What To Do When Your Credit Score Isn’t Going Up

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There are many reasons you might want a better credit score. Perhaps you want to qualify for a new credit card or loan. Or, maybe you’re looking for better interest rates or lower insurance premiums. You may even be looking to rent an apartment without being assessed a deposit. Regardless of your motivation for earning a better credit score, it can be frustrating when your efforts stall or, as weight watchers call it, you’ve “plateaued.” Here’s what to do when your credit score isn’t going up.

  1. Check your credit reports.

 

This might seem like simplistic advice but if you don’t know what’s on your three credit reports then your score improvement strategies are not much more than sophisticated guesses. It’s essential to monitor your three credit reports when you’re working to improve your credit scores. At AnnualCreditReport.com you can claim a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) lets you claim these free reports once every 12 months, and because of a decision made by the credit bureaus, you can claim them weekly through at least April 2022.

  1. Look for potential problems.

 

Once you have your credit reports, review them for any issues that might be holding your credit score back. Make a list of any potential issues you find, such as:

  • Negative Items: Many negative items (i.e., collection accounts, late payments, bankruptcies) can stay on your credit report for up to seven to ten years. Derogatory items have the potential to hold your credit score back, at least to some degree, as long as they’re on your credit reports.
  • Credit Reporting Errors. Mistakes happen, and credit reports are not exempt. Any negative item on your credit report could potentially hurt your score—even if it shouldn’t be there in the first place. Credit scoring systems don’t know the difference between accurate negative information, and inaccurate negative information.
  • Credit Card Over-Utilization. When your credit card balances grow too high in relation to your credit limits, it causes your credit utilization ratio to increase. A high credit card utilization ratio can damage credit scores, even if you always pay on time. This is a common culprit when your scores have plateaued. This is an important metric and even if you pay your cards on time, the balances could be stalling your credit score improvement journey.
  • Too Many Hard Credit Inquiries. If you fill out too many credit applications in a short period of time, those hard credit inquiries might hurt your credit scores. Also, if you find evidence of credit inquiries you didn’t authorize, it might indicate that you’re a victim of identity theft. Credit inquiries are never the sole reason for a lower score, but they can certainly be a contributing factor.
  1. Focus on the Score Factors.

 

Every single time your credit score is calculated it is delivered along with the top four reasons why that score isn’t higher. Those reasons are commonly referred to as Score Factors, Reason Codes, or Adverse Action Codes (Hint: they’re all the same thing). These codes are delivered in order from the most influential reason your scores aren’t higher to the least influential.

One common Score Factors for people who have excessive credit card debt is “Balances too high on revolving accounts in proportion to credit limits.” If you have this factor then you know your credit card balances are too high relative to your credit limits. You also know that if you can pay down your balances your scores will improve.

These score factors are your blueprint for a higher credit score. They take the guesswork out of the equation. Your strategy has to be built around those factors.

Bottom Line

 

If your credit scores aren’t improving, there are always reasons as to the delay. Checking your reports, inventorying the items that can lead to a lower score, and focusing on your score factors is your customized credit score improvement plan.

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