When it comes to major investments like your home and vehicle, having solid credit is usually necessary to obtain approval with affordable rates. The thing is, many people do not. According to a 2019 study, lenders have turned down more than half of Americans for bad credit.

If you are one of the many individuals who are struggling to make a purchase that can help move you forward in the next step of your life, it can be challenging to feel tied to a credit score. With that said, there is hope. One way to improve the situation is by working on your credit. It will inevitably take some time, but here are some ways to fix things up as quickly as possible.

1. Look Up Your History

When a bank turns you down for a loan, it is after their representatives have had the opportunity to review your financial history. Usually, this begins with a credit check. To get ahead of the game, you can look this information up yourself with a free online service. Having an awareness of where your credit stands can be helpful when making future financial decisions.

2. Minimize Credit Use

One of the best ways to get a handle on your credit is by working to minimize utilization of it as much as possible. Ideally, you want to aim for 30% credit use or less. Sometimes, emergencies come up that require people to use more than this. While those instances may happen, try to keep utilization under 30% during non-emergency uses.

3. Limit Hard Credit Inquiries

When checking credit, there are two kinds of inquiries that you may perform, “hard” and “soft” requests. Whenever you look up your own history online with a free tool, that is typically a “soft” inquiry that does not harm your credit. In contrast, “hard” inquiries are those that come from banks when you apply for credit cards, an auto loan or a mortgage. Too many of these latter types of hard credit checks can be harmful to your credit.

4. Ask for Higher Limits

While this is more of a short-term solution, you can also ask for higher credit limits on all of your existing credit cards and personal loans. By doing this, you can instantly reduce your overall credit utilization. With that said, be mindful of not overspending. Just because your credit limit is $5000 does not mean you need to max it out with $5000 worth of purchases.

5. Be Timely With Payments

Few things can tarnish a shiny credit score as quickly as a late credit card payment. As such, it is important that you make sure to pay at least your minimum payments on time every month. If you think you may be late for some reason, call your credit card company and tell them your situation. Often, banks offer some wiggle room if you notify them in advance of a missed payment.

6. Fix Credit Report Errors

Another tricky issue that some individuals run into is having errors in their credit reports. If this happens to you, it can really pull down your overall credit score. To offer it a quick boost, go through your history and dispute any errors that catch your attention.

7. Try a Secured Card

For those who are struggling to get a regular credit card due to past financial history, another useful option may be to try a secured credit card. With this type of credit card, you put money on the card and then use it as a debit card. Meanwhile, it helps you build your credit by reporting your purchases and payments to the three major credit bureaus.
If you are struggling with less-than-perfect credit, you are definitely not alone. These seven tips can help you start improving your situation today.