All credit scores are based on the contents of your credit reports. Any errors in those reports can cause undeserved credit-score damage. They can also indicate fraud. So check your reports, dispute any errors you find, and take steps to protect yourself from identity theft if necessary. In particular, look for collections accounts, public records, late payments and other bad credit-score influencers.
If that doesn’t work, the Federal Trade Commission offers a sample letter you can use as a template to make disputes. Include copies of any documents that support your dispute (always keep the originals for yourself). State only the facts in your letter and concisely express why you are making the dispute. Send the letter by certified mail with “return receipt requested: to verify when the bureau received your dispute.
It’s been only a year since I opened my first card last September, and I already have a solid FICO score – 720, the last time I checked. That’s not a perfect score by any means, but it lands me safely in the “good” credit range, meaning I probably won’t have trouble getting approved for new credit in the future. I still have work to do if I want to get into the “very good” credit category, which starts at 740, according to MyFICO, but for a credit card newbie I’m not disappointed in my progress so far.
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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.
Becoming an authorized user on someone else's credit card or adding an authorized user to your credit card is an easy way to give your credit score a boost. For married couples and long-term partners, this move is a no-brainer. You can both improve your credit scores just by signing on as an authorized user of each other's credit cards. Lenders look at cardholders who are authorized users differently because they are different. Statistically, cardholders who are trusted by friends, family members and partners are more reliable borrowers, which earns them a small boost to their credit score.
No! And it’s bad that consumers think that credit repair is bad because of the scams. A few bad apples make it seem like the credit repair process, as a whole, is fraudulent. But credit repair is a federally protected consumer right. And if you avoid credit repair because you’re worried about scams, you could miss out on the chance to easily boost your score.
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.
Amount of Debt: Debt contributes 30% to a FICO Score’s calculation and can be easier to clean up than payment history, according to FICO’s website. (It weighs heavily on other credit scoring models, too.) That’s because if you currently have five maxed out credit cards, creditors worry whether you’ll be able to take on more credit and whether they’ll get paid back first or if your other creditors will.
If you don’t want to go through the effort of fixing errors yourself, you can also hire a credit repair company to send fix requests on your behalf. Keep in mind that credit repair companies might try to convince you to try other ways to fix your credit, but you are paying by the month, so make sure they are focusing on your errors. Here are the two best credit repair companies compared side by side.
They may be willing to waive some of the late penalties or spread the past due balance over few payments. Let them know you're anxious to avoid charge-off, but need some help. Your creditor may even be willing to re-age your account to show your payments as current rather than delinquent, but you'll have to actually talk to your creditors to negotiate.
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Bad credit is not a life sentence, which is good news for the roughly one-third of people with credit scores below 620. So if your credit is damaged, there are indeed steps that you can take to rebuild. After all, rebuilding credit is a process that takes time and requires focus on the fundamentals. And we’ll explain exactly what you need to do below.
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.
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.
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.
If you have poor credit and need to consolidate your debt, you should know your rights, so you can avoid being bullied by your creditors. Homeowners with poor credit should carefully consider whether or not their credit has improved since the original mortgage was secured. This is essential because mortgage consultants who specialize in obtaining mortgages and re-financing for those with poor credit will likely be very knowledgeable about the types of options available to the homeowners.
If you don't plan on using them all it can help. Keep in mind, applying to multiple credit agencies can negatively impact your credit score. However if you already have multiple accounts that are in good standing, that looks good for credit variety and age of credit. Either way there are pros and cons and a lot of factors to consider when making decisions about your credit.
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:
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.
Repairing your credit is certainly something that you can do yourself, but it requires a lot of time, work, and organization. Correcting just a single error on your credit report can take several hours when you consider obtaining copies of your report, writing a dispute letter, and communicating with creditors. There are advantages to hiring professionals who are familiar with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and understand credit law to do the legwork for you.
Beyond that is creditor information, which makes up most of your reports. This includes different accounts you have (loans, credit cards, etc.), their status (open/closed, in collections), balances, credit limits and payment details. This may also include dates of missed payments or late payments, or when the accounts were sent to collections. From these details, your credit scores will be formed.