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    Are you one of the millions of Americans with a below average credit score? Did you know that missing one payment can affect your credit score for up to ten years? Unfortunately, there is no instant solution for bad credit, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in a rut forever. There are actions you can take that will give your credit score a quick boost. If your credit score is less than perfect, you may be able to raise your score in as little as 30 days with a few pointers.

    Automate Your Bills

    We lead busy lives. The fact is it’s not hard for a bill to be forgotten here and there. One of the easiest ways to combat this is by setting up automatic payments. In most cases, you can set this up directly through your bank. When scheduling automatic debits, you can choose the payment date. If you get paid on the 15th of every month, schedule your automatic debits to be paid on the 16th. This way, you know your account will always have the funds, and you won’t have added stress about paying your bills on time.

    Check Your Credit Score

    The federal government allows you to receive an annual credit report from all three credit bureaus at no charge. Make it a point to take advantage of this benefit every year to avoid surprises and errors on your report. There is a host of paid services that allow you to check your credit report and score as often as you’d like. If you’re focusing on raising your score quickly, one of these services may be worth the cost.

    A great way to ensure the best credit score possible is by regularly inspecting your credit report for errors. Taking the time to dispute an error on your credit report is hugely beneficial when you want to bump your score up quickly. While the process of disputing an error can be a bit challenging, the rewards are well worth the effort.

    Ask Forgiveness

    In addition to disputing errors, you may be able to get your other accounts in better standing by simply contacting them and requesting removal of negative comments. Let’s say you missed a credit card payment and have been 30 days behind on that payment for six months. Calling the credit card company and settling the difference may be enough to have the negative remarks removed. This doesn’t always work, but it’s definitely worth a shot.

    Decrease Debt Ratio

    One of the largest factors in determining your credit score is the debt to spending ratio. If your credit cards are at the top of their limit, your debt ratio is high, thus lowering your overall credit score. Paying down your credit cards will increase your credit score in as little as 30 days.

    The best course of action is to keep your credit cards under 20% of their spending limit. It is also important that you use your credit cards every month to keep them in an active status. Using a credit card to fill your gas tank every month is enough to keep the card active. For best results, pay that amount off at the end of the month to maintain a low debt ratio.

    Another way to improve your spending ratio without a credit inquiry is by setting up a secured credit card. A secured credit card works like a credit card but uses the money from your savings account rather than a credit limit. This will offset your debt ratio and give you another positive account on your report. Most banks offer this service, and it will give you an instant credit score boost of up to 50 points.

    Don’t Apply for Credit

    Applying for credit will create an inquiry on your credit report. These inquiries can cost you up to 25 points off of your credit score which can be a devastating hit. This can be challenging when you’re shopping around for a car loan or a mortgage. Limiting a number of credit inquiries will not improve your score, but will keep it from declining rapidly.

    The Road Ahead

    There is no sure-fire way to improve your credit score instantly. There are several steps you can take to move your credit score in the right direction, but unfortunately, this can be a long process. Repairing poor credit can take years in some cases, but taking the steps outlined above will make it a more speedy process.