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21 Simple Steps to Fix a Bad Credit Score Fast

It can take years to fix a bad credit score but these steps can help you fix your credit score fast

Miss a payment and now can’t get a loan because of your credit score? Are the only loans you get are on interest rates you can’t afford? Learn how to fix your credit score with these helpful tips you can’t find elsewhere!

I had the same problem five years ago after destroying my credit. My credit score was so bad, I even got turned down for a job I wanted!

But I learned everything I could about how to fix a bad credit score and now I’ve got a score of nearly 800 FICO. I get any loan I want and at the lowest rates.

What does this mean for you?

It can take years to get fix a bad credit score after missing a payment but there are some steps you can take that will fix your credit score fast. Even if you don’t need a loan right now, it’s best to start increasing your credit score for when you do need the money.

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Why Does it Take So Long to Boost Your Credit Score?

Part of the reason it can take longer to fix your score is the fact that some of the biggest steps to fixing a bad credit score take several months to complete. Another factor is that inquiries, when you or a lender accesses information in your report, stay on your credit report for six months.

Too many inquiries will lower your credit score so it’s a good idea to give them time to drop off the report.

So even if you don’t think you need a higher credit score, check out the 21 steps to fix a bad credit score below and plan ahead. Just a 100 point difference in your FICO score can mean rates that are 21% lower on personal loans.

I’ve included a great credit score infographic here with my favorite ways to boost a bad credit score fast but be sure to scroll down for the full list of 21 ways to improve your credit and a special deal on credit monitoring to stop identity theft!

fix credit score steps fast

Why You Need to Check Your Credit Score from Time to Time

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about your credit score until there’s a problem. However, it is important to know the ins and outs of your financial picture by checking your credit score on a regular basis. Here are five reasons why you should check your credit score from time to time:

1. It helps you stay organized.

One of the best uses of your credit report is to get it organized before any problems arise. By knowing what is in that lengthy document, you can prepare yourself for any challenges that may come up with lenders or creditors. A great way to keep track of all of the companies you work with every day is to print out copies and highlight which ones require monthly maintenance along with how much of your available credit you spend out.

2. You spot any inaccuracies

Every person who is entitled to a copy of their credit report should check it for any inaccuracies on at least an annual basis, but preferably quarterly or monthly depending on how much you use or change your personal information. Things like outdated account information, wrong monthly payments amounts and incorrect contact details can end up costing you money in the long run if left unchecked as these can lead to missed payments and hefty fees from collection agencies.

3. It increases your privacy

Just because you’re checking your own credit doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t checking it as well, but there are ways to increase privacy without sacrificing opportunities for yourself simply by being proactive about monitoring your credit. By having access to your own personal information, you can monitor any fraudulent activity instead of waiting for someone to realize that the credit card number you used is no longer valid or that somebody has been using your social security number to establish new accounts in your name.

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4. It identifies risks

One thing a person checking their credit score should keep a special eye out for is any indications of risk which can lead to future problems if they aren’t handled properly by contacting creditors and lenders immediately. Red flags include missed payments, multiple late payments, an unusual number of hard inquiries from lenders or creditors and extended delinquencies on accounts such as utility bills or phone service where payment is expected every month without fail. On the other hand, paying off a debt or a series of debts can also have an effect on your credit, so it is important to be familiar with how lenders and creditors will view improvements in your financial stability.

5. It helps you better understand the system

One of the best things about checking your credit score from time to time is that each person has a unique funding history which makes their credit report different from anyone else’s. By reading up on what information other people find valuable and how they interpret that data, you can learn more about yourself and others as well as how lenders and creditors make their decisions regarding who gets approved for loans and other financial services such as utility companies and insurance providers.

So don’t wait until there’s a problem to check your credit score. By spending a few minutes each month, you can identify problems early and save yourself lots of headaches down the road.

21 Steps to Increase your Credit Score Now

1) Understand why you have a bad credit score

If you are going to fix your credit score, you need to understand what your credit score is and how it works. The credit score is a number, generally between 300 and 850 assigned by one of three agencies. That bad credit score is based on a variety of factors like your ability to pay off more debt, your credit history and other things that might help creditors make the decision whether you will pay them back.

A score below 600 will generally mean you’ll have trouble getting loans or will have to pay a higher interest rate. A score of 720 or above will generally get you better interest rates.

While the credit rating agencies don’t release the exact details of their rating systems, we do know the five basic factors and how they contribute to a bad credit score.

Get a debt consolidation loan to pay off your credit cards – check for details

Bad Credit score factors
Bad Credit score factors

There are a few credit score factors that you won’t really have much control over except going forward. If you’ve had a history of paying late or defaulting on your debt, there’s nothing you can do about it now. It is going to show up in your payment history, the biggest credit score factor, but resolving to pay on-time in the future will help increase your score.

