Pay off those debts with the highest interest rate first with any extra cash, a strategy called avalanching. You'll pay the amounts needed to keep your current accounts current and use your excess cash flow to pay down past due accounts one by one in the order of the highest interest rate to the lowest. This will save money in the longest run and is the fastest way to reduce your debts.


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The moment you’ve cleared a debt, the idea is to get it off your report. However, if you’ve handled a debt well and been prompt with clearing your dues, it reflects well on your report and hence, your credit score. So, don’t close accounts where you have a good repayment account. The bad debts anyway get written off from your account in a few years’ time.
Of these five components, two make up 65% of your credit score – your payment history and debt vs. credit available. As you might guess, your payment history is based on how well you’ve handled credit – that is have you made all of your payments and on time. Debt vs. credit available, which makes up 30% of your credit score is really the amount of debt you have available versus the amount you’ve used. This is called your debt-to-credit-available ratio. Say that you add up all of your available credit (your total limits) and got $10,000 but had total debts of $8500. In this case your debt-to-credit-available ratio would be 85%, which would be too high and would make you look very risky to any new lenders. So a quick way to boost your score is to pay down your debts, which would immediately improve your debt-to-credit-available ratio.
It’s important to be careful with this step, though. If you apply for too many loans, it can damage your score. Instead, you need to plan your credit applications carefully. Start with a small installment loan. You might be able to get a small, low-balance installment loan from your bank. It might also be possible (if you are looking for a car) to get an inexpensive car from a dealer that specializes in customers with poor credit. Your small loan will probably have a relatively high interest rate, so plan to borrow a small amount, and keep the loan term short.
One of the things that determines your score is how many of your credit cards have balances. If you are spending varied amounts on different cards, it doesn’t reflect well in your report. So, the best thing to do is to do away with all the cards with small balances and pay them off. Just keep one or two cards that you use for all your day-to-day needs.
Your payment history accounts for about 35% of your credit score, and a couple of missed payments can really hurt your score. Most consumers don't know you can request creditors stop reporting missed payments to ratings agencies if you have an otherwise clean record. This is called a good-will adjustment. Write a letter to your bank or card issuer emphasizing your past good payment history and asking politely to stop reporting the missed payments. Of course, this trick only works if you have a pretty clean record already, but you can remove those few blemishes that holding back your credit score.
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Know where you are at financially. Check your credit report to see exactly where you need to improve. Do you have a lot of missed or late payments? Is your debt utilization too high? These clues can help you figure out what items to tackle first. You are entitled to a free report from each of the credit bureaus one a year (so, three total). You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com (the official site run by the three credit bureaus) for your free reports. You can also order reports directly from each of the three bureaus:

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Beware of scams that tell you to create a new credit file. Some disreputable credit repair agencies will suggest inventing a new credit identity by using an Employer Identification Number rather than your Social Security Number. This is illegal! Besides the fact that it is considered to be credit fraud, this action does not mean that your “real” report no longer exists. Any lender who asks for your Social Security Number will still find this information.
Perhaps our favorite secured card, Discover it® Secured, has numerous benefits for those looking to rebound from a bad credit score. There is a $200 minimum security deposit that will become your line of credit, which is typical of secured credit cards. Your deposit is equal to your credit line, with a maximum deposit of $2,500. Additional perks include a rewards program (very rare for secured cards) that offers 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
But make no mistake, this doesn’t do any of work for you. You still need to identify potential errors in your reports. You enter them into the software and then tell it when you file a dispute (in other words, the software isn’t connected to the online dispute portals for the credit bureaus). So, this is basically a high-tech way to track progress.

“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.”
Develop the good financial habits of living within your means, setting aside money in your emergency fund, and saving for the future. That way, you’ll be less inclined to skip payments, and you’ll have something to fall back on if you run into financial trouble. Keep with the good habits you formed while rebuilding your credit, and it will be easier to maintain your new, better credit history.
A report by FICO® showed that younger consumers can earn high credit scores with excellent credit behavior. 93% of consumers with credit scores between 750 and 799 who were under age 29 never had a late payment on their credit report. In contrast, 57% of the total population had at least one delinquency. This good credit group also used less of their available credit. They had an average revolving credit utilization ratio of 6%. The nation as a whole had a utilization ratio of 15%.39

Of course, paying down your debts can be easier said than done. In fact, if you could really pay down $3000 or $4000 of debts quickly, you probably wouldn’t be having a problem with debt in the first place. But there is an alternative. You could contact your creditors and ask them to raise your credit limits. Of course, if you had a debt-to-credit-available ratio of 85%, you might have a hard time convincing them to raise your limits. Some will and some won’t. But what you could do and here comes the sneaky, little trick is to get what’s called a sub-prime merchandise card tied to a line of credit that would allow you to buy merchandise from a single wholesale distributor. The thing is that everyone who applies for one of these cards is automatically approved. The distributor becomes the one who is supplying the financing because it wants your business. Of course, you shouldn’t get the card just so you could start racking up more debt. What you want is a new line of credit that the distributor will report to the credit-reporting bureaus.


