Rebuilding Credit Without Getting New Credit: Checklist

Here's how to improve your credit score without opening new credit accounts.

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Have you recently filed for bankruptcy, gone through foreclosure, or have suffered some other major blow to your credit? If you’re ready to begin rebuilding credit, consider ways to do so without getting new credit. Here’s how.

New Credit Is Not the Only Way to Rebuild Credit

You may think that to reestablish good credit, you need to jump back into the credit market as soon as possible by applying for new credit. But that is not always true. Creditors base creditworthiness on more than just credit accounts. They also look at your stability and assets—how long you have been in the same job or in the same field, how long you have been living at the same address, and whether you have bank accounts. (Learn more about what creditors consider when determining your creditworthiness.)

And for some people, getting new credit too soon is dangerous. Not only will you pay higher interest rates for that credit, but you might be tempted to use too much of it.

How to Rebuild Credit Without Getting New Credit

There are many ways you can rebuild credit without getting new credit. Here’s a checklist of ideas:

  • Open savings, checking, or money market accounts. (See Rebuilding Credit by Opening Deposit Accounts.)
  • Use existing credit cards wisely. If you still have a credit cards or a department store or gasoline card, use it and pay your bills on time. But only if it has a grace period.  Your credit history will improve quickly. Most credit ­reports show payment histories for two to four years. If you charge something every month or so, no matter how small, and pay it off within the grace period (usually 21 days or so after you receive the bill), your credit report will show steady and proper use of revolving credit.
  • Increase the credit limit on existing credit cards. (See Improve Credit by Increasing Your Credit Card Limit.)
  • Get credit in your own name if you are married, divorced, or separated and most of the credit accounts are in your spouse’s name. (See Build Credit in Your Own Name.)
  • Add information that is not already in your credit reports. This includes information demonstrating your financial stability (like job and address information) as well as accounts that are missing from your credit report. (See Adding Positive Information to Your Credit Report.)

For more on credit reports, credit scores, and rebuilding credit, see our Credit Repair topic.

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