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7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

Do you want to raise your credit score quickly? If you follow these tips, you'll see improvement in your score in no time.

Do you want to raise your credit score quickly? If you follow these tips, you’ll see improvement in your score in no time.

7 Life-Saving Tips That’ll Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

16% of Americans have a credit score of below 579. This is the lowest level of the FICO score and is categorized as “very poor”.

A poor credit score can have a serious impact on your personal life and can affect your business negatively as well.

While no one can guarantee that you will hit an exceptional score, there are steps you can take to improve your credit score.

Here are seven tips to raise your credit score quickly.

1. Check Your Report for Errors and Omissions

The very first step to take is to get a copy of your credit card report. This is the only way to know where you stand before you figure out the specific actions to take to make things better.

This is, however, not all you will be doing with your report. Go through it carefully, checking for any error and omissions.

Look for things like a repaid debt that’s been listed as a default or a loan you repaid on time that is not listed.

If you identify any of these issues, move to have them corrected. This action in itself can add a few points to your rating.

2. Negotiate on Outstanding Balances

You will be surprised at how helpful your creditors can be. Unfortunately, if you never ask, you will never find out.

If you are having trouble making payments, make contact with your credit card issuer and communicate this with them.

Most providers have temporary hardship programs you can take advantage of. The benefit of this is that you can have your repayment amounts reduced until you get back on your feet.

Smaller, more manageable installments mean you can pay a lot more comfortably. This is better than skipping payments and having a creditor send a negative report that sheds a few points off your score.

3. Get Added as an Authorized User

This is a great way of giving your credit score an immediate boost. This works particularly well if you are just starting out and have little information on your credit rating.

You do this by getting someone with a high credit card limit and an even greater repayment history. Their card issuer sends them a card with your name on it.

Legally, you are not obligated to make payments on any debt accrued on the card. But its usage reflects positively on your credit score.

The key is finding someone with above board transactions. In a sense, you inherit the person’s positive credit history.

However, not all credit card companies report authorized users. Before you get on it, do your research and find out if it will be reported.

4. Ask Creditors to Delete Late Payments

It’s not uncommon to fall behind on payments from time to time. However, these small mistakes lower your credit score.

If you are in good standing with your creditors, it does not hurt to request them to delete some of the reported late payments. Financial institutions regularly communicate with Credit Referencing Bureaus, and all it would take is a quick phone call on your behalf.

If the request goes through, then you will have fewer negative reports, which will add some points to your credit rating. Nevertheless, try and restrict your late payments to 30 days. Creditors will not report late dues failing in this time frame.

If your issue is forgetfulness, rather than availability of funds, you can have your banker or employer make direct payments if this facility is available. If not, there are numerous software tools you can use to remind you when your payments are due.

5. Old Debts Can Raise Your Credit Score Quickly

You might be eager to forget about your car loan or student loan debts once you make the final payment.

However, as long as you completed your payments promptly, those records may help your scoring. The same is true for credit card debt.

All you need to do is keep these debts on your record. If they were entirely left out, then provide all the information to the credit Reference Bureau so they can use it to calculate your credit score.

Bad payment histories are deleted with time. However, bankruptcies stay on your report for 10 years and late payments for seven years. You don’t have much leeway with these.

6. Watch Your Credit Utilization Rate

Credit utilization is the amount of credit card balance you have compared to your credit limit.

This is the second largest factor affecting your credit score. The first is your credit repayment history.

The more credit you use on your credit card, the further down your credit rating drops. This trend indicates you are spending a significant portion of your income to repay debt, which makes you likelier to default on payments.

The best credit utilization is 0, which means your credit card limit is untouched. This defeats the purpose of applying for a credit card in the first place.

As a rule of thumb, keep your credit utilization ratio at 30%. This means using less than 30% of the credit limit availed to you. Anything above this can cause your rating to drop.

Under the FICO system, people with the highest scores have a utilization rate of 7%. The lower your utilization, the better.

7. Jump on Score Boosting programs

The average age and number of accounts you have held are an important consideration in evaluating how you handle debt.

