When you find yourself with damaged credit, it’s important to catch your breath and begin laying the foundation for a brighter financial future. Testing your financial literacy and educating yourself are part of that. But the centerpiece of this effort should be your emergency fund. With money saved for a rainy day, you’ll be far less likely to miss payments and damage your credit if met by hefty emergency expenses.
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.
Scott Dylan is a contributing writer at GET.com and has been to (almost) every country in North, Central and South America with nothing more than a backpack, a laptop and the desire to explore. He speaks Spanish fluently and has logged enough time in planes, trains, rideshares, buses, taxis and rickshaws to know how to rack up rewards and points to get anywhere his heart desires for pennies on the dollar. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might be used to checking out at a store and being asked if you’d like to open a credit card. While these credit cards come with really high interest rates and are great tools to tempt you into buying items you don’t need, there is a big perk to store credit cards: they’re more likely to approve people with low credit scores. Just be sure to only use the card to make one small purchase a month and then pay it off on time and in full. Unsubscribe to emails about deals and don’t even carry it around everyday in your wallet if you can’t resist the desire to spend. Read more here.
If you have impossibly high interest on those credit cards, then do cancel them. It doesn’t help to have open credit cards if the interest rate makes it nearly impossible for you to get the balance down. In fact, banks currently have hardship programs, where they will reduce your interest rate TO ZERO if you agree that they will cancel your cards. Yes, you wll take an immediate hit on your credit score, but that will quickly improve as you pay down your credit cards, which you can now do because you don’t have those usurious interest rates to pay.
Many companies that claim to be able to fix your credit simply have a poor track record of delivering on their promises. Several turn out to be credit monitoring services in disguise that do nothing more than provide you with a credit score and fancy tools to monitor your credit. But what you're actually paying for is the cost they incur to obtain your score and subsequent reports. Some companies can also temporarily remove items from your credit report, but these items will eventually reappear and you're back at square one. When they cannot repair your credit by traditional and legal means, some credit repair companies turn to outright fraud including creating a new identity with a new social security number. These tactics are illegal and can end up costing you more in the long run.
We all know that good credit is important, but most people struggle from time to time with too much debt, loss of income, or other financial emergencies. Collection agencies start entering the picture when payments are late or incomplete. People often file bankruptcy hoping for a new start, only to find their future credit is negatively affected for seven or more years. Understanding how to repair your credit is a far better alternative emotionally and financially.
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Also for DIY credit repair, you need updated copies of your current credit report. If you haven’t obtained your free annual credit report that covers all 3 major reporting bureaus yet, then get them here absolutely free: Access your free credit report from the big three major credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, all on one easy to read report.
How it works: You can add your teen as an authorized user to your account by logging in to your online account or calling the number on the back of your card. The information required typically includes their name, birthday and SSN. After adding your teen as an authorized user, they will receive their own card that is linked to your account. They can use their card to make purchases just like you would.
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.
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.
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.
Even if you are careful about guarding your information, you can still be a victim of identity theft. Anyone who gains access to personal information like social security numbers and addresses can open credit cards or loans in your name with no intention of paying any of the money borrowed back. When this happens, your credit will suffer and it can take awhile to repair the damage. Pull your credit reports on a regular basis and look out for accounts and information that are not yours.