Build Your Credit with Do-It-Yourself Credit Tricks

Okay. You want to build your credit score, but you don’t want to pay a bundle.
Here are a few tricks that will help turn a bad score into a good credit score.
An obvious place to start is with your credit cards.
Here’s a little trick that can really boost your FICO score. (By the way, even though it’s perfectly legal, not one consumer in a thousand knows this technique.)
Most credit cards have a limit: a maximum credit line.
You are allowed to borrow against that credit line up to the maximum amount.
But, you should NOT!
Why not?
Lenders don’t like to make loans to consumers who are constantly “maxing out” their credit cards, because they consider them spendthrifts.
In fact, if the balance on any one of your credit cards is more than 30 percent of the credit line, your FICO score will be penalized.
So how do you reverse that trend … and raise your FICO score?
Here are two easy methods that work and won’t cost you a dime:

  • Transfer balances from one credit card to another, so that none of the balances exceed 30 percent of the credit limit. If necessary, obtain another credit card and transfer some of your balances to it. (But keep in mind that you should never have more than five credit cards, and that you should transfer your balance after you have secured the credit card and know the limit.)
  • Ask the credit card companies to increase your credit limit so that your current balance falls under 30 percent. If you can get the credit card company to raise your limit from $10,000 to $25,000, then you can safely borrow up to $7,499 – and not just $3,000 – on it without jeopardizing your credit.

Now here’s another trick …
You probably don’t know this, but credit card companies routinely under-report the limits on their customers’ credit cards – or, even worse, don’t report them at all. Let’s say your true limit is $10,000. The credit card company might report your limit as only $5,000 to the credit bureaus .
So if you have a $4900 balance, you appear to be “maxing out” the credit card, which will hurt your score.
Why do credit card companies do this? Because it keeps their competitors from offering you other cards.
When competing credit card companies see high limits from another card issuer, they have found credit-worthy borrowers whom they can solicit through the mail.
On the other hand, customers with low limits are not as desirable.
So many credit card companies report incorrect limits just to protect their customer base. But this could be hurting your credit score by causing the bureaus to think you are closer to maxing out your cards.
So what should you do? Simple: Just check your credit report to make sure the bureaus have the correct information. If not, call your credit card company and tell them they must correct the mistake – knowingly reporting incorrect limits is illegal. If you raise heck, the credit card companies will report the correct information.
Philip Tirone