basis.
New law promotes free access to credit reports A recent amendment to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates that each agency provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every year, from www.annualcreditreport.com.