This tends to disadvantage people with a limited credit history.

UltraFico and Experian Boost allow people with limited credit histories to puff it up using other information.

Experian requires access to your online banking data and allows Credit Referencing Bureaus to add utility payments to your history.

In the same way, UltraFico allows you to give permissions for savings and checking accounts to be used alongside your report when calculating your credit score.

Consistency Is Key

All in all, while it is possible to raise your credit score quickly, expect a few bumps along the way and allow yourself some time.

At First Financial, we understand that while you work on your credit rating you might still need help from time to time. No matter your credit score, we have a financing solution for you. Contact us today for more information.

Take the Pain out of Monitoring Your Finance

Go from bad credit to good credit without beating yourself up

Can there be any joy in monitoring your finances? Your bank balance is disappointing more often than not. Trimming expenses doesn’t bring any joy. Reminders of irresponsibility can be a gut punch.

Still, a different mindset can help you make the changes to put you on the path to good credit.   

Begin by forgiving yourself for financial mistakes

The shame and blame we heap upon ourselves for not being where we want to be financially can make our situations worse. It leads us to avoid confronting credit spending, recurring debits from bank accounts, balances on personal loans or car loans, and important conversations with family members.

Shame springs from an idea that the individual has departed from social norms. Start dismissing your shame when you understand that one in three others you’ll meet today also have credit under 601. That’s right—one-third of Americans today have bad credit.

The individual experiencing bad credit has lots of company. And is this all their fault?  With aggressive companies relentlessly bombarding us with messages that we deserve their products and that we must keep up with our peers, it’s no wonder we overextend ourselves.

If you can grab your financial issues “by the horns” so to speak, you have made the first

 step on the path to success. Some psychologists tell us that, “a willingness to endure discomfort and capitalize on challenge is a trademark among successful, fulfilled individuals.” While it will require a little effort, put a budget in place, inform those who may impact it, stick to it. You’ll quickly find positive feelings about yourself and your financial situation multiplying. As Benjamin Franklin told the framers of our constitution, “Once begun, half done.” Those quill pens got to writing, despite their enormous task. 

Gamify Your Savings

Rather than tracking every $3 coffee, focus more on a positive indicator: your savings level. As that rises, set a reward after reaching certain amounts. The reward could be you get to buy a new piece of clothing or 10 shares of SnapChat stock. Set these levels up ahead of time and stick to these commitments. These rewards can offset the sense of loss from avoiding day-to-day overspending.

Take the pressure off when you avoid social media

First and foremost, understand that social media is simply carefully selected snippets of your friends’ and family members lives. What they choose to share is designed to elicit envy. Those of us here at First Financial are constantly surprised at friends’ life-is-so-great posts and how these compare to what we know are their real struggles.

What’s more, when you focus on others, you remove your attention from your own issues. If you have bad credit, all your attention needs paid to your spending and savings plans.

Let the social world turn without you when you use a religious tradition, mindfulness, meditation or good old smart reading to understand how pointless it is to compare yourself to friends, relatives.

Deepen Your Relationships when You Lay It All Out for Loved Ones

Serious conversations with loved ones can be intimidating, particularly when they’re about money. Strategize how to take the sting out of belt-tightening before you tackle it with those you love. In other words, have alternate plans to take the place of lavish habits so that your new financial regimen doesn’t translate as 100 percent loss.  

First, explain how it’s important now to join forces for common goals and how these efforts will unite you. Emphasize that working together for financial fitness by cooking meals together, going to resale and thrift shops and competing for better money saving strategies will get you talking and sharing more. Also, make sure you include your family members’ long- and short-term goals in your planning. Study after study reveals that children and spouses prefer experiences and time spent together over material goods anyway. Shared experiences just connect us better and for longer than shared material consumption. Use that research if you have to!

Your new financial fitness system may benefit from gratitude journals. Everyone should jot down at least one thing they’re grateful for every day. Sharing is optional, but when these grateful moments that include others are shared, it strengthens bonds. These journals, particularly effective when an individual is feeling particularly short-changed, have proven to increase happiness significantly.

