4 Ways To Improve Your Credit Besides Paying Down Debt

By Housing Nonprofit

It makes sense that paying down your debt could improve your credit, but what if you don’t have tons of cash sitting around to do so? Are there other ways to boost your credit score? You bet, and here they are.

Have you realized that your credit score is blocking you from achieving several goals in life? If your score is low and in severe need of fixing, the answer is probably yes, as a low credit score can prevent you from:

  • Buying a house.
  • Buying a car.
  • Getting personal loans to cover expenses.
  • Getting a job.
  • Renting an apartment.
  • Being approved for credit cards.

In short, good credit makes life easier. And bad credit means you either have to put off purchases or buy everything with cold, hard cash. So, how can you increase your credit score? The most obvious answer is to start tackling your debt and paying it off. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for everyone, especially if you barely have enough cash to pay your monthly bills.

Luckily, there are other ways besides paying down debt to boost your credit. Start doing as many of them as possible, and you should see a higher credit score and more financial opportunities in the future.

1. Work with a credit counselor.

Navigating credit can seem confusing, intimidating, and stressful. And if you already have other issues piled up, you may feel like boosting credit on your own is impossible. If so, see if you can get free or low-cost assistance from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Its certified credit counselors can discuss your options and may be able to eliminate some fees and reduce your debt to make it more manageable.

2. Get a secured credit card.

It can be tough to get a credit card if you have a low credit score, as creditors may feel as if you are too risky as a borrower. Get a secured credit card from a bank or credit union, and you won’t have that issue. Why? Because secured credit cards use your own cash as the line of credit once you make a deposit. Use the secured credit card for smaller purchases, and over time, it can give your score a nice boost so you can apply for “real” credit cards later on.

3. Have someone add you to their card.

This credit-building option may take some convincing, but it works well for boosting credit. If you can get a friend or family member to add you to one of their credit cards as an authorized user, you can get a credit boost on autopilot.

You won’t need the card in your hands for this to work. Just have them add your name to the card, and your score can increase as they use it and make monthly payments. On the flip side, if they make late payments and max out the card, that will lower your score, so be careful who you pick for this tip.

4. Negotiate with lenders, providers, and debt collectors.

While your debt won’t disappear by itself, you can negotiate to make it more manageable. Contact your creditors and debt collectors (if applicable) and ask what payment plans they offer. You’d be surprised at how budget-friendly your payments could become with just a phone call.

Also, to free up cash to pay down debt, try calling your utility company and similar providers to see if they have income-based programs. This could lower your monthly expenses without forcing you to sacrifice necessities and make it easier to deal with your debt.