If Your Credit Score Is Under 800, Make These 8 Moves Now

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You can have many years of good credit under your belt without reaching the coveted 800 club. Make no mistake, it is possible to achieve an 800 credit score — and it’s easier the longer you’ve had a line of credit open. Getting a credit score that high requires both time and good payment history. But there are other things you can do to get a high credit score, too.

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Here are eight steps you can take to get an 800 credit score.

1. Know the Facts

Once you’re able to answer the question, “What is a perfect credit score?” you’ll be able to move on to and figure out how to get a perfect credit score. First, you have to figure out where you stand on the FICO scale.

Once a year, you can request a free annual credit report from the country’s top three credit reporting companies. If you find any issues on your Experian, Equifax or TransUnion free credit report, you should take action immediately to correct your credit reports.

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2. Establish a Long Credit History

Lenders typically view borrowers with short credit histories as riskier. To reach an 800 credit score, you’ll need to establish and maintain a long history, so keep those old accounts open — even if you don’t use them anymore and have no balance — instead of having them removed from your credit report.

3. Pay Your Bills on Time

Payment history is extremely important when it comes to attaining the perfect credit score. Paying your bills late will result in a decrease in your overall score. Consider signing up for automatic payments to ensure everything is paid on time.

4. Redefine Credit Card Usage

Thirty percent of your credit score consists of your credit utilization rate, which is your debt divided by your total available credit. Typically you’ll want to have a credit utilization rate of 30% or less, so if you have a credit card with a limit of $1,000 and you currently owe $300, you’re at that limit. Obtaining more debt could negatively impact your credit score.

5. Diversify Your Accounts

You can strengthen your credit by diversifying your accounts. This doesn’t mean you should open 10 different credit card accounts; what it means is that you should have different types of credit, such as a mortgage, a financed auto loan, a student loan and a few credit cards.

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6. Cut Spending

One way to get closer to an 800 credit score is to create a budget you can stick with that limits your spending to what you can afford. Although your income doesn’t factor into your credit score, living within your means can raise your score. Try to cut unnecessary spending, such as eating out a lot or subscribing to cable channels you rarely watch.

7. Limit Your Liability

When you co-sign a loan, you are taking a risk for someone — if that person doesn’t manage the debt well, it could affect your credit score because you’re responsible for the debt, too. If you want the highest credit score you can get, it’s a good idea to shy away from co-signing.

In addition, limit your liability by reporting any lost or stolen credit cards right away. If you don’t, you might be liable for any unauthorized purchases, and if you can’t afford them, it’s your credit score that will suffer.

8. Restrict Hard Inquiries

When you — or someone else — requests a copy of your credit report it is called an inquiry. A soft inquiry, which generally doesn’t affect your credit, occurs when you:

  • Check your own credit report.
  • Give a potential employer permission to check your credit.
  • Have financial institutions you do business with check your credit.
  • Get a preapproved credit card offer and the company checks your credit.
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A hard inquiry, which can affect your credit score, occurs when a company pulls your credit report after you apply for a product like a mortgage or a credit card. Try to limit hard inquiries as much as possible.

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About the Author

Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance, travel, gardening and education. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in Chron.com, Livestrong, eHow, USA TODAY, GlobalPost, Education.com and wiseGEEK.
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