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How to Improve Your Credit Score

This number is crucial to your financial well-being.

When’s the last time you checked your credit report? Errors on your credit report can lower your credit score – and you may not even be aware of them. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) found that one in four people found an error on their credit report that could affect their credit score. And if you’re looking to apply for a mortgage or make a big purchase, fixing your credit first is a smart move. But before you can fix any problem, you need to determine the root cause. There are many factors that make up your credit score, and it takes time for changes to be reflected with the credit bureaus. Understanding how to fix your credit is the first step. Credit Union ONE is here to help you on your journey.

Step 1: Get Your Free Credit Report

The first step towards fixing bad credit is to know what is being reported on your credit report. By law, every U.S. citizen is entitled to a free copy of their credit report every twelve months, available at annualcreditreport.com. You’ll need to pay extra or use a different service to get your actual credit score, but your credit report will show you what’s being stated.

Step 2: Review Credit Report for Errors

One of the easiest ways to improve your credit score is to fix errors on your credit report. Here are some of the common credit report errors to look for:

  • Incorrect street address
  • Incorrect name (look out for a similar name or suffix being reported on your report)
  • Fraudulent accounts, which are accounts you didn’t open. Beware, as this could be identity theft.
  • Incorrect account information such as:
    • Inaccurate credit limits
    • The wrong origination date on a loan
    • Wrong Social Security Number
    • Wrong birth date
    • Spouse’s information is inaccurate
    • Accounts that are mistakenly shown as being open or closed. Look to see if there’s a notation on the account saying if you or the creditor closed the account (and if that’s accurate).
    • Wrong payment status information

Step 3: Dispute Credit Report Errors

Once you’ve reviewed your credit report for errors, next you’ll want to dispute those errors with the credit bureaus. You can do this using a letter (like this sample from the FTC), or you can dispute them online through each of the three credit bureaus. In both scenarios, you’ll want to point out the errors, and state why the information is inaccurate, then request that the items be fixed and/or removed.

It’s a good idea to send a copy of your credit report and, if you are disputing by mail, send it via certified mail. If you prefer to dispute your credit errors online, use the links below for each of the three credit bureau’s pages with information on their process:

After you file a dispute, be diligent and follow up to make sure it was resolved.

Step 4: Lower Debt

Your debt-to-credit (DTC) ratio refers to percentage of your income that goes toward paying your debt each month. Keeping a lower debt-to-credit ratio can help improve your credit score. Lenders want to make sure that you’re living within your means before they allow you to take on more debt.

Strategies for lowering your DTC is to pay down your current debt and get an increase on your credit limit, without utilizing it. Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your scores by limiting your charges to 30 percent or less of a card's limit.

Step 5: Set up Automatic Payments

Approximately 35% of your credit score, the most important factor in credit worthiness, is your ability to pay bills on time. Utilize Credit Union ONE’s Online Banking or CUONE Mobile app to set up recurring payments for bills that are the same each month to make sure those are always paid on time – especially your credit cards and loans. Use Online Bill Pay to set up a payment each month for at least the minimum balance to ensure payments are made on time.

Be Careful with New Credit

Another factor that makes up your credit score is any new credit. Be cautious the next time a retailer offers you 10 percent off and double points if you open a store credit card. If you need a new line of credit, don’t jump at the first appealing offer; compare rates, fees and options.

Talk to Credit Counselors if You’re in Trouble

Using a legitimate, non-profit credit counseling agency can help you manage your debt and won’t hurt your credit score. For more information on debt management, contact the National Foundation for Consumer Credit.

Fixing Bad Credit is Worth The Effort

Improving your credit score takes time, but with some effort and planning, it can help you qualify for a mortgage or get a lower interest rate on your credit card.Want to talk to someone in person about your credit? Visit any of our Michigan branches today.

Related resources

How do I check my balance? 

You can find this information by logging in to Online Banking, Mobile Banking, or using 24-Hour Telephone Banking. Also, you can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.

How do I view transaction information?

You can find this information by logging in to Online Banking, Mobile Banking, or using 24-Hour Telephone Banking.

How do I make a loan payment? 

Make a payment via phone; use the Make a Payment feature; transfer money through Online Banking; or use ACH autopay.

Do you notarize? 

