Increase your credit limit: A new credit card will increase your overall credit limit, which in turn lowers your credit utilization ratio. The more credit that lenders approve you for, the more trustworthy you seem to other lenders. As a bonus, look for a credit card that has some great perks like cash back incentives, so you can earn money while you use it. Here is a good list of the best cards with great perks.
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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.
Pay down current and past-due debts first. Don’t fall into the trap of paying off old debts by postponing payments of current debt. The late payment accounts are already reflected on your credit report and score. Keeping credit accounts current helps your score by having good credit sources that are older, rather than new. When paying off past debts, explain to your creditor that you are trying to become current and ask for help. Your creditor might:
The mix of credit you have is 10% of your credit score. The credit-scoring model favors people who have both revolving lines of credit (credit cards) and installment credit (auto loans and mortgages), or a “mix” of the two types of credit. If you only have credit cards listed on your credit report, this can hurt your score. Consider applying for an auto loan or a mortgage, and make sure the lender will report the account to the credit bureaus.
There is one exception to that rule… If you default on a federal student loan and then bring it current, any negative actions from the late payments disappear. But for all other debts, charge-offs are usually sold to collections, which creates ANOTHER trouble space that causes issues for 7 years. So, letting a debt slip into default is almost a double or triple whammy to your game.
Since your credit score is based on information in your credit reports, you need to see what’s on them. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the credit bureaus and you can see all of your credit reports from the 3 major credit bureaus at once by going to annualcreditreport.com. Reviewing your credit report will allow you some insight on why your credit score is low.
Remember, though, that any credit card isn’t an excuse to spend more money. Whether you get a secured card or use an unsecured card, getting a card just to “free up” more money that you don’t actually have to spend out of control won’t help you in the long run. You have to keep a tight rein on your spending. If you can’t change your habits so that you are in control of your spending, don’t get a credit card, secured or unsecured.
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.)
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.
If following the steps above seems daunting, some organizations specialize in paid credit repair services. Most of the services require a monthly subscription fee between $60-$100 per month, and most reviews report that the negative items are completely removed within 3-5 months. Despite the high cost, legitimate companies provide a valuable service if you’ve been the victim of identity theft and you want someone else to do the work for you.
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.
1) Fix any errors in your credit report. It's bad enough if you've made your share of mistakes in the past so you certainly don't want to be penalized for ones you didn't make as well. About 70% of credit reports have them so there's a good chance at least one of yours does too. You can get a free copy of each of your 3 credit reports every 12 months, at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. Once you get your report, you can then correct any errors you find that could be hurting your score.
Each account on your credit report has a rating. A letter followed by a number shows the type of account and the rating. For example, if you have an account, that is rated as an I1 that is an individual account that is paid on time. If you have an account that has a J1, that is a joint account. An I5 could mean trouble. Highlight everything that isn't a 1 and everything that is turned over to collections.
FICO, myFICO, Score Watch, The score lenders use, and The Score That Matters are trademarks or registered trademarks of Fair Isaac Corporation. Equifax Credit Report is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. and its affiliated companies. Many factors affect your FICO Scores and the interest rates you may receive. Fair Isaac is not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Fair Isaac does not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit record, credit history or credit rating. FTC's website on credit.