Like credit builder loans, secured credit cards are an easy way to build or rebuild credit history. The application process is the same, but secured credit cards require a deposit between $50 and $300 into a separate account. The bank then issues a line of credit that is typically equal to the deposit, allowing you to build a credit history without putting the lender at risk.
By taking a two pronged approach to improving your credit through ongoing management of your credit and through fixing the errors in your credit reports, many people have seen dramatic results in a relatively short period of time. If you simply sit back and wait for your credit score to improve, it may be a number of years before you see a significant shift, but by proactively working to fix your credit, you may see noticeable improvement in your credit score in only a matter of months.
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There shouldn’t be any reason NOT to increase your limits if you have been in good standing for the past six months to a year. However, being denied a limit increase is a great way to find out about a possible problem before it snowballs into a headache. If you’re denied a limit increase, always find out why and correct the issue as soon as possible.
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It’s easy to check your credit reports from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. You’re entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three of your credit reports under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. These free credit reports can be accessed via AnnualCreditReport.com, the government-mandated site run by the major bureaus. (You can also view a free credit report snapshot on Credit.com.)
Get a secured bank loan. Most banks and credit unions will make secured loans to their customers. Borrowing money, investing the proceeds in a savings account at the financial institution as security, and repaying the loan in small monthly payments builds your credit history. The interest paid on the savings account is likely to be 2%-3% lower than the interest charged on the loan. The extra interest must be made from the your other income.
One of the easiest ways to tell if a financial service is legit is to check with the BBB. If a company is A+ rated, then you can have more confidence that they will provide legitimate help. Unfortunately, this protection isn’t available with credit repair companies. The Better Business Bureau doesn’t rate any company whose primary service offering is credit repair.
Self Lender, based in Austin, Texas, is designed to help consumers increase their financial health. Working in partnership with multiple banks, Self Lender offers a credit-builder account that is essentially a CD-backed installment loan. In other words, you open a CD with the bank and they extend a line of credit to you for the same amount. When you make payments, they report it to the credit bureaus.
Here’s a good example of when a reputable credit repair service can help you do something you may not be able to accomplish yourself. If you have a collection account that’s been sold to a few different debt collectors, it may appear on your credit report multiple times. That information is accurate but having that one debt dinging your credit score multiple times may not meet the “fair” standard Padawer mentioned.
Once you’ve confirmed the accuracy of your credit reports, you can begin working on the mistakes that you’re responsible for. One easy way to pinpoint your credit-score weaknesses is to sign up for a free WalletHub account. Your Credit Analysis will include a grade for each component of your latest credit score as well as personalized advice for how to improve problem areas.
The last major factor is your history of applying for credit. This accounts for 10% of most credit scores and may be holding you back if you applied for several credit accounts recently. This factor also takes time to correct, but any hard inquiries into your credit will only ding your scores slightly, and as they get older, they will have less of an impact. A year is generally when they begin to stop hurting your credit scores.
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.
Every time you apply for credit, your credit report is accessed and analyzed. Every time your credit report is accessed a record of this transaction is placed on your credit report and it is called an inquiry. Inquiries can drop your credit score by as much as 5 points a piece. If you are looking to get new credit, be sure you will qualify for the credit card or loan so you do not have unnecessary inquiries on your credit report. In addition, having a lot of new credit (10% of your score) looks risky to lenders, and your score will suffer.