AARP holds senators accountable for key bipartisan Medicare vote. Learn more


Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Contests and

You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation!

Hawaii, the Grand Canyon or an Alaskan Cruise! No purchase necessary. Ends May 31. See official rules.

Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation
Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Money Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


Ask Sid

How Can I Raise My Credit Score?

Pay bills on time — and don't forget those library fines

Q. I want to refinance my mortgage. How can I quickly raise my credit score and get a better interest rate?

A. There are no quick fixes, since credit scores reflect your history of payments. The good news: More emphasis is placed on recent information in your credit report than on older habits.

See also: Find your true credit score.

Paying bills before their due date is the first step, because paying on time represents about 35 percent of a FICO, the most widely used credit score. But how much you pay on a credit card balance is a close second, historically representing about 30 percent of the score but gaining increased attention in recent years.

So pay down balances as much as possible at least two months before you apply for a mortgage or other loan. If you can't pay balances off entirely, shoot to owe less than 50 percent of your credit limit on any individual card and no more than 33 percent of your limit on all cards combined.

Other ways to flex a FICO:

  • Don't open new credit accounts hoping for a better credit picture. That usually won't raise your FICO score and in some instances may lower it.
  • Avoid canceling unused credit cards, another practice that can backfire and lower your FICO score. Instead, keep them active but with zero balances.
  • Unresolved collections can produce a negative effect similar to late payments, so it's no time to have overdue library book fees, unpaid parking tickets or small bills you've neglected to pay. All of these can be referred to a collection agency and show up on your credit history.
  • Consider purchasing your credit score ($19.95 at before you start rate-shopping. By knowing it, you can better determine your likely interest rate — when calling for quotes, say, "My FICO is X. What rate would I get?" This will also help head off having lots of potential lenders checking your history at a credit bureau just to give you quotes you may never use — too many inquiries from lenders in a short period may lower your credit score.

You may also like: Understanding credit scores. >>

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Credit safeguards with AARP® Identity Theft Protection from TrustedID®.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Man using cell phone outdoors

Members save on monthly service & usage fees and get free activation with Consumer Cellular.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.