It often happens that we go for a long period of time without needing credit. If you’re income is sufficient, and you are not making any major purchases or looking for a job (since employers may wish to check your credit history), months or years can go by without your credit score being an issue.

But your credit can become an issue very quickly, if the time comes to rent an apartment, buy a house, or start a job search, or for other reasons. You may then learn that your credit score is not at the level you would like, or need, to secure the benefits of good credit that you are seeking. How do you fix your credit in a hurry? There are actually quite a number of effective methods, but before reviewing them, we should mention that as a preliminary matter, you should get copies of your credit reports.

The three major credit reporting bureaus are required by law to give you a copy once a year, and a quick visit to will allow you to secure those copies. Once you have them, review them and see if you can identify any errors. Believe it or not, credit bureaus make mistakes, and since you know your payment history better than anyone, it should not be too hard for you to figure them out. Once you do, you can dispute the error with whichever bureau made it, whether Equifax, Transunion, or Experian. Now, here’s that list of ways to quickly improve your credit.

Contact Your Creditors, And Play Let’s Make A Deal.

Unpaid creditors recognize that, after a certain period of time, most of the debts on their books are unlikely to be paid in full.  If you offer to pay the remaining balance in exchange for their agreement to erase the debt or any related collection account, in many cases, they will jump at the chance. The creditor then has the option of reporting the account as “paid as agreed,” and might remove it entirely.

Ask For A “Good Will Adjustment.”

This is a good idea if you have a fairly good payment history with a particular credit card or other creditor, but not a perfect history, and you are current with them right now. By writing them a letter, or more likely sending an email, stressing that you have been a very good if not perfect customer for them, and asking for the deficiencies to be removed from your credit report. Remember, these card companies in particular do not want to lose your business, so they will be responsive if they feel they can be.

Build A Credit History If You Are Lacking One.

Consumers who simply use debit cards and cash will discover that they have, not a bad credit history, but virtually no credit history at all. The result will be credit scores that are quite low, even though they have never been in debt.

If this describes you, then like it or not, you will need to enter the world of credit if you want to achieve the credit score that you need to get an auto loan or mortgage on favorable terms, or to impress an employer, or for whatever other use you have in mind for that credit.  The easiest way is to apply for a credit card, even something as simple as a gasoline card, make purchases with it, and pay off the balance each month. Your credit score should rise as soon as the bureaus have a payment history to evaluate.

And if your credit score is not sufficient, secured credit cards, that require payment of a deposit, and place a limit on credit that is usually equal to the deposit amount, are available, and these will allow you to begin building up a responsible credit history.

Become An Authorized User On Someone Else’s Cards.

If your loved ones are particularly trusting, you can ask one of them for permission to become an authorized user of one of their cards. They, of course, will be on the hook for your credit purchases if you don’t pay them off yourself, so don’t use this technique to burn your family or friends! It is, however, a quick way to build a better payment history.

Try To Raise Your Card Limit.

If you have been bumping up against your credit limit, contact your card issuers, and ask them to raise it. They might just say yes, and those reports to the credit bureaus of credit in excess of your limit will cease.

Lower Your Credit Utilization Rate.

This rate is the ratio of the average amount of credit you have outstanding to your credit limit. This rate is reported to the bureaus, and is factored into the calculation of your credit score. The lower this rate is, of course, the better, so reducing your outstanding credit (and/or raising your limits) will help raise your credit scores.

There are other effective methods to raise your credit scores, but these are the most basic and obvious ones to pursue. A bit of patience will be required however, because one or two months will usually be needed for these efforts to bear fruit. The earlier you start, though, the sooner your scores will improve.