Understand that part of fixing a bad credit score is understanding why your score is so bad and living up to it.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the parts of my bad credit I cannot change, courage to not overspend on that President’s Day sale and the wisdom to fix my credit”

The length of your credit history is also something you’ve got no control over. The clock has been ticking since you opened your first accounts. Fortunately credit history length is only 15% of your credit scoring factors.

Total amount owed is how much you owe and how much it is compared to your total available credit. Even if you owe a relatively large amount, say $5k but you have another $25,000 available in new credit, then it doesn’t appear to creditors as if you’ve maxed yourself out. Max out your credit and new creditors figure you’ll have no other alternative but to default if times get tough.

New credit is a relatively small factor contributing to a bad credit score but is important because you can control this one. Calling around and inquiring or opening a lot of new credit lines will drive your credit score lower. It’s generally a good idea to give yourself about six months after inquiries and open credit accounts before you go to apply for a large credit loan.

Types of credit are important as well. Revolving credit, like credit cards where you can keep charging debt, hurts your score more than non-revolving debt like a car loan or home mortgage.

The idea here is that you have fixed payments and a payoff date on your non-revolving debt so it’s harder to get into financial trouble. Those credit card bills can really start piling up and it’s much easier to get in over your head.

Check your rate on a loan up to $35,000 – won’t affect your credit score

2) Keep the contact information for credit score companies

Contacting the credit bureaus is going to be an important part of fixing a bad credit score so you need to have their addresses handy. If an error on your credit report is causing the bad credit score, you have to contact the companies directly.

steps to fix your credit
steps to fix your credit score report

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc
Address: P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
Telephone: 1_888_766_0008

TransUnion LLC Consumer Disclosure Center
Address: P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
Telephone: 1_800_680_7289

Experian National Consumer Assistance Center
Address: 475 Anton Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Telephone: 1_888_397_3742

3) Review your credit score and reports for accuracy

The first step to fixing your credit score is to check your three reports for errors. It doesn’t happen a lot but the Federal Trade Commission estimates that at least 5% of reports contain an error. Even one error could mean the difference between a great score with a low rate loan and a bad credit score with a rate in the double-digits, causing you to pay thousands in additional interest every year.

Use Annual Credit Report
Use Annual Credit Report to Fix your Credit Score

You can download your free credit report once a year from to check the details on your debts. I usually like to check my credit report and score at least two or three times a year just to make sure I haven’t been a victim of identity theft. I use the TransUnion credit monitoring service when my annual credit report isn’t available. The report comes directly from  the reporting agencies and I get my FICO score. They often have discount deals to get your report and score for a dollar so it’s a fairly good deal.

4) Remove negative comments from reports to fix a bad credit score

This is one of my favorite steps because it can really boost your bad credit score. The first step is to write a dispute letter to the credit bureau about any errors on the report. Send it certified mail and mark as “return receipt requested” for your records.

The credit bureau is required to investigate the claim and will contact the company that posted the negative account. If the credit bureau does not hear back from the company, they will remove the account from your report. The credit bureau is also required to follow up with you and tell you the result of the investigation.

While most people know about arguing errors on their report, the trick works for getting any negative comment off your account. Sears has bigger problems than verifying charge card accounts that were closed years ago. If you’re lucky, they’ll just not reply to the credit bureau’s information request and you’ll get that missed payment wiped off your record.

5) Get a secured credit card to build up your credit history

If your credit score is too low to get an unsecured card, try getting a secured credit card. It works like a debit card and is easier to get. You deposit a sum of money with the bank, and you’ll have that sum of credit limit on your secured card. Then use the card normally. Pay in full, on time, every month to avoid fees and it should help raise your credit score through payment history.

6) Stop using your credit cards as much.

Limit Credit Usage to Fix your Credit Score
Limit Credit Usage to Fix your Credit Score

If you’re maxed out on your credit, new loans are going to be hard to come by or very expensive. You need to get your credit under control and lower the amount you owe.

If you keep using credit in order to pay off debt, you’re not really making a dent in your debt; you are just shifting your debt around and contributing to your bad credit score. Remember, debt owed and available credit is a big part of your credit score.

You’ll hear this referred to as your credit utilization, the amount you owe as a percentage of total credit. If you owe $5,000 and all your credit lines together equal $10,000 then you’re at a 50% utilization rate. You should aim to keep your credit utilization rate to 30% or less.