How to Manage Employee Expenses with Prepaid Debit Cards

We’ve all seen movies depicting employees whipping out the corporate credit card to pay for extravagant meals and entertainment. Business owners shudder at these scenes, and they should. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners tells us that 15 percent of all employee expenses can be categorized as fraud. In another study, 66 percent of employees admit to abusing the company card with:

  • High-priced dinners
  • Office supplies for home use
  • Mobile phone and app purchases and upgrades
  • Airline upgrades

Another portion admit to inflating transportation expenses, getting a cash refund from an expensed item and even creating a fake expense. These last three are full-on fraud. Still, with every opportunity, some people will take advantage. The credit card with a limit of thousands of dollars just trips some kind of spending wire in some employees. When a card’s limit set at $5,000, a $75 dinner for one seems reasonable.

Business owners can reduce their exposure to “expense padding” and fraud when they give their employees secure prepaid debit cards as opposed to credit cards. Like a teen with a set spending amount, employees must budget within a the debit card’s finite amount.

When presented positively, the prepaid debit card can be just as appreciated by employees as the credit card. Simply explain that the debit card works best for your taxes and/or accounting structure. Make this expense tool a decision based on business goals, not something to keep employee spending in line. Avoid mentioning potential expense abuse or fraud all together.

Other benefits of the prepaid debit card for business includes:

  • Easy availability: get instant approval from the best online sources. With online banking now as secure as traditional, bricks-and-mortar banking, anyone can apply for and receive prepaid debit cards within days of ordering. Pay using your credit card or business bank account.
  • No credit card dings: prepaid debit cards do not intersect with your business’s credit rating in the least. From the moment you buy it until the moment the employee spends the last $5, the debit card involves only up-front cash transactions.
  • Convenience: Prepaid business cards are accepted everywhere the issuers’ cards are accepted. In-store, online and phone purchases all work with a prepaid debit card.
  • Better employee spending controlLoad the card with a set limit of money and task the employee to stay within that amount. As with a credit card, debit cards allow you to track exactly what the employee spends. Some companies even let you monitor business card transactions from your computer or mobile app. Business owners can even freeze and unfreeze the debit card as needed.

Prepaid Debit Cards Control Employee Spending So You Don’t Have to!

Some businesses choose company credit cards rather than debit cards because of the potential for rewards and the lower fees. Debit cards can also come with more fees than credit cards. Still, when compared to the financial losses due to abuse, these fees are negligible.

When a small business becomes a mid-sized business, expenses accounts follow quickly, especially for sales professionals. Then, additional office locations can mean travel expenses. Debit and credit cards empower employees to make their own decisions while keeping spend under control.

7 Ways to get Your Credit Score Over 800

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 Having an excellent credit score opens up so many more possibilities for you. But if you suffer from a low credit score, all hope is not lost. Here are seven ways to be one step closer to getting a credit score over 800…

1. Pay On Time

Think back to when you were in grade school, and your teacher drilled you to always turn in your homework on time, on the date it’s due, no exceptions. Credit card payments are the same. Make sure to turn in payments to your cards on time, without running a balance on them.

2. Consider Using Payment Tools

If remembering payment dates proves too difficult for you, you can always set up an automatic bill pay, or set up payment reminders. There are even some banks out there that will provide complimentary bill pay reminders via texts or emails.

3. Look for Large Limits on Credit Cards:

It is better to have a large credit limit on a card, as it doesn’t affect your rating if you spend more on that card. Conversely, if you have a lower credit limit, then it is easier to hit the limit, and that will negatively affect your credit score. Don’t fall for the temptation of thinking that just because you have a $50,000 credit, you have $50,000 to spend. To maintain a high credit score, you should use very little of that. In fact, you should keep it under 10% of the credit limit.

4. Don’t Over-Apply

Don’t be swayed by every credit card offer that arrives in the mail. Each time you apply for a new credit card, your overall credit score drops. Instead, work on getting higher limits on the cards you have.

