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African Americans Increase Credit Score

African Americans Here's How To Increase Your FICO Score

 Editor's Note: Although this article is written particularly for African Americans, the tips and method to increase your FICO score can really be used by anyone who currently have poor or no credit history.



Having good credit is important in our society. Your FICO score tells employers, landlords, and lenders how responsible you are with paying bills and paying back money you've borrowed. According to an Urban Institute survey 2017 only 21% of African Americans had a credit score above 700. In 2020 72% of African Americans did not have a credit card and 54% of African Americans also reported having no credit or fair/poor credit. As an African American I who had a credit score in the mid-to-low 500 range I want to share with you how I increased my FICO score to 725.


I Increased My FICO Score From Low 500s to 725

How Increased My FICO Credit Score From 500 to 728

I increased my FICO score from the low 500s to 640. Then with intention and focus, I increased my score from 640 to 725 within two months, which officially placed me in the "Good Credit" range. I had a 9-5 job as a security guard with in NYC. At the time, I only had a Serve prepaid card because I couldn't open a bank account due to past mistakes. Still, I wanted to improve my credit score, so I searched Google for solutions. That's when I came across Chime, a debit card tied to Stride bank. I signed up, received my debit card, and funded it. After a short time later, I was offered the Chime Credit Builder card, also known as Chime Credit Card (a secured credit card). Chime Credit Builder helps users build credit by reporting their payment history to all three major credit bureaus. Naturally, I signed up for the Chime Credit Builder card. I used my Chime Credit Builder card to subscribe to Google's G Suite Email service ($6) and Canva ($13). 


For almost a year and a half, the above two subscriptions were the only charges on my Chime Credit Builder card and occasionally groceries. I hadn't really paid attention to my FICO score until I decided to poke around in the r/personalfinance subreddit, where some users were discussing how to increase their credit scores. That's when I decided to check my FICO score and saw that I was no longer in the low 500s but now had a score of 640. After learning some tips from the subreddit and doing some research on my own, I discovered that when you have more than one credit card, your credit score gets a boost because its more data for Experian to analyze. So I applied for a no-thrills Capital One credit card (not a secured credit card). Because Capital One did a 'hard pull' credit check, my FICO credit score immediately decreased by 20 points. I realized the credit check was necessary because Capital One needs to review my score to determine my eligibility. I was approved and the credit card was shipped to my home address within seven business days. Two months later, withe some usage on the Capitol One credit card, my FICO credit score jumped to 725.


Step-By-Step Method To Building Your FICO Credit Score


725 FICO Score

The above image is a screenshot of my FICO score taken on April 24th, 2022

  1. Apply - Apply For Chime Debit Card.
  2. Direct Deposit - When I first signed up for the Chime debit card, I had to fund my card with a direct deposit payment for over $200, to be eligible for the Chime Credit Builder Card. I'm not sure if the rules are still the same but be ready to make that deposit.
  3. Wait For Eligibility - Enjoy using your Chime debit card and wait until you receive a notice that you are eligible for the Chime Credit Builder Card. Chime debit card is also great because there are no monthly fees.
  4. Apply For Credit Builder - Once you receive a notification that you are eligible for Chime Credit Builder Card, apply immediately. If it's been longer than six months, then reach out to Chime customer service and request to get the Chime Credit Builder Card. After applying for the card, you will receive your card in the mail within seven business days.
  5. Move Money - Once you have your Chime Credit Builder Card, move money from your Chime debit or savings account and transfer it to your Chime Credit Builder Card. You can transfer money between all three accounts within the Chime app available for free on Itunes and Google Play Store.
  6. Subscribe - Now that you have funds on your Chime Credit Builder card subscribe to a service you enjoy. If you are already subscribed to a service like, for example Netflix, HBOMax, or Amazon Prime etc, simply change your billing information on those platforms and add your Chime Credit Builder card as the new payment method. My subscriptions were Gsuite business email and Canva (a creative graphic designer platform).
  7. Refill & Forget - Once you've reached this step, you are well on your way to building your credit. All that's required now is to keep enough money on your Chime Credit Builder Card and refill it when it gets low so that you can always pay for your subscriptions without issue. Other than that, you shouldn't focus on it at least for a year. Credit history and on-time payment is the major data that reflects your credit score. With Chime, your payments are guaranteed to be paid on-time. You'll need at least a year or two to build up historical data.
  8. Apply For Another Credit Card - If your credit score has increased into the 640 - 699 range (fair credit), apply for a credit card outside of Chime. I would suggest that you type your credit score number into Google along with the words "credit cards." For example, let's say I have a 660 FICO credit score. I would search "660 credit cards". You will come across very reliable websites such as MoneyUnder30, WalletHub, Nerdwallet, etc., that will suggest credit cards you are eligible for based on your FICO score. Once you apply for a credit card, just know that your credit score will drop. Do not worry about it, though. It happens every time you apply for a new credit card, and it's only a temporary drop. After a couple of months, your credit score will increase.



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