Get a debt consolidation loan to pay off your credit cards – check for details

7) Get a peer loan to pay off your credit cards

Personal Loans show up on your credit score as non-revolving lines of credit since they have a fixed payment and you cannot continuously keep charging more debt. While a high amount of any type of credit will hurt your score, non-revolving credit doesn’t hurt your score as much. Use a peer loan to pay off revolving credit like charge cards but just make sure you don’t run out charge more on your cards. Just make sure you avoid these 3 biggest risks in peer lending.

PersonalLoans is one of the largest providers of peer and personal loans though you’ll need a credit score above 580 to apply. Rates are competitive with most other loans and debt consolidation continues to be the most popular use of loans. Checking your rate will not affect your credit score and most loans are funded within a few days.

peer to peer online loans sites to Fix your Credit Score
Peer to Peer Lending Sites to Fix your Credit Score

8) Add good credit accounts to fix your bad credit score

It sounds weird that you would want to open more credit accounts to fix your credit score but it does work. If you don’t have much of a payment history or many lines of credit, try opening a couple of new cards. Use them normally and pay them off each month.

This will increase your available credit, lowering your utilization ratio, and will also help improve your payment history.

Do this within reason, you don’t need more than a few credit card accounts to help build your score. Do this six months before a major loan so you won’t have a lot of inquiries or new accounts on your credit reports.

Check out this Resource List of the Best Personal Loan Sites for Special Features and Discounts

9) Become an authorized user on another credit card

If you are not able to get any credit cards of your own, you might try getting noted as an authorized user on someone else’s card. This will help build up your credit while being listed on their card. It may take some convincing, especially if you have not been financially responsible in the past.

This one is tricky because you absolutely have to hold up your end of the bargain and use the credit responsibly. Leaving your friend with the bill will not help your credit score or your friendship.

10) Decide whether to avalanche or snowball your debt

Debt owed is a big credit score factor so you need a plan on paying off credit. Avalanching your debt means paying off the highest interest rates first. It starts by listing all your debts in order of the interest rate. You continue to make minimum payments on all but pay as much extra as you can afford to the first on the list.

Once you pay the highest rate credit line off, you move on to the next on the list and pay it off.

Snowballing your debt is another strategy and involves paying off the smallest accounts first. List all your credit lines from smallest to largest amount owed. Any extra money after minimum payments goes to paying off the smallest accounts.

You may end up paying more in interest with this method, since you aren’t focusing on high-interest loans, but it feels really good to see those credit accounts drop off your list quickly and can motivate you to keep going.

Pay off Debt with the debt snowball method
Pay off Debt and Fix your Credit Score

11) Once you pay off your debt, make sure you get a settlement letter.

Send a copy of your letter to the credit bureaus so they can update your credit report right away. This should have an effect on your credit score and your ability to borrow money.

12) Negotiate with creditors to fix a bad credit score

Contact creditors with negative comments on your credit reports. Offer to pay off the debt or a portion of it if they will agree to contact the credit bureau and remove it from your report. Get the deal in writing and hold up your end. This can be a really effective way of getting negative accounts removed from your report and boosting your credit score.

13) Create a budget and keep it to fix your credit score

This one should probably be at the top of the list to get you started but it isn’t directly related to fixing your credit score so I put it here. If you continuously overspend and can’t stick to a budget then fixing your credit score will do little good after you destroy it again. We covered setting realistic financial goals and a budget strategy you can keep in a prior post. Check it out for some good ideas on budgeting.

14) Get current on your payments and stay current

With payment history the biggest credit score factor, you really need to get your bills current and keep it that way. Negotiate the amounts you owe or find some way to get current on your bills then keep making on-time payments.

Stay current to fix your credit score

15) Don’t close your credit accounts

Closing a lot of accounts suddenly may affect your credit score as well. It’s ok to close accounts you don’t use or to do it to keep yourself from overspending, just try to close accounts at least six months before you need to apply for any big loans.

16) Set up payment reminders on your bills

We all get busy and forget to pay our bills from time to time. Make it easy on yourself and set up email or text reminders for when you need to pay bills. You could also enroll in automatic payments, which are automatically debited from your bank account. Making your credit payments on time is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit score.

17) Look out for identity theft

Even as the victim, identity theft can ruin your credit and haunt you well after you’ve got the situation resolved. Make sure you check your bank accounts and credit cards regularly, I like to do this once a week. You may want to set up an account with a credit monitoring service as well to make sure no one is opening credit card accounts in your name.

Identity theft happens every two seconds in America. Check out this article to find out how to avoid being a victim!

18) Be careful of inquiries on your credit report

This goes back to something we talked about earlier in the article. Every time someone looks at your credit report, the inquiry is noted. If you have lots of inquiries on your report, it may appear that you are shopping for several loans at once or that you have been rejected by lenders.

