The difference between the credit utilization ratio and the debt-to-income ratio is that the credit utilization ratio is the only one that will impact your credit score. The debt-to-income ratio is used by lenders and can be very influential when it comes to extending credit which is why it also plays a significant role and should also be monitored as you would your credit utilization.
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Every time you pay on time it creates a positive space that stays on your credit forever and pushes you ahead. But each time you pay more than 30 days late, it sets you back 7 years from the date the payment was missed. And the longer a debt goes unpaid, the more it sets you back. If you let it go unpaid too long, the creditor writes off the account and changes the status to charge-off. Charge offs also set you back 7 years.
Order your free credit reports. Credit reporting agencies are required to give you a free copy of your credit report once a year, when you request it. You'll need to go to www.annualcreditreport.com to order the reports.[7] The credit report includes a credit score and your credit history. Businesses and lenders use this to decide whether or not to offer you credit and what interest they'll charge.
The way a secure credit card works is simply. You prepay your credit ahead of time to “secure” all of your purchases. Your credit limit for this type of card is exactly the amount of money that you prepay. This basically makes you a zero risk debtor to the bank if you happen to not pay your bill. You can obtain a secured credit card for as little as $200, so there really isn’t any reason to NOT get one.
If you’re going to be hiring one of these services, you probably want to know what you’ll be receiving for your money – right?  Companies that claim to help fix your credit should be completely upfront with what they can and can't do for your situation.  A good company can remove negative items from your credit report and help improve your FICO score, making it easier to obtain a home, vehicle, mortgage, or insurance.
If you download your reports, review and send the disputes that day, you can expect it to take anywhere from 31-40 days. The timing depends on how quickly the bureaus receive your dispute. It will take longer if you need to make disputes in several rounds to the same bureau. If you have more than five disputes to make on one report, you should always send them in rounds, five at a time.
We'll start with derogatory marks like collection accounts and judgments. It's not uncommon to have at least one collection account appear on your report. I had two from health care providers I used after having a heart attack; my insurance company was extremely slow to pay and kept claiming it had paid while the providers said it had not,  and eventually the accounts ended up with a collection agency. At that point, I decided to pay them right away and argue with the insurance company later, but both collections wound up on my credit report.

If you have no credit or can't get a credit card on your own, explore the option of becoming an authorized user on a credit card. What you do is ask a primary cardholder, like a family member or significant other, if you can get an authorized card in your name on their account. Keep in mind that some scoring systems may give less weight to authorized user accounts than they do to primary accounts, but you would still stand to benefit from them.


To take advantage of this tip, you will need to call each creditor and ask for their official monthly report date. Create a list of these dates and keep them handy. Then, all you have to do is make sure you make your monthly payment prior to each report date (instead of by the due date on your statement). This will ensure that the lowest possible balance for each of your accounts is reported each month. Score!
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is great for people who may not have the cash available for a $200 security deposit. The minimum security deposit is $49, $99 or $200, based on your creditworthiness. If you qualify for the $49 or $99 deposit, you will still receive a $200 credit limit. This is a great feature, plus you can get access to a higher credit line after making your five monthly payments on time — without needing to deposit more money. This card also comes with Platinum Mastercard benefits that include auto rental and travel accident insurance, 24-hour travel assistance services and more.
What can and DOES change is whether you have a collector pursuing you for the debt. If you are talking about a dormant account that has been in collections and has finally been left alone with no collections activity for a few years, messing with it can be problematic from the point of view that the collections people will start pestering you again to see if they can get money and if the SOL isn't up, they can start reporting on it again which can affect your score or they could even file suit if your state SOL isn't up.
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I wanted to raise my score a nudge, so I decided to get a car loan at a very low rate. I spent a year paying it off just to get a mix in my credit. At first, my score went down a little, but after about six months, my score started increasing. Your credit mix is only 10% of your FICO score, but sometimes that little bit can bump you up from good credit to excellent credit.

We made the following tips as practical as possible to give you both the structure of a plan and a clue about how to actually stick to it. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things, after all. We also explored how long the hands of time will have to turn before you can put bad credit behind you, hopefully once and for all.
Payment history accounts for the largest factor affecting your credit score. If you are behind on your payments, you won’t be able to improve your credit situation. Try to bring all of your accounts up to date. If you can’t afford to bring everything up to date at once, you can contact your creditors and work out a payment plan. Be up-front when you contact your creditors, explaining your situation and letting them know that you want to pay your obligation. Let your creditors know how much you can pay, and how long you expect to pay it. In many cases, it’s possible to work out an arrangement that all parties can live with.

