|Tips for boosting your credit score
"Try to get the usage on all of them at 20 to
30 percent instead of a bunch at zero and one at 80 percent,"
Chung says. "You're not spending less, you're just shifting
it around to different cards."
It could work, Watts from FICO says. "Transferring
the balance to a card with a lower utilization could help,"
he says, "but it's much better to actually pay down the debt
if you have the cash kicking around."
If you're really into finessing the system, check
your credit report to see what day of the month your creditors send
updates on payments to the credit bureaus, Chung says. They're rarely
on the same cycle as your payment due date. That's why you can pay
off your card every month and your credit report will show you carrying
a balance. Then, make your payments several days before the reporting
All of these strategies generally take at least 30
days because lenders don't report payments more than once a month.
If you're in the throes of qualifying for a mortgage and need a
score boost in a hurry, you can speed the process along with rapid
rescoring. If you've got legitimate negative information on your
credit report, such as late payments or accounts in collections,
you're out of luck. But the process of rapid rescoring can help
increase your score within a few days by correcting errors or paying
off account balances.
You can't do this one yourself; you'll need a lender
who is a customer of a rapid rescoring service. Generally, the service
will run roughly $50 for every account on your credit report that
needs to be addressed, but it could save you thousands on your loan.
If a consumer can find a lender who is a customer
of a rapid rescoring service, new information can be posted within
72 hours, Watts says.
Some nifty online tools are available
to find out which strategies could have the most
impact on your score. Fair Isaac's www.myfico.com
site offers a credit score simulator when you purchase
a credit score. It offers seven simulated scenarios,
such as how paying down your account balances --
or not paying any of your bills on time this month
-- would affect your score.
CreditXpert's "What-If" simulator lets you
play with several variables, such as buying a car, paying off a
student loan and opening a department store account, all at the
same time. They don't sell the simulator directly to consumers,
though. You can get a list of places that do sell it on the consumer
page of its Web
The bottom line, the experts say, is that you're not
powerless when it comes to your credit score.
"There are a lot of things you can do to improve
your score," Chung says. "You need to understand what
your credit is like now and what's influencing your score today.
Then you can take an objective look at the different options available."