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How To Quickly Fix A Bad Credit Score (Mine Was 520)

Updated on September 5, 2012

The first time I checked my credit score, I had a 520. In case you're not familiar with how credit scores work, 520 is pretty bad. With a 520 credit score you can't get a cell phone, let alone a car or home loan. That score haunted my life for a while, until I decided to get it taken care of.

I had to make some changes to improve my credit but it actually didn't take that long. Within about 18 months I had credit that was pretty solid. This article will teach you to do what I did - it will teach you how to quickly fix your bad credit.

Before you can fix your bad credit, you need to see what you're up against. That means that the first thing you need to do is pull a credit report. This will help you to see if there are any mistakes and will also show you the negative things that are bringing your score down.

Update: I have added a more thorough explanation of my credit situation and what I did to fix it here: How Bad Is A 520 Credit Score.

Pay Off Credit Card Debt

In my case, I was using an extremely high percentage of my available credit card debt. The limits on my cards were low - only $750 and $500. However, out of the $1250 that I had available, I was using about $1200. This is a huge no-no if you want to have solid credit. Using a lot of your available credit kills your score and I was using over 95% of it.

I was also way behind on my payments for both of my cards and that was absolutely ruining my score. Making late payments on credit cards is BAD and I was doing that - I had to change that before my score started to rise.

I saved up some money and paid those suckers off. Once I had done that, I got a boost of almost 100 points in my score. Yes, it can affect your credit that much to get rid of your debt. Your use of your available debt is one of the larger factors.

If you can increase the limits of your cards, it will really help your score, as long as you're using more debt. For example, over the last few years I have worked the limits of my cards up to over $20,000. If I run a balance of $1200 now, it barely does anything to my credit. That's because that's only 6% of my available credit - not 95% like it used to be.

In other words, you can change your credit score very quickly by raising your limits and paying down your debt.

If You Don't Have Credit Cards, Get Some ASAP

To boost your credit score, you really need to have revolving credit, and you need to use it. People often think that since they have a car loan or a home loan, they are building credit. This won't do nearly as much good as it would to get some credit cards and use them.

Back in the day before I had credit, it was really difficult to get credit cards. I couldn't get approved for any. I had to take out two secured credit cards to get things going. I basically had to put down $200 into a mini savings account and then I paid those cards off. Pretty soon I was able to get real cards. Once a credit card sees that someone else took a risk on you, they are more likely to. The on-time payments also boost your credit score.

If you want this to work, you absolutely have to pay your bills on time. Skipping payments will hurt you and paying on time will help you. Commit to yourself to never miss another payment. If you need to learn more, read credit cards for people with no credit and bad credit credit cards.

Stay On Top Of High Interest

In order to stay ahead of your debt, I have prepared some simply advice. Here it is: Commercial mortgage loans are WAY better than no credit check personal loans. Why? Because the interest rates are way lower. Home loans are WAY better than auto loans. Why? The interest rates are way lower.

I want you to do simply comparisons so that you get rid yourself of the highest interest debt you have now, and then you'll have more power to get rid of the rest later. As a general rule, bank loans for people with bad credit are much better than private ones.

To Learn More

I've read quite a few solid resources on this topic. Recently I read a post where the author talked about how he raised his credit score by 300 points. Take a look at the article. I think that you'll find that his thought process and methodology for improving credit is very similar to mine.

One point that he made that's really important is that he says to stay absolutely committed to having zero debt and paying off your cards in full every month. So true!


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    • profile image

      Nathan 2 months ago

      I lost my house about 5 years ago, my credit was so poor that, i had a tone of medical bills in collection, I can't afford to rent a comfortable home to live, because even land lords run credit checks it was the most horrible and screwed moment of my life . i knew i had to do something to get back on track and I read about this credit coach on google captain spy (captainspyhacker2 AT gmail DOT com) who had helped so many people, I finally give him a try. I wrote a letter for each thing on my credit report basically, and he gave me the assurance that he will fix these It looked weird to me at first but a month later my credit which was low increase which I also confirm it on credit reporting agency file. This is totally incredible i can now buy a home. Signing the papers in a week. Thanks Captain I really appreciate man!

    • profile image

      Larry S. Miller 4 months ago

      After 3 serious back surgeries, hiring someone to operate my funeral homes for 6 months after each surgery and a battle fought divorce, my credit went from good to very bad.

    • profile image

      lfnwe 22 months ago

      Pay off your debt? This girl needs to learn more about credit.

      There are many ways to boost, read read read. Pay off your debt, this is nice but if you pay it off your score may not move, you need a bit of debt to have a good score.

    • profile image

      bob 2 years ago

      My credit score is terrible due to mefical bills that I have received even with insurance. Its a nightmare totaling ip into 40,000 bucks. What do I do now

    • jbennett3112 profile image

      Josh Bennett 3 years ago from Illinois

      A rule of thumb with credit cards is never use more than 1/3 (33%) of your total revolving (credit card) balance. If you are using over 1/3, it will hurt your credit score. Also, inquiries are only 10% of your credit score. 0 in the last two years is perfect, but it really doesn't start hurting you too bad until you are at 5 or more. Another thing to remember, if you have a credit card that you just don't use any more, DO NOT CLOSE IT. That will lower the average age of your accounts and, in turn, hurt your credit score.

    • Honest-Writer profile image

      Honest-Writer 3 years ago

      Thank you for your advice. I will especially take into account the credit cards full usage, as I tend to do that as well and then just pay the high interest.

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Do what you can to get them paid off siller. It's going to be really hard to buy a home at some point if they ruin your credit

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      The inquiries won't hurt you hardly at all. An inquiry or two each year is expected. If the other accounts are closed they probably won't hurt you unless they were closed for default. You should probably look into what they are.

    • monicamelendez profile image

      monicamelendez 5 years ago from Salt Lake City

      Yeah Jarrod it's possible in some situations. It isn't exactly the score that they look at. Most people with a score in that range won't be able to qualify.

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      James S. 5 years ago

      I have 9 items posted on my credit. 3-4 are inquiries on my credit to get a car and the last one was done back in 2009. One is a loan that I took out by I'm paying that off soon do that leaves atleast 3 other things that I don't know what they are but they DON'T have a balance and they are CLOSED....what does this mean??

    • profile image

      siller thermoise 5 years ago

      i'am working on fixing my credit score because its so low too many student loans on default.What is the sense on earning a degree if you getting harassed to pay back the loan

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      jarrod 6 years ago

      520 credit score is bad but not horrible. I got a cell phone for me and my wife nothing down verizon. Also i got approved therw my bank for a home loan. a lot dpends on what your credit score is down for. late payments and repos then yes your not going to get anything. but if its because of other things then it wont.