5. Variety is the Spice of Life

Having a variety of diverse loans (including credit cards) in your overall credit collection also boosts your credit score. This can include not just credit cards, but also mortgages, automobile loans, et cetera. If you can prove that you can pay on several accounts reliably, your credit score will be higher.

6. Don’t Forget About those Under-Used Cards and Don’t Cancel Them

You need to prove that you can pay your cards on time, including those underused cards. It’s highly recommended that you not cancel those cards you don’t use regularly, because doing so will reduce the total amount of credit you’re approved to borrow. You also want to show that you indeed have a history of paying all of your cards on time, including the lesser used ones.

7. Check for Errors on your Credit Report
Yes, it is a fact that even the credit score agencies are not perfect, and sometimes have errors on their reports. Be sure to locate these mistakes and then call and have them corrected. Your credit score will benefit as a result.

8. Try Asking for a Break
It doesn’t hurt to call and ask to have late payment penalties taken off of your credit history. Sometimes if you’re polite about it, companies will remove the causes of your bad scoring, so you won’t need to wait. You have nothing to lose in asking.

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First Financial Personal Loans Provide the Savings that only Online Functionality Delivers

First Financial’s lending partners can provide low cost personal loans because of their cost-saving, online structure. Apply for an affordable personal loan here, even if your credit rating is “fair,” “poor” or even “bad.” Our comprehensive application was designed by financial professionals who understand that an applicant’s financial history can be complex. Fill out the application in minutes and learn how much you qualify for within 48 hours. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart budgeting and saving tips, too!

The Feasibility of Bad Credit Auto Loans: 5 Facts that Reassure Spouses and Parents

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 If you’ve just heard you can only qualify for a “bad credit” auto loan, know that you are far from alone. More than 50% of Americans today DO NOT fall into the “prime” or “excellent” credit category that wins the best interest rates. Many gasp upon hearing the word “bad” in the description of their only possible auto loan, but rest assured, the bad credit auto loan is simply another category of frequently approved loans.

In fact, in the first quarter of 2014, U.S. banks approved 44% more bad credit auto loans than they did in the same period the previous year. With the economy improving, banks are more willing to take on customers with less cash at hand. (First Financial’s bad credit auto loan has a 93% approval rate.)

With the negative power taken out of the term “bad credit auto loan,” the next step in getting a reliable, attractive car is convincing the spouse or parent who may be co-signing, helping with down payments or monthly payments. We’ve made sure to add all the statistics and links so you can back up your case.

Bad Credit Auto Loan Interest Rates Are Higher But Not Outrageous

. . . and definitely NOT unheard of

Financial talking heads on television or radio can sour your significant other or another important family member on the bad credit auto loans. Sure . . . . those in the prime or “excellent” credit category get the lowest auto loan rates, but paying 7% to 10% or more for an auto loan still keeps reliable, attractive cars affordable.

Further, during some periods of the past 50 years, even those with excellent credit were paying over 10%. Ask a parent or grandparent what they paid for an auto loan at various times. Show them that you have proof that interest rates peaked in 1981 at 16% and only dropped under 10% as recently as 1997.[2]

Getting a Bad Credit Auto Loan Helps You Get to Better Credit

That you make payments on time monthly gets reported to the credit bureau, slowly raising your score over the next months and years. Once your credit inches up into the “fair” category and then even the “good” category, you can consider refinancing at a lower rate.  And all that time you had a reliable car.

More, having reliable transportation to a job is a sure way to get the money needed to be a better bill payer. Many jobs even insist you have your own car. Stress to loved ones that you consider the higher interest bad credit auto loan a temporary fix while you work your way out of a negative credit picture. Maybe landing in the bad credit category taught you some important lessons, mistakes you don’t want to repeat.

Find Out How Much You’re Approved for Fast with First Financial

Banks are now more willing to lend to those whose credit scores dropped below “prime” or excellent . . . 700 or higher at this writing.

Our fast and simple online auto loan application and mobile auto loan application can get you driving within days. Want to get tips on finding the  lowest cost online auto, mortgage, personal loans as well as the loan industry? Please “like” us on Facebook today!


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