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As part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, certain activities are prohibited under the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Specifically, credit repair companies cannot require payment in advance for credit repair services. The act further requires all contracts be in writing and that consumers have certain cancellation rights. Since this is federal law, consumers in every state are protected. If you have been told that you can't cancel a contract with a credit repair company, speak to an attorney in your area about your rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act.
If the dispute is not resolved in your favor, you have the right to add a 100-word statement to your file explaining the issue. This is called a consumer statement. This may not be very helpful, however, since many creditor’s either won’t see or won’t read the statement. You may be better off hiring a consumer law attorney or contacting the Federal Trade Commission.
Even closing an account won’t make your late payments disappear. Your best bet here is to get yourself back on the right track — set up payment due date alerts with all your credit cards and loans and get organized. You can move credit card payment due dates around pretty easily on your bank or lender’s website. Be sure to check your payment due dates in relation to your paycheck schedule.
Each of the nationwide credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — is required to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months, if you ask for it. To order, visit annualcreditreport.com, or call 1-877-322-8228. You may order reports from each of the three credit reporting companies at the same time, or you can stagger your requests throughout the year.
This [These] item[s] [identify item(s) disputed by name of source, such as creditors or tax court, and identify type of item, such as credit account, judgment, etc.] is [inaccurate or incomplete] because [describe what is inaccurate or incomplete and why]. I am requesting that the item[s] be removed [or request another specific change] to correct the information.

As part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, certain activities are prohibited under the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Specifically, credit repair companies cannot require payment in advance for credit repair services. The act further requires all contracts be in writing and that consumers have certain cancellation rights. Since this is federal law, consumers in every state are protected. If you have been told that you can't cancel a contract with a credit repair company, speak to an attorney in your area about your rights under the Credit Repair Organizations Act.


No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. You can ask for an investigation —at no charge to you — of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete. Some people hire a company to investigate for them, but anything a credit repair company can do legally, you can do for yourself at little or no cost. By law:
If you see missed payments that shouldn’t have been there, write it down. Your credit score is negatively impacted when you are 30 days or more past due. If you see a balance on a card that you haven’t used in years, it could be because the account has been stolen. Misinformation in the accounts section harms your credit score, so make a note of all incorrect information.

Following these tips will not only save you money but also teach you the valuable skills necessary to maintain a good credit score in your future. If you have bad credit, don’t give up on credit entirely. Instead, be responsible and stay educated about your accounts and scores so you can successfully handle your own finances and find a credit repair plan that works well for your situation.
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The difference between the credit utilization ratio and the debt-to-income ratio is that the credit utilization ratio is the only one that will impact your credit score. The debt-to-income ratio is used by lenders and can be very influential when it comes to extending credit which is why it also plays a significant role and should also be monitored as you would your credit utilization.
You've probably seen advertisements for credit repair on television or heard them on the radio. Maybe even seen credit repair signs on the side of the road. You don't have to hire a professional to fix your credit. The truth is, there is nothing a credit repair company can do to improve your credit that you can’t do for yourself. Save some money and the hassle of finding a reputable company and repair your credit yourself. The next steps will show you how.

Understand your credit score. This number, ranging from 300 to 850, represents your creditworthiness. Software developed by FICO and used by the credit reporting agencies determines the score. The scores between agencies should be similar, but there may be differences. It's important to make sure that your information is correct for each reporting agency.[9]


You could consolidation the loans with a federal Direct Consolidation Loan. The Department of Education will issue you a new loan and use the money to pay off your existing loans. If you include your defaulted loan, that loan will be paid off, and your new consolidation loan will be current. To be eligible, you must agree to either repay the consolidation loan with an income-driven repayment plan or to make three monthly payments on your defaulted loan before applying for consolidation.
Going forward, pay your bills on time. This includes non-credit bills. Your missed utility payments and late rent payments can be reported to the credit bureaus. Because payment history is so important, establishing a reliable pattern is vital to rebuilding your credit. At the very least, you want to avoid reports that you are missing payments, or paying habitually late. Consider setting up automatic withdrawals in order to avoid missing payments in the future.
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.

