How To Fix a Broke-Ass Credit Score
Ever wonder why every third commercial is for another goddamn Check Your Credit Score for Free Just Kidding Not Free website? Because we are dumbasses about credit. Here are a few ways to perk up your credit score and avoid being a Credit Dumbass.
LOWER YOUR USAGE
Credit usage is (much like it sounds) how much of your total credit you are currently using. This is a good place to start because, unlike the rest of your report, it gets recalculated each month.
DO keep your total credit usage under 30%. For example, if you only have one card with a limit of $10,000, try to keep that bad boy under $3,000.
DON’T open up a bunch of new cards to finagle your percentage. It may initially lower your total credit usage, but it will also lower your credit’s average age (another part of your score), put inquiries on your report (too many is a red flag to lenders), and, let’s get Oprah-level real, if you’re already having trouble with your credit score, maybe more credit isn’t what you need right now.
Ben Franklin is probably rolling over in his penny-saving, French-prostitute-loving grave, but if you have a large amount of credit card debt, stop saving.
DO put that money towards paying off your debt first. Any interest you earn, especially through a savings account, is likely to be eclipsed by high debt interest rates (especially credit card interest rates).
DON’T drain an emergency fund if you have one. (Yes, you should have one.) Try to keep at least three months’ worth of expenses in an easily accessible account.
Perks to carrying cash, in addition to creating an automatic budget: the Man can’t track your purchases, the ability to make it rain on command, and never running the risk of a bartender at a combination bar/flower shop in Flatbush handing over your fucking credit card to someone else…hypothetically speaking.
DO take out a specific amount of cash before going out drinking, fooding, ironic shuffleboarding, etc. and, wait for it…
…DON’T SPEND MORE THAN THAT. Don’t cut out credit altogether, though, unless you have done some serious research first. Some places won’t lend to you if you have bad credit, but very few places will lend to you if you have no credit. Consider keeping one card and making an occasional small purchase that you can pay off each month to continue maintaining or raising your score.
PAY YOUR BILLS ON TIME
You are a grown-ass adult. If you need assistance being an adult, set reminders in your phone or email calendar or use a spending tracker app like Mint or Mvelopes. You can always have your mom call you from her Zumba class, just do something! You can do it, you grown-up thing, you!
CHECK YOUR SCORE
In addition to all those aforementioned pay websites, here are some for-real FREE ways to check your credit:
Get a credit report once a year from each of the three reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) by going to AnnualCreditReport.com or calling 1-877-322-8228. These are totally FREE credit reports, but the downside is they do not include an actual credit score.
Some credit cards (like Discover and AmEx) now offer a FREE monthly score on your bill, so consider this the next time you’re researching a new card (also consider whether it offers bounce house rewards).
Sign up for a website that offers a FREE quarterly credit score, like Credit Karma or Mint. But keep in mind the reason they’re FREE is that they are ad based, so they might advertise financial services and products that may not be right for you and call them “advice.”
JUST BE A RICH ASSHOLE?
Have your parents pay all your debts and, what the heck, the rent on your sweet East Village apartment, too.