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Can You Increase Your Credit Score in One Month?

Probably not… but I tried!

We recently put in an offer on a new home and one of the fun parts of the home buying process is getting a mortgage loan. One of the fun parts of getting a home mortgage loan is finding out whether or your not you can get on in the first place and how much it’ll cost you!

When the lender pulled our credit, we found out that the bank would be taking the our median credit score [3] and using that as our score. As cruel fate would have it, our middle score happened to be 739. 739 puts it exactly one point under 740, which would’ve made us eligible for the best possible interest rate. The difference between the two rates was 0.125% APR, which equals thousands over the thirty year life of the mortgage.

Since we didn’t have an accepted offer and we weren’t locking in the rate, we still had a chance to try to boost our score just a little bit in the next month in order to get the best possible rate. We needed just a single point. Here is what we were going to do:

Request Credit Line Increases

It’s been at least six months since I’ve done this but we requested credit line increases [4] from American Express and Citi for the two credit cards we use the most often. The idea here was to lower our credit utilization, which was typically around 7-10%, which is one of the few factors we can control. I was able to secure increases to increase our credit limit by about 15%.

Prepay Credit Card Balances

All of our credit cards have statement periods ending on the 15th, I set that up a few years ago to make things easier. Nowadays we do autopay but I still like having all the statement dates line up so I can check the statements all at once instead of Amex on the 15th, Citi on the 20th, etc. I also like it mid-month because I check bank statements at the end of the month, it kind of breaks up the checking.

Anyway, if you pay your balance before the statement closes, the credit card reports a smaller number to the credit bureau. Presumably that will result in a lower utilization figure as well. When the 15th passed, I saw our utilization was just 2%.

Look For Mistakes

If you review your credit and see an erroneous derogatory mark, you’re lucky – get that fixed and your score will increase. Unfortunately, we had no such “luck.”

Avoid Any New Inquiries

We’ve been casually looking at homes for the last year and only seriously looking the last few months. Since I knew we were thinking about moving, I made sure we didn’t do anything that would trigger a hard inquiry. I also slipped up when looking at getting a Mifi unit (it’s a wireless hotspot) because wireless companies will check your credit before giving you a device. The logic is that they’re giving you a device worth several hundred dollars on the hopes you’ll maintain a two year contract. It’s not that much different than “real” debt.

Hope to get Lucky

After racking my brain for ideas on what to do, I ultimately was just hoping to get a little lucky. Outside of avoiding obvious bad stuff (and even some less obvious bad stuff) and lowering utilization, there isn’t much you can do in the super short term to boost your score.

We would later find out, as a result of dumb luck, that the interest rates moved enough that we were able to get that lower rate by simply paying 0.125 of a point – it would breakeven within a year based on monthly payments – and we didn’t need to go through these gyrations.

We never pulled our credit again though a quick peek at Credit Karma showed no change anyway. 🙁

(Credit: Fosforix [5])