I am a mortgage officer at a community bank. Knowing the importance of credit I have been helping my daughter to rebuild her credit over the past 11 months. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. If you have late payments -a good payment history takes time to rebuild! When I started working with my daughter her credit score was 533 due to late payments on her student loan and a medical collection of $135. I am pleased to say her current score is 754! You may ask how could her score be increased over 200 points in less than a year?

Next, estimate your monthly spending habits for other expenses such as gas, groceries and entertainment. Create a limit, based on your income, of what you can spend in each of the different categories of expenses. For example, if you tend to spend $400 a month on groceries, try to stick to $300 a month on groceries by making changes like buying generic brands, using coupons, and resisting impulse purchases.


Companies that want you to lie about credit history or create a new credit identity can get you into legal trouble. Companies that provide “new” identifying information use stolen Social Security numbers, and if you use this number then you are committing fraud. Likewise using an Employee Identification Number or Credit Profile Number provided by these companies is a crime. Rather than committing fraud, take the steps below to improve credit on your own.
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.
So when talking about fixing bad credit, there is more to it than just trying to increase a credit score. It is about repairing the errors and omissions in your credit reports. Responsibly managing your credit will help you start working towards a better credit score, but truly fixing bad credit requires that you also focus on the source of the problem.
Despite what some advertisements may imply, there is no magic formula for rebuilding your credit score quickly. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so it may take a long time to reach your destination. However, if you take the right steps and avoid further mistakes, it shouldn't take too long before you can start to see progress in your credit score. That progress should encourage the positive habits that will eventually fully repair your credit.

Top of the line software offers features like autofill templates. But the cost of this software is comparable to the cost of a credit repair service. This is why we recommend going straight for a service if you’re not confident about making disputes yourself. You can try the software, but you may still find yourself unsure about how to proceed. If you’re going to pay for credit repair, it’s best to get it right the first time!


Your loan balances also affect your credit score in a similar way. The credit score calculation compares your loan current loan balance to the original loan amount. The closer your loan balances are to the original amount you borrowed, the more it hurts your credit score. Focus first on paying down credit card balances because they have more impact on your credit score.
Be punished for missed payments: Not all late payments are created equally. If you are fewer than 30 days late, your missed payment will likely not be reported to the bureau (although you still will be subject to late fees and potential risk-based re-pricing, which can be very expensive). Once you are 30 days late, you will be reported to the credit bureau. The longer you go without paying, the bigger the impact on your score, ie: 60 days late is worse than 30 days late. A single missed payment (of 30 days or more) can still have a big impact on your score. It can take anywhere from 60 to 110 points off your score.
Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.
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.
Just as one example, the average age of your credit accounts is a component of this category. Let's say that you have four credit cards -- one that's a year old, two that you opened three years ago, and one that you opened 10 years ago but don't use anymore. Currently, your average credit card account is 4.25 years old. If you decided to close your old and unused account, however, this average would drop to just 2.33 years and could hurt your FICO score.
In addition to a cashback program, this card provides valuable credit resources such as free access to your FICO® Score and a Credit Resource Center — just note these services are available whether you’re a cardholder or not. Discover also takes the guesswork out of wondering when you’re ready for an unsecured card (aka a regular credit card) by performing automatic monthly account reviews, starting at eight months of card membership.
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.
If you have a number of mistakes that appear in your report, you may want to only include a few disputes at a time. We recommend a maximum of five disputes in a one ltter. This means that you may need to go through several rounds of disputes if you’ve never repaired your credit before. If you do this process regularly, then it typically takes one round, at most.
Credit repair refers to the process of disputing mistakes and errors in your credit reports. Each credit bureau maintains their own proprietary version of your credit report. They strive to maintain accurate information, but errors can occur. Credit repair is the process you use to correct those errors by submitting a dispute to the credit bureau that issued that report. If the information cannot be verified within 30 days, the credit bureau must remove the item you disputed.
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: scott.dylan@get.com.

In general, credit repair takes about three to six months to resolve all of the disputes that the average consumer needs to make. Of course, if you only have a few mistakes to correct or you repair your credit every year, it may not take as long; you might be done in just over one month. On the other hand, if you’ve never corrected your credit and have a large volume of things to dispute, it may take longer.
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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%.
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.
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You'll probably have a limited amount of money to put toward credit repair each month. So, you'll have to prioritize where you spend your money. Focus first on accounts that are in danger of becoming past due. Get as many of these accounts current as possible, preferably all of them. Then, work on bringing down your credit card balances. Third are those accounts that have already been charged-off or sent to a collection agency.
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