Credit Union ONE offers Notary services for members and non-members at no charge. Please visit any of our branch locations for this service. A notary public is an officer commissioned by the Michigan Secretary of State to serve as an unbiased and impartial witness. The most common function of the notary is to prevent fraud by attesting to the identity of a person signing a document. Notarization on a document certifies that the person whose signature is entered on the document personally appeared before the notary, established his or her identity, and personally signed the document in the presence of the notary.

Do you offer student loans? 

Credit Union ONE partnered with Student Choice to process student loans and we can help you apply for loans and find additional information online. 

What is a Smart Boost Credit Builder loan?

Find out all you need to know about the Credit Builder loan online.

What is the difference between a Freedom ONE and Freedom Access personal loan?

Freedom ONE is a closed-end term loan. Freedom Access is an open-end line of credit. 
 

What are your current loan rates? 

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

What do I owe on my loan?

You can find this information by logging in to Online Banking, Mobile Banking, or using 24-Hour Telephone Banking. Also, you can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.

How do I get a document notarized?

Credit Union ONE offers Notary services for members and non-members at no charge. Please visit any of our branch locations for this service. A notary public is an officer commissioned by the Michigan Secretary of State to serve as an unbiased and impartial witness. The most common function of the notary is to prevent fraud by attesting to the identity of a person signing a document. Notarization on a document certifies that the person whose signature is entered on the document personally appeared before the notary, established his or her identity, and personally signed the document in the presence of the notary.

What is Student Choice?

Credit Union ONE partnered with Student Choice to process student loans and we can help you apply for loans and find additional information online. 

How do I apply for a Smart Boost Credit Builder Loan?

Find out all you need to know about the Credit Builder loan online.

What is the difference between an open ended and closed ended loan? 

Freedom ONE is a closed-end term loan. Freedom Access is an open-end line of credit. 
 

Auto loan rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

What is the payoff on my loan?

You can find this information by logging in to Online Banking, Mobile Banking, or using 24-Hour Telephone Banking. Also, you can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.

How do I apply for a student loan? 

Credit Union ONE partnered with Student Choice to process student loans and we can help you apply for loans and find additional information online. 

How do I build credit? 

Find out all you need to know about the Credit Builder loan online.

What is the difference between a loan and a line of credit? 

Freedom ONE is a closed-end term loan. Freedom Access is an open-end line of credit. 
 

Personal loan rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

How do I check my loan status?

Check your status by logging in to Online Banking; setting up alerts in Online Banking; accessing Telephone Banking or Mobile Banking. Also, you can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.

How do I use your Skip-A-Pay feature?
 

Members can skip a payment on qualified loans in good standing twice every 12 months for a $30 fee per occurrence. Payments cannot be skipped in consecutive months.  The loan must be open a minimum of 121 days to be eligible. Read more about Skip-A-Pay.

What is the difference between a secured loan and an unsecured loan?
 

A car loan and mortgage are the most common types of secured loan. An unsecured loan is not protected by any collateral. If you default on the loan, the lender can't automatically take your property. The most common types of unsecured loan are credit cards, student loans, and personal loans.

RV loan rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

How do I payoff my loan? 

Loan payoff amounts for same-day payoff can be obtained in Online Banking by clicking on the Loan Payment tab and from that menu selecting Loan Payoff Amount. You also can call the Member Contact Center or visit a branch. Dealers can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 for payoff amounts. Payoffs can be mailed to Credit Union ONE, 400 E Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220. Loan payoffs can be also be processed at a Credit Union ONE branch.

Boat loan rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

How do I complete the loan payoff process? 

Loan payoff amounts for same-day payoff can be obtained in Online Banking by clicking on the Loan Payment tab and from that menu selecting Loan Payoff Amount. You also can call the Member Contact Center or visit a branch. Dealers can call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 for payoff amounts. Payoffs can be mailed to Credit Union ONE, 400 E Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220. Loan payoffs can be also be processed at a Credit Union ONE branch.

Motorcycle loan rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

Home equity loan/line of credit rates?

Our Rates page provides the most updated rates we're offering. 

How do I apply for a (personal, auto, home equity) loan? 

Apply online, in person at any Credit Union ONE Branch or call 800-451-4292.

There is a deduction for an insurance premium on my account that is not mine?

Members can submit a dispute request for an ACH/ Auto Pay that they did not authorize by contacting Credit Union ONE at 800-451-4292 or visiting any Credit Union ONE branch. If doing this in person, you need to report the activity with the proper form attached with the transaction information. This form is then sent to Accounting Department for processing.

