Fixing Bad Credit – How to Fix Bad Credit Quickly and Easily
Whether you’re trying to save money on loans and credit cards or you need to qualify for employment, your credit report and score play a huge role in your finances. If you have a poor credit history, the right tools and methods can help you repair it and improve your score. A pristine credit score and report can also make it easier to get approved for financing and earn favorable borrowing terms.
Rebuilding credit isn’t fast. Negative marks like missed payments and judgments stay on credit reports for seven years, while bankruptcies can linger for up to a decade. But you can make significant progress quickly, especially if you start off strong by correcting errors in your credit reports.
Review each of your three credit reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax for errors that may be dragging down your scores. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have the right to dispute inaccurate information with the credit bureaus at no charge.
If you find erroneous information, dispute it immediately. The credit bureaus and the creditor are legally obligated to investigate your claim and remove the incorrect information from your report, though it can take some time. If the errors are serious enough, you can also choose to pay for a service that will do a more thorough investigation on your behalf and may be able to get additional items removed from your report.
Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score, so the first step in fixing bad credit is to focus on paying your bills on time. The best way to do that is by setting up automatic payments for bills, utility or cell phone services. You should also focus on bringing down your credit utilization, which is how much debt you have in relation to your total available credit. It’s usually recommended to keep this below 30%, but some people need to reduce their balances more than others to improve their credit scores.
Consider working with a credit counselor to tackle the root causes of your debt problem, which could be anything from spending more than you’re making to an inability to manage cash flow. A counselor can also help you create a plan to pay off your debt and work on financial habits that will prevent future mistakes.
It’s a good idea to use only one or two credit cards, as opening several in a short period of time can be viewed negatively by credit bureaus. If you do need to open new accounts, opt for a secured credit card, which requires you to put up a deposit upfront. This type of card tends to have better terms than unsecured credit cards, which are often offered to people with poorer credit histories and come with higher interest rates.
When repairing your credit, avoid companies that promise to eliminate negative information from your report or to create a brand-new credit identity for you. While these services can be helpful in some cases, they’re not free and aren’t guaranteed to be successful.