Both make you appear a poor credit risk and contribute to a bad credit score.

19) Don’t think that having no loans or debts will improve your credit score

Lenders want to see that you can handle credit, and the only way they can tell is if you have credit that you handle responsibly. If you currently have no credit accounts at all, opening a low balance credit card can actually boost your credit score.

20) Know the difference between soft and hard inquiries

A soft inquiry in when you pull your credit report to look at it. Hard inquiries from lenders will affect your credit score. Checking your credit score too often is an expensive habit. However, you should not avoid checking your credit report because you fear it will make your credit rating worse.

21) Have enough insurance

Not having enough insurance to cover health problems or accidents can cause you to borrow beyond your ability to repay and get you into credit problems. Nobody likes paying every month for something they’re not sure they’ll even need but it is a small price to pay if the situation arises. Check out this earlier post if you’re unsure about how much insurance you really need.

Recap of How to Fix Your Credit Score

  1. Understand why you have bad credit
  2. Review your free credit report for errors
  3. Consider debt consolidation to reduce bills
  4. Avalanche or snowball your debt to pay off debt faster
  5. Consider a credit limit increase to improve credit utilization ratio
  6. Use credit and debt wisely, spending only what you can afford
  7. Negotiate with creditors to fix your bad credit remarks
  8. Set up payment reminders and stay current
  9. Watch your credit score zoom higher!

How does your credit score stack up against the average? I dug into loan data to find everything on the average American’s credit report including how much they owe, how many payments they’ve missed and other facts.

Read the Entire Fixing Your Credit Score Series


  1. This is a great source of information to how about Credit score. A bad credit score can really put your future in dark by banks not allowing your for any kind of loan. Thanks for sharing this useful info in such a beautiful way. It is really very helpful.

  2. This was awesome. I will take some of the ideas and put into practice.

    Sheila G

  3. Andrew Edmonds says

    Thanx for sharing this great information with us. Thats very important for all people to knowing this important thing about Finance…

  4. victoria bowman says

    I contacted this credit repair service who fix credit score. my score is practically a mess and i already paid every bill but still need my score to boost to what I require. it did 10% but now trying this new method by using their repair service,now my score is now amazing. you can contact them if you have any issue with your credit report.
    Thank me later.

  5. Williams TM Billard says

    Hey,i had the same issue of getting approved by creditors due to my low score and low history,but i bypassed a credit repair agency website and i was directed to their customer support and i was told what to do and within few days my bad credit report went back on tracks

  6. Thanks for sharing your post. A bad credit score can really put your future in dark by banks not allowing your for any kind of loan.

  7. A lot of people don’t even realise that you can negotiate with creditors. However, it’s one of the best ways to significantly reduce your debt and start to repair your credit score. Explain to the debt provider that you aren’t in a financial position to make the payments but want to make some sort of contribution, how can they help you…

  8. I was in a terrible situation sometimes last year. We urgently needed to get a new house, my score and partner’s score too was bad. We tried all we could to get a loan but all effort was in vain due to the bad credit score.An lawyer I contacted to help dispute our collections requested for $1000 upfront, the major credit repair companies gave a year estimate to get us to where we need to be, God so good to us, I later met with a credit score specialist and instructor, he gave me some instructions and requested some information from me regarding my credit score in which I provided everything to him. Luckily for me, this man was able to fix my credit score, i grew from 560 to 770.I was so amazed because he completely removed all my inquires, collections and late payments, I’m happy to tell you that I’m writing this review from our new house which I wouldn’t have got without help.

  9. What great info . A lot I have tried already and increased my score by 100 points just by doing two items on this post.

  10. BuzzDaddy says

    I have several closed accounts on my credit report. (Didn’t know that it would hurt my score and credit) How do I have the closed accounts taken off my report beings they were closed 10 to 13 years ago? I’m thinking there still on there because of my bankruptcy. I thought they suppose to fall off after 7 years.
    Can you help me?

    • Closed accounts should fall off after seven or ten years, depending on your state. You can write the credit reporting bureaus to see if you can get negative remarks or closed accounts removed. I’ve heard they’ve been slow to respond lately but legally they have to reply to your requests.

  11. After 6 years of recovering from bankruptcy and having all my payments on time and keeping my debt low, my score is only 680…it appears the the bankruptcy is still dominating my bad credit score. In addition, I noticed that my “length of credit” is low too….only showing debt since my bankruptcy….I would appreciate it if you have any tips for me to improve my score as I now need to do some home improvements and the bank won’t even take my application and I won’t subject my self to predatory lenders….HELP!!!

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