I Finally Entered the 800 Club. Here’s How I Improved My Credit

Since January 2018, my credit score was stuck at 799 and it was killing me that I was 1 damn point away from my personal goal.

So you can only imagine my dance celebration when I saw my FICO score update!

Three years ago, my FICO score was in the low 600s.

I wasn’t happy about it at all. I was getting married at the time and I challenged myself to get to 800 and to maintain it for the betterment of the family finances. However, I had no idea how long it would take me to get to this point. So I’ve got to admit, it feels damn good to achieve this goal. I’ve worked hard at it and I’ve watched my credit report every year like a hawk and I pulled every trick in the book to get myself to cross this finish line.

Truth be told, it’s not so much about having the 800 credit score or what I can get from it because I have no intention to apply for more credit or to use more credit…it’s actually more about setting a personal goal and achieving it. As I’ve helped others build their credit with my personal recommendations and strategies, this serves as a testimony that I’ve used the methods I’ve shared with others and that it actually works.

Back in May 16, 2017, I wrote a blog post about how my credit score increased by 100 points within 1 year, which was a huge milestone at the time. From that point until now, I didn’t change my strategy in any way. I simply stopped applying for more credit and I set my methods on cruise control.

Increasing your credit score takes time, A LOT of patience, and holding yourself accountable to your personal game plan. If you’re on the path to build your credit score, check out some other articles I’ve written about credit and these 4 brief tips.

4 tips for anyone trying to improve their credit score

• Stop applying for more credit. The more credit inquiries you have, you’re giving yourself less time to build your credit history and the average credit history.

• Maintain 0% credit card utilization. If you can, don’t revolve balances on credit cards. The balances you maintain and pay interest on impacts 30% of your credit score. This is why I use charge cards because it doesn’t report a utilization rate to my credit reports (this played a huge part in getting my score to the 800s).

• Pay on time, every time. Plain and simple, don’t be late with your accounts. Make sure you’re always paying the minimum payment on time. Late payments can literally screw your credit score.

•Take care of your derogatory accounts, right away! Back in college I overlooked an AT&T bill and they reported me to collections for like $200 bucks. This set my credit score back and gave me a costly start to my financial life. My credit score was so bad, I had a car loan and the APR was nearly 13%. Yea, I know….So, if you’ve got a derogatory account such as medical bills, cell phone bills, or whatever – take care of them right away. If you don’t know how to go about dealing with your debt collectors I wrote a blog post about negotiating with your debt collectors and the tips I recommend. 

So, what’s next for me? I guess I’ll shoot for 850, but it’s not a priority. As long as I maintain the score above 800 I’ll be happy.

What can I do with an 800 credit score?

I started to wonder, is there a substantial difference with having an 800 credit score? The answer is a definite yes! If you are in the market for credit cards, mortgages, or car loans, a credit score in the 800s will allow you to acquire loans and credit for a substantially cheaper interest rate compared to those who have credit scores in the low 700s and 600s. For example, comparing myself now to myself 3-4 years ago, I’ll never see a 13% APR offer for an auto loan.

Also, having a strong credit score increases your access to credit from financial institutions. So you’ll be able to borrow more at lower costs.

Don’t get too excited about borrowing more at a cheaper cost because if you know me I preach the debt-free principle and if you don’t have the cash to pay for something then don’t borrow it, but you get the point.

My overall message is to stay focused on your personal goals. Whether it’s to get out of debt, pay student loans or to increase your credit score, be patient and remain consistent with a solid strategy.

Alex Castro
Alex Castro

Blogger, Money Qlip

Alex Castro has a MBA from Nova's Huizenga Business School and is a professional in the financial services and payments industry. Alex is the founder of the personal finance blog MoneyQlip.com.

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