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So, your credit score dropped below 700. It happens. And it definitely doesn’t mean you’ll never get a loan or be able to open an in-store credit card again. These five tactics will help boost your score back to its original standing…and fast.

RELATED: Life is Good When You’re Free of Credit Card Debt

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First, Do a Soft Pull to Find Out Your Credit Score

Real talk: If you don’t know your actual number, it’s pretty impossible to grasp all the ways you can improve it. Rip off the Band-Aid and do a soft pull (a background check of your credit report that won’t impact your score) to find out exactly where you stand. Websites like Credit Karma will do it for free in about ten minutes (or less).

RELATED: 4 Free Websites You Can Use to Quickly Generate Your Credit Score

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Next, Dispute Any Mistakes

Once you generate your score, you’ll be able to see a list of all the factors and reasons behind it at a glance. Scan the list and make sure all the debts—and accounts—make sense. For example: Maybe there’s a credit card you didn’t open or a bill from 2015 that you definitely paid. Errors happen. If you see info that’s incorrect, report it. (In most cases, you can do this right from the site.)

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Reduce Your Credit Card Utilization

Yep, your overall balance—and the length of time you’ve had it—is one of the biggest strikes against your score. Ideally, you’re only utilizing 30 percent (or less) of your available credit. But say you have a card with a $5,000 limit and you have a balance of $3,500. Even if you never miss a monthly payment, your score will get a ding based on the percentage of available credit you’re using. (To tackle this, you might want to consider the snowball approach to whittle your debt.)

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Or Make Payments Twice a Month

Maybe you use your credit card for everything. (Gotta get the points, right?) But given that creditors only report balances to credit bureaus once a month, if you’re maxing out your card, it may appear like you’re overusing your credit—even if you pay it off in full. A better plan: Charge everything and get the points, but set a Google calendar reminder to make two payments a month—one mid-month and another when the rest of the balance is due. (Like we said, credit utilization is a biggie when it comes to your score.)

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Negotiate Your Debt

If you missed a few payments and now have late fees (or account collections) seriously impacting your score, there is one more option. Hop on the phone with your creditors and see if there’s anything you can do to settle up. For example: Maybe they’ll clear any notes on your report if you can pay the balance in full that minute. Just be sure you get the deal you negotiate in writing.

RELATED: The Only 3 Times to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

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