For example, assume you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit. It’s a rewards card, so you use it for everything. In fact, every month, you hit your limit. The statement arrives, you owe $1,000, and you send in a check to pay it off. But the credit card company is likely reporting the statement balance each month. So, it looks like you have a $1,000 limit and a $1,000 balance. That’s a 100 percent credit utilization rate.
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The cost varies based which path you take through the credit repair process. If you do it yourself, you can repair your credit for free. Professional credit repair services tend to have setup fees plus monthly administration fees. The setup fee is typically around $15-20 to obtain your credit reports and review them. Then you pay a monthly fee while they make disputes on your behalf. This fee is generally around $80-$120 per month. Credit repair software generally has a one-time cost that ranges from $30-$399.
Age of credit matters to your credit report. Interest rates matter to your bank account. If you have $100 a month to put toward paying down balances (over and above the required monthly payments, of course), focus on paying off high interest accounts. Then prioritize those by the age of the account. Pay off the newest ones first; that way you'll increase the average length of credit, which should help your score, but you'll also be able to more quickly avoid paying relatively high interest.
However, there is a big myth that you have to borrow money and pay interest to get a good score. That is completely false! So long as you use your credit card (it can even be a small $1 charge) and then pay that statement balance in full, your score will benefit. You do not need to pay interest on a credit card to improve your score. Remember: your goal is to have as much positive information as possible, with very little negative information. That means you should be as focused on adding positive information to your credit report as you are at avoiding negative information.
Opening several credit accounts in a short amount of time can appear risky to lenders and negatively impact your credit score. Before you take out a loan or open a new credit card account, consider the effects it could have on your credit scores. Know too, that when you're buying a car or looking around for the best mortgage rates, your inquiries may be grouped and counted as only one inquiry for the purpose of adding information to your credit report. In many commonly-used scoring models, recent inquiries have greater effect than older inquiries, and they only appear on your credit report or a maximum of 25 months.
Credit card debt tends to be more damaging to credit scores than a personal loan, which is considered installment debt. The credit utilization ratio (see previous section) does not take installment debt into account. This strategy would result in zero dollars of credit card debt on the borrower’s credit report, which could boost their score by 100 points or more, says Ulzheimer.
Lenders and others usually use your credit report along with additional finance factors to make decisions about the risks they face in lending to you. Having negative information on your credit report or a low credit score could suggest to lenders that you are less likely to pay back your debt as agreed. As a result, they may deny you a loan or charge you higher rates and fees.
Originally established in 1997, CreditRepair.com is one of the most well-rounded services in the industry with over 1.5 million negative items removed from the credit reports of their customers. In addition to disputing negative items on your credit report, they also provide 24/7 credit monitoring, a personalized online dashboard, and a credit score tracker. CreditRepair.com is a little more pricey than other credit repair companies, but the value of their service is well worth the price in our opinion.
Once that is done, dispute letters have to be drafted and documentation needs to be gathered before you submit your disputes to the credit bureau(s). The time required for this step varies, depending on the nature of your disputes and how organized you’ve been about keeping financial records. This part of the process can take anywhere from a few hours if you’re organized to a few days if you need to hunt down statements and documentation that proves your case.
A reputable credit counseling service can help. A good credit counselor will not just negotiate payment plans and take your money. Quality credit counseling services are often non-profit and charge little or no fee for their services. They will offer, and in some cases require, that you complete budget training and money management courses as part of their programs.
A credit score ranges from 300 to 850, with the highest numbers reflecting the best risk. If your score is below 600, you will have a hard time finding lenders and loan products for which you qualify. If you have a 720 score and above, you will generally have access to the best loans and interest rates available. The world of credit scoring is a mysterious one: the formulas are a closely guarded secret and have never been made public. If you don’t have a good credit score right now, you may feel helpless, not knowing what can be done to turn this situation around. There are actually a lot of things that you can do that just require a little discipline. We offer you a few tips.