How does Skip-a-Pay work?
 

Our Skip-a-Pay page provides all the details about this service.

How do I pay off my loan? 

Loan payoff amounts for same day payoff can be obtained in Online Banking by clicking on the Loan Payment tab and from that menu selecting Loan Payoff Amount. Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.  Payoffs can be mailed to Credit Union ONE, 400 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220. 

How can I make a payment to a Credit Union ONE loan?
 

You can make payments to your Credit Union ONE loan through the Online Banking, Mobile Banking, and Telephone Banking systems. You may also use the "Make A Payment" service that allows you to make one-time ACH or debit/credit card payment to your Credit Union ONE loan.

How do I complete the loan payoff process? 

Loan payoff amounts for same day payoff can be obtained in Online Banking by clicking on the Loan Payment tab and from that menu selecting Loan Payoff Amount. Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch.  Payoffs can be mailed to Credit Union ONE, 400 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, MI 48220. 

Why is my loan past due?

Visit a branch or call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 to get all the details you need.

How will this affect my credit report? 

Visit a branch or call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 to get all the details you need.

I didn't make my payment because I did not have a coupon?

Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch. There is a $5.00 fee for a set of 36 coupons.

How can I get more loan coupons?

Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit a branch. There is a $5.00 fee for a set of 36 coupons.

How do I close a loan with Credit Union ONE?

Loan closing can be done at any Credit Union ONE branch. Some loans can also be closed electronically.

Can I close a loan online? 

Loan closing can be done at any Credit Union ONE branch. Some loans can also be closed electronically.

Where do I find information on my loan title?

Michigan is not a title holding state. Titles that are issued in the state of Michigan will be mailed to you once the Credit Union ONE lien is placed on it. If  a vehicle is titled out of state and that state is a title holding state, then the members title will be held at Credit Union ONE until the loan is paid in full.

Why is my loan past due?

Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch. If many cases, you might have sent in a loan payment but it was short a few cents. Your loan will become past due if the difference is not made up before the next due date and a late fee will be assessed. 

I made my payment and I was charged a late fee. Why?

Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch. If many cases, you might have sent in a loan payment but it was short a few cents. Your loan will become past due if the difference is not made up before the next due date and a late fee will be assessed. 

What is the interest rate on my loan?

Our current interest rates are quoted using the APY. Credit Union ONE does not refinance our own loans for a lower interest rate. Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch for more information.

Can I get a lower interest rate?

Our current interest rates are quoted using the APY. Credit Union ONE does not refinance our own loans for a lower interest rate. Call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch for more information.

Where can I find my loan guarantee letter? 

Please visit a branch location of call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 for more information.

How can I obtain a letter of guarantee?

Please visit a branch location of call the Member Contact Center at 800-451-4292 for more information.

Can I change the due date on my loan?

Contact Credit Union ONE at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch for assistance.

How do I change the due date on my loan?

Contact Credit Union ONE at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch for assistance.

I can't make the payment by the due date, what can I do?

Contact Credit Union ONE at 800-451-4292 or visit any Credit Union ONE branch for assistance.

I am having a problem making my payments?

The Member Contact Center Loan Servicing Agents can assist members with changing the due date on their loan that may better for their budget. Credit Union ONE does not refinance our own loans however we can look into lowering the interest rate on the loan if the member qualifies. If members are facing financial difficulties, we can assist with starting the Loan Modification process.

How can I change the due date of my loan payments?

The Member Contact Center Loan Servicing Agents can assist members with changing the due date on their loan that may better for their budget. Credit Union ONE does not refinance our own loans however we can look into lowering the interest rate on the loan if the member qualifies. If members are facing financial difficulties, we can assist with starting the Loan Modification process.

Can I refinance my loan for a lesser interest rate?

The Member Contact Center Loan Servicing Agents can assist members with changing the due date on their loan that may better for their budget. Credit Union ONE does not refinance our own loans however we can look into lowering the interest rate on the loan if the member qualifies. If members are facing financial difficulties, we can assist with starting the Loan Modification process.

Can I apply for a loan online? 
 

You can apply for a variety of secured and unsecured loans online. You can also apply at any of our branch locations or by calling us at (800) 451-4292.

How can I make a loan payment online?

You can make payments to your Credit Union ONE loans through Online Banking. Just click the Pay Bills link once you have logged in and follow the instructions.

Give your credit a boost with this special loan product.