Be punished for missed payments: Not all late payments are created equally. If you are fewer than 30 days late, your missed payment will likely not be reported to the bureau (although you still will be subject to late fees and potential risk-based re-pricing, which can be very expensive). Once you are 30 days late, you will be reported to the credit bureau. The longer you go without paying, the bigger the impact on your score, ie: 60 days late is worse than 30 days late. A single missed payment (of 30 days or more) can still have a big impact on your score. It can take anywhere from 60 to 110 points off your score.
None of the other banks approved my applications, and my score went down from the very beginning due to the number of “hard inquiries” against my report. Hard inquiries occur when lenders check your credit report before they make lending decisions, and having too many inquiries in a short period of time can result in several dings to your credit score.
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Set a budget and stick to it. A budget is simply a plan to direct parts of your income to specific expenses. Budgets can be simple or detailed. Determine how much you can comfortably set aside for savings and how much you can reasonably afford to pay of your debts. Try to lower your fixed expenses as much as possible so you can put more money towards fixing your credit.
Each of the nationwide credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months if you ask for it. Go to annualcreditreport.com, call 1-877-322-8228. Otherwise, a credit bureau may charge you a reasonable amount for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.
SkyBlue is the most affordable and reliable credit repair option that I looked at. SkyBlue has streamlined their credit repair service to offer you the basics of credit repair for only $59/month and just a $59 initial payment, which is far and above cheaper than all of the other credit repair services. Here is a more detailed breakdown of the cost. They also have an “A+” rating from the BBB, which is the best score I’ve seen from a credit repair company.
You can order free reports from each of the three credit bureaus from annualcreditreport.com at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year. Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports. Because each credit bureau gets its information from different sources, the information in your report from one credit bureau may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two credit bureaus.
Credit utilization is the second most important factor in credit score calculations – it’s 30% of your score. It measures the amount of debt you currently hold relative to your total available credit limit. So, if you have $500 in balances and a $5,000 total credit limit, your utilization ratio is 10%. Any ratio higher than 10% starts to drag down your score. That means, maintaining zero balances overall is good for your credit. It also allows you to use credit cards without incurring any interest charges!
"The long-term benefit to your utilization can far outweigh any short-term loss of points," said Barry Paperno, a four-decade veteran of the credit industry. Paperno cautioned that you should only do this if you don't anticipate needing to apply for a car, home or personal loan in the next six to 12 months. Otherwise, those extra inquiries could hurt you.
“Credit repair leverages your legal right to three standards: Credit reports must be 100% accurate, entirely fair, and fully substantiated,” Padawer said. “Too many lesser credit repair companies skip over those last two standards — which involve communicating with your creditors — in favor of depending upon simple credit bureau disputes by themselves.”
Many people, however, don’t have the time or don’t understand how to make their case, so they look into hiring a credit repair company to dispute errors on their behalf. These companies can charge a fee for their legwork (more on how that works in a minute), but there are times when the extra help can certainly be welcome. (Say you have multiple errors across credit reports or you’ve been the victim of widespread identity theft.)
After you’ve resolved the negative items on your credit report, work on getting positive information added. Just like late payments severely hurt your credit score, timely payments help your score. If you have some credit cards and loans being reported on time, good. Continue to keep those balances at a reasonable level and make your payments on time.
If you find mistakes on your credit report, like errors regarding your payment histories, or even mistakes in the spelling of your name and incorrect social security numbers, contact the credit bureaus to correct them. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees your right to dispute listings in your credit report, free of charge. All of the major credit bureaus have online systems in which to dispute errors on your credit report. By law, the credit bureaus have 30 days to investigate and correct the errors.