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Your credit score is an essential part of your finances. If you are interested in buying a home or a new vehicle with a loan, you may need to fix your credit score ASAP. The difference between an excellent credit score and a poor one can be worth tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage if you can get approved at all. While fixing a credit score can take up to a decade, there are some steps you can take today to get your credit score on the mend. If you want to fix your credit score ASAP, follow along to learn more.

Fix your credit tip #1: 100% on-time payments

The biggest factor in your credit score is your on-time payment history. If you have a series of late or missed payments, your first step to fix your credit score is to turn that trend around. Late payments stay on your credit for seven years, and there is no quick fix to get them removed. But you can start the clock to remove them all for good this month with your first of a lifetime of perfect on-time payments going forward.

If you have trouble keeping up with the bills, stop using your credit cards and set the payments to automatic. This way, you never have a late payment to worry about! Even if you don’t have a monthly payment due, many credit cards report an on-time payment. Whatever you have to do to keep a 100% on-time rate going forward, do it!

Fix your credit tip #2: Pay down balances

The fastest way to fix your credit score in a hurry is to pay off revolving credit balances. A revolving credit account is an account where you can add to your balance in the future. This means credit cards and other lines of credit need to be paid down as quickly as possible to raise your score. While it is easier said than done, if you can pay your credit cards down to zero, you should see your score increase if you carried a balance in the past.

If you need help putting together a credit card payoff strategy, consider the debt snowball or debt avalanche. This is a method of focusing on paying off one account at a time while making minimum payments on the others. As you pay off each account, your focus payment gets bigger and bigger and has a snowball effect of paying off your debt accounts.

Fix your credit tip #3: Be patient

If you follow tip #1 and tip #2 and don’t do anything else, you should see your credit score go up in the long-run. If you want to fix your credit permanently, however, it takes time. Those previous late payments hurt your score less and less over time, but it will take the whole seven years for them to go away for good. There is no quick answer to that part of fixing your credit. You have to be patient.

But if you build the right credit habits and hold to them for years, your credit will improve. While you are at it, don’t mess with your credit too much. Adding new accounts, increased credit limits, and even applying for a new credit card can temporarily lower your credit score. The more you can keep your hands off and just let your credit accounts age with perfect payment records, the better off your credit will be.

Your credit score is in your hands

It’s easy to blame credit card companies, debt collectors, and banks for a bad credit score, but in reality, your credit score is in your control. If you take charge and make your credit a focus, you should be able to fix your credit over time. When you want to borrow with the best terms or use the best credit cards for miles and points rewards, you’ll be thrilled you have excellent credit.

Following these habits, I’ve been able to build my own 800+ credit score. That helped me buy my home and earn hundreds of thousands of travel rewards points for free trips around the world It couldn’t have happened without my excellent credit score. If you want to join me in the 800+ club, follow these key tips to fix your credit score starting today.

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally from Denver, Colorado living in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and baby girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog Personal Profitability.

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