Despite the rosy national picture, we see regional and age-based disparities. A minority of Southerners still rank below prime credit. In contrast, credit scores in the upper Midwest rank well above the national average. Younger consumers struggle with their credit, but boomers and the Silent Generation secured scores well above the national average.


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.
“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.”

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If you are like many consumers and don’t know your credit score, there are several free places you can find it. The Discover Card is one of several credit card sources that offer free credit scores. Discover provides your FICO score, the one used by 90% of businesses that do lending. Most other credit cards like Capital One and Chase give you a Vantage Score, which is similar, but not identical. Same goes for online sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame and Quizzle.
Be persistent. You won't see your credit score dramatically change overnight. Repairing your credit actually means repairing your credit history. The score then reflects this.[15] The best things you can do now, are pay your bills on time and pay down debt. Even then, it will probably take at least 30 days before these actions impact your credit.[16]
Besides imposing no annual fee, the card has other perks, like rewarding me with a $20 statement credit when I reported a good GPA (up to 5 consecutive years), letting me earn 5 percent cash back on purchases in rotating categories, and matching the cash-back bonus I earned over the first 12 months with my account. For me, it was a great starter card, but there are plenty of other options out there.
Credit bureaus have to investigate the items you question within 30 days, unless they reasonably determine that your dispute is frivolous. The credit bureau will forward all the relevant information you gave it about the error to the business that reported the information. After the business is notified, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit bureau.
Even if the debt has passed the SOL in your state for suit (variable by state) and even the federal SOL for reporting (roughly 7 years from when the debt discharged) a collector may still pursue you for this money if you owe it. They will just never be able to collect it or report it if you don't allow them to, although they will certainly try and hope you are ignorant enough of the law that they get money from you.
Now that you have a secured credit card and are on your way to improving your payment history, you can try to obtain other loans. Part of your credit score is based on the types of account you have. There are two main types of account: rotating and installment. A rotating credit account is like a credit card or a home equity line of credit, where you have an available limit and you free up more funds as you pay down the loan. An installment loan has a set term and a set payment. Auto loans and mortgages are installment loans.
Over the next decade, credit reporting agencies went from localized companies to the nationwide credit reporting agencies we know today. Almost all lenders and creditors go through the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to get consumer credit reports. That’s good for consumers because it means they only need to worry about three credit reports. As long as you review those three reports regularly and make sure they’re error-free, you can present the best possible credit profile when someone checks your credit.
Your credit score is your financial reputation. It’s used by lending agencies, landlords, insurance agents—even potential employers—to help determine their level of risk in taking you on. It will also determine the rates you pay on loans, including mortgage loans. Understanding what goes into a credit score can be a powerful tool to help you get it in the range you desire and keep it there.
So if you want -- and I'm not recommending this; I'm just saying it's a strategy you might decide to use -- you can dispute information that you think is accurate in hopes that the creditor will not respond. (This is the strategy many credit repair firms use to  try to improve their clients' scores.) If the creditor doesn't respond, the entry will get removed.
When the bureaus and data furnishers receive the dispute and supporting information, they will then work with the credit repair company to determine if the item should be removed from your credit report. The major law dictating your rights when it comes to credit reporting is the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but it isn’t the only law on your side when it comes to credit repair.
There are a lot of myths out there about credit scoring – hopefully we can help you understand FICO scoring, so you can take action to build your score. There are five major components FICO uses to determine a credit score. Fortunately, understanding the secret sauce can help you build a strong score and healthy credit report. Both a 700+ score and healthy credit report will help keep the rest of your financial life cheaper by enabling you to get lower interest rates on loans and approved for top-tier financial products.

Have you had one or more financial misfortunes over the past several years and now have a less than ideal credit score? If so, you're certainly not alone. Credit scores have been one of the biggest victims of the financial crisis and the recession. Unfortunately, that number can determine not only whether you can get credit and what interest rates you'll pay but they can also affect your insurance premiums and even your ability to get a job.


Credit scoring companies analyze consumer credit reports. They glean data from the reports and create algorithms that determine consumer borrowing risk. A credit score is a number that represents the risk profile of a borrower. Credit scores influence a bank’s decisions to lend money to consumers. People with high credit scores will find the most attractive borrowing rates because that signals to lenders that they are less risky. Those with low credit scores will struggle to find credit at all.
An unsecured credit card carries more positive weight, but you might not qualify for an unsecured card right now. If this is the case, begin using a secured credit card. Double-check to ensure that the card is truly a credit card. Prepaid debit cards look similar, but they are not the same thing, and your payment history isn’t reported to the credit bureaus. Ask the secured card issuer if your payments will be reported, and only use a card that will report to bureaus.

