It can take years to fix a bad credit score, but it’s not an impossible task. I have fixed my own credit on my own with times and patience. It wasn’t a sprint. More like a marathon, but the rewards were worth the wait.
Something as simple as missing a payment can drop your score by almost 50-100 points. I had this issue years ago when I ruined my own credit. I didn’t realize the value and importance of having a good credit score, until I tried to get a car loan, and has to pay 24% interest rate. I didn’t even know interest rates went that high. At that moment, I started getting serious about my credit. Below you’ll find some of the simple steps I took and steps that can help you raise and fix your bad credit score.
1. Understand why your credit score is bad.
When you embark on this journey, you’re going to have to take an introspective look at your credit score. What behaviors constitute to getting this bad result. In some cases, you might have fallen on hard times, and this was the only way to survive. Other times, it could have been poor money management, and in rare cases, you were taken advantage of in a time of weakness.
2. Create a budget and stick to it
Although this isn’t directly tied to fixing your credit score, it plays a big part in making sure that we don’t repeat senseless mistakes. If you’re not continuously monitoring your cash flow in and cash flow out, fixing your credit score won’t do you any good if you’re bound to destroy it again. Set realistic financial goals and a budget strategy you can keep. P.S. Budget the costs of postage, you’ll need this money set aside when your sending out your credit repair letters.
3. Keep updated contact information of the credit bureaus
The top three credit bureaus constantly get many pieces of mail. Knowing the most up to date mailing information is going to be an integral part of your credit repair journey. You may find a document with one address on it, and the address number could be off by one number which may cause your letter not to be received in a timely manner. My recommendation is to go directly to the bureaus’ website for the most up to date address.
4. Review your credit report for accuracy
These companies are in the business of selling your information and formulating a decision on your based on what is contained in your credit report. Now, this leaves you at an unfair advantage, especially if your credit file has inaccurate information on it. This is why it is imperative to review your credit report file once a year for inaccuracies and dispute them accordingly.
5. Get those negative marks removed
You’ve reviewed your report and you find inaccurate information that is impacting your report and score. Your next step is to get the information removed. Draft a letter stating when is inaccurate, why it’s inaccurate, and make the request to have the information removed. If the information can’t be verified, by law, it has to be removed from your credit file.
6. Get a secured credit card
If you have a low credit score, chances are that you won’t qualify for an unsecured credit card. Your next step is to try getting a secured credit card. This works similar to a debit card in the aspect of supplying your own funds for a credit limit. Essentially, you deposit a sum of money with the creditor, and that will be your credit limit. You use the card like a normal credit card. Pay in full, on time, every month to avoid fees and interest rates. This will help raise your credit score by displaying a great payment history and credit utilization.
7. Get a loan to pay off your cards
If you are in a position to do this, one recommendation is to get a personal loan and consolidate all your credit cards. This will allow you to possibly get a lower rate and you consolidated all your due dates into one payment. This may drastically increase your credit score because you will be showing low credit utilization, zero balances across several accounts, and a great payment history on your loan.
8. Add good credit accounts
There are many options to fix a bad credit score, and adding good credit accounts is one way to do that. We talked about getting a secured credit card, which is an option of adding good credit accounts. Getting added as an authorized user is also another way to add good credit accounts.
9. Become an authorized user
If you’re unable to get any credit cards on your own, one option that you can try is to get added as an authorized user on someone else’s card. Not only will this will help build up your credit, but they will benefit from the extra on time payment boost as well. Now, of course, this will take integrity and can possibly ruin a friendship and relationship if you don’t hold on to your end of the bargain.
10. Avalanche or Snowball?
Thirty percent of your credit score is determined by how much money you owe, also known as your credit utilization. If you do have debt, you need a plan to pay it off credit. You may have heard the term of debt avalanching, and this simply means to pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first. List all your debts in order of the interest rate and pay more than the minimum on the first credit card, while paying the minimum on that others. Once you pay the highest rate credit line off, move on to the next on the list and pay it off. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Get debt free.
Now to snowball your debt, it involves paying off the accounts with the smallest balance first. List all your credit lines from smallest to largest amount owed. List all your debts in order of balance owed and pay more than the minimum on the first credit card, while paying the minimum on that others. This method does make you pay more interest in the end, but most people feel a great sense of accomplishment from doing it this way.
11. Get current and stay current
Your payment history is 35% of your credit score. It is imperative to get your bills current and keep it that way. Negotiate the amounts you owe and find some way to get current on your bills then keep making on-time payments. Start a side hustle. Hone some of your talents to bring in more funds to your bottom line.
12. Autopay can be your best friend
Some of the success that wealthy people get is from automating mundane tasks. We all get busy and forget to pay our bills sometime. Do yourself a favor and set all your bills up for autopay. Setup email or text reminders for your statement dates and due dates. In this instance, the most important date is the statement date. When your statement is cut, your reminder will tell you to check your statement and review the bill. This will give you a chance to review your accounts and make sure everything is in line before that automatic payment comes out of your account.
13. Identity theft is real
I live in the fraud capital of the world. I have been the victim of identity theft 5 times in one year. Even as a victim, identity theft can ruin your credit and haunt you well after you’ve got the situation resolved. Make it a habit to check your accounts regularly. You can also set up an account with a credit monitoring service to keep an eye on your reports as well. I highly recommend MyFICO as a credit monitoring service.
Fixing a credit score will not happen overnight. Anyone who says that could be stretching the truth. However, after six months of good financial responsibility, you will notice some improvement. These steps will help you fix your credit score and in return, you will save thousands in interest payments over a lifetime.