If your credit card balances every month are more than 30% of your credit limits, your score is suffering, even if you’re paying off your balances in full every month by the payment due date. That’s because your statement balance is most likely what’s being reported to the credit bureaus. So, keep an eye on those balances, and consider pre-paying some of the balance if you know you’ll be above that 30% mark this month.
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Thanks for the helpful information. Being a loan officer, would you please be able to help guide me in the right direction of obtaining a home equity loan or refi on my paid mortgage? My home has been paid off for years now, and I would like to rent it to elderly HUD housing in my community. I need to make some modifications to be able to comply with HUD standards plus some other repairs. However, my credit file is very thin, and I was hoping to be able to use the home as colateral. Is this possible? Any feedback would be a blessing. Thanks so much for your time.
A quick Google search yielded this terms and conditions sheet, which may be slightly different than the one you’d receive if you applied for a card. According to the one we found, Credit One charges an annual membership fee from $0 to $99. Credit line minimums are between $300 and $500. So you could be paying $99 for a $300 credit limit. APR is relatively standard, but on the high side, with variable 19.15% to 25.24%. Given the high annual fees, we recommend saving your money and using a secured card with no annual fee to begin rebuilding your credit score.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, 1 in 5 Americans have at least 1 error on their credit report, and 1 in 20 have a critical error that leads banks, card issuers and lenders to overcharge them on mortgages, car loans and credit cards. The first step to fixing errors on your credit report is to find them by ordering a free copy of your report. The next step is to dispute the errors with the 3 major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The FTC offers a sample dispute letter you can use, and reporting agencies have dispute forms online. Be sure to state your case clearly and include documentation to support your position.
It is worth knowing that it takes more time to repair a bad credit score than it does to build a good one. Mistakes penalize your credit score and end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars in higher interest rates when borrowing. A poor credit score also can be a roadblock to renting an apartment, setting up utilities, and maybe even getting a job!
Full disclosure: credit repair companies don’t do anything that you can’t do on your own. But they usually do it better than what you can do on your own. Legitimate credit repair companies have state-licensed attorneys and experience making disputes. They know how to make disputes to get results. So, working with a professional repair service often means more mistakes corrected and a bigger boost to your credit score.

Risks: Overall, a student card can be a great asset for your teen to have in college, but there are a few risks to beware of. If your teen overspends so much that they max out their credit limit, they risk harming their utilization rate — which is the amount of credit they use divided by their total credit limit. For example, if your teen has a $500 credit limit and uses $400, their utilization rate would be 80% ($400/$500). That’s very high, and we recommend keeping utilization below 30%.

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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*Clients who are able to stay with the program and get all their debt settled realize approximate savings of 50% before fees, or 30% including our fees, over 24 to 48 months. All claims are based on enrolled debts. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all clients complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Estimates based on prior results, which will vary based on specific circumstances. We do not guarantee that your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time. We do not assume consumer debt, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Not available in all states. Please contact a tax professional to discuss tax consequences of settlement. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for more information on bankruptcy. Depending on your state, we may be available to recommend a local tax professional and/or bankruptcy attorney. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment, including potential adverse impact on credit rating.

The Affinity Secured Visa® Credit Card requires cardholders to join the Affinity FCU. You may qualify through participating organizations, but if you don’t, anyone can join the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education by making a $5 donation when you fill out your online application. This card has an 12.35% Variable APR, which is one of the lowest rates available for a no annual fee secured card and is nearly half the amount major issuers charge. This is a good rate if you may carry a balance — but try to pay each statement in full.
Offer to put an agreement in writing stating how much you can spend and how you will get your share of the bill to the cardholder. Then “do your part and use the card responsibly,” says Beverly Harzog, author of Confessions of a Credit Junkie. In other words, don’t buy more than you can afford and don’t leave your co-signer hanging when the bill is due. The point is to learn to use credit responsibly.

On the other hand, credit repair services are effective only to the extent that they have a good working relationship with lenders, credit card companies, and other debt collection agencies. But be warned, not all lenders work with credit repair companies. Before you spend money on a credit repair company, make sure that your lenders will negotiate and work with them on your behalf. If not, you'll need to know how to work directly with the lender yourself.

Then look at this written guide on how to repair your credit and follow the tips outlined. You need the one book that doesn’t fool around or put you on the edge of risk with your credit, Hidden Credit Repair Secrets: 3rd EditionHidden Credit Repair Secrets: That can fix your credit in 30 days (Volume 3) offers tips, and easy instructions you can follow to repair your credit yourself.
When the investigation is complete, the credit reporting company must give you the results in writing, too, and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. If an item is changed or deleted, the credit reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it’s accurate and complete. The credit reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider. If you ask, the credit reporting company must send notices of any correction to anyone who got your report in the past six months. You also can ask that a corrected copy of your report be sent to anyone who got a copy during the past two years for employment purposes.
Once you have your credit reports, read through them completely. If you have a long credit history, your credit reports might be several pages long. Try not to get overwhelmed by all the information you're reading. It's a lot to digest, especially if you're checking your credit report for the first time. Take your time and review your credit report over several days if you need to.
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