One of the most common questions I am asked is “how do I fix bad credit?”, so I thought I would share some quick credit repair and credit rebuilding tips. Here are some of the main steps to help you begin to repair your credit.
Tip 1: Check your Credit
You cannot fix a problem you are not aware of, and there are likely some problems on your credit report. You should check your credit at least a few times a year and perhaps more if your bank has had a recent data breach.
Check your credit to see how your credit score is looking, see if there are errors, check for identity theft, and check if your info has been used for fraudulent credit applications etc. There are many reasons why you should be checking your credit report on a regular basis.
There are a few methods/places to check credit, but I only recommend checking your credit directly from the only 2 direct sources in Canada which are TransUnion and Equifax.
You can check your credit the fast way by paying roughly $30 and this requires a credit card to be able to pay for the report. This paid method will show your credit score as well as full credit history. Or if you cannot afford the $30 or do not have a credit card and wish to view your credit, then you can request a free report which will show you your credit history and usage, but it will not show your credit score.
What about FREE credit reports – There are also some 3rd party apps and websites that will give you a free credit report, but please be warned that 3rd party credit checking websites/apps simply pull your credit data from the 2 true sources and may not be current data they are showing, so why not check your credit right from the true source (Equifax and TransUnion) instead. Another concern is that by letting a 3rd party check your credit you could potentially be giving out parts of your information for lenders to market loans and other products to you (read the fine print).
Remember to ALWAYS check BOTH credit bureaus as some lenders report to only one of the 2 credit bureaus therefore your credit report can be different when compared to each other. Here are the links to check your credit score yourself direct from the true sources:
Please contact our office if you need help dealing with problems on your credit report or read on to our next article for more info on fixing your credit.
Contact Us Today! If you want help to Reduce your Debt and Rebuild your Credit
Tip 2: Correct Errors on your Credit Report
There are many articles online about how to correct errors on your credit report, so I will not elaborate too much. The basic concept is that if your report has errors, those errors could be lowering your score or causing you to not be approved for a loan or mortgage. Therefore, it is imperative that you check your credit and report errors to the credit bureau that is reporting it. If an error is showing up on your Equifax based credit report for example, then report the problem to Equifax by filling out and mailing in an Equifax Dispute Form, or use this Transunion Dispute Form for an error on your Transunion
By disputing errors this will remove any false information off your credit report which may help you repair/improve your credit score or at least help you narrow in on what the real actual problems are.
Tip 3: Take Steps That Increase Your Credit Score
Once you have fixed any major errors on your credit report and/or reduced your debt levels, then its time to move on to building a better credit score. Credit scores range from 300 to 900 and good credit is typically considered to be scores above 660. I want to focus instead on how to build a better credit score/rating, and so here are some of the best ways to improve your credit sore/rating:
- Reduce Utilization/Balances – A very large part of your credit score is made up of how much of your available credit you are using at that time. Example – if the amount of money you owe (credit utilization) on your credit card vs how much you can borrow (credit limit) is very close, then you may notice your credit score start to decrease.
This is because as you get closer to being “maxed out” on your debt, and the longer you stay near maxed out, the more of a risk you look like to lenders, and therefore the more your credit score will drop. The reverse of this is that if you are in high debt and it is affecting your credit score, then by paying down your debt you should start to notice your score start to increase.
Or if you are stuck in very high debt that you cannot pay off, then you need to go back to step 2 and look at eliminating that debt first as this will correct the high utilization problem and beginning your journey to living debt free and having good credit.
- Always pay your debt minimum payments on time – missing a minimum payment due date is the largest factor that will negatively affect your credit score. Set reminders in your calendar and phone to make your minimums if you want to build or maintain good credit. Remember, always paying the full minimum payment (or more) on time will increase your credit score over time.
- Time – a smaller portion of your credit score is made up of how long you have had credit items. So, if you have an old credit card, perhaps don’t cancel your oldest credit card as this will likely cause your credit score to drop. Even if you are not using it and it is paid off, it might make sense to keep it if you only have a few items of credit reporting on your credit report.
- Don’t apply for too many loans at once – every time you apply for a loan it is considered a “HARD credit inquiry” and it will slightly lower your credit score. So applying for a loan at one or two places at once is not a problem generally, however, if you go loan shopping and apply at many banks in a short period of time it will negatively impact your score as you begin to look like a potential credit risk.
However, this effect is designed to go away quickly, so if you simply need a loan, you do need to apply and the credit check cannot be avoided, so go ahead and do it. But just do not try at too many places at once.
TIP – Check your credit yourself first and make sure your score is high enough for you to bother applying for loans, then go and apply for the loan or credit product you want at the place you want it and avoid “credit shopping”.
If your shopping for a mortgage, it might make sense to use a mortgage broker who can pull your credit one time and send your application to many lenders which therefore reduces the credit pull to one time only for many options.
MYTH – checking my own credit will hurt my credit score. Answer – No it will not. It is important to understand that if you check your OWN credit with the links in our Tip 1, this will NOT hurt your credit.
Checking your own credit is considered a “soft inquiry” and will not reduce your credit score. It is only when you apply for a credit product and sign a loan application that the lender or 3rd party checks your credit for themselves to see if you qualify that it is considered a hard inquiry which then reduces your score a bit.
There are many other tips and ways to increase/improve your credit rating/score, but they cannot all be covered here, so I will continue adding to these ideas in future articles.
In my experience the main reason people have low credit scores is from having too much debt that they cannot afford to pay off and beginning to falter on payments.
So if your stuck in high debt, then Contact Us Today! So we can first help you become Debt Free!
Tip 4: Fix the Debt Problem First!
FACT: “You cannot repair your credit, when you are overloaded and falling behind on your Debt!” If you are not able to pay down your debt and the burden is getting bigger, then it works best to eliminate the debt first with a debt reduction plan and then focus on credit repair later.
I have learned a lot over my past 10 years helping people reduce their debt and rebuild their credit score. And one of the most important lessons is that people cannot effectively fix credit when they are stuck in high debt and stuck a cycle of making only minimum payments.
The reason is that one of the main causes of low credit rating/score is either missed payments or being MAXED OUT on all of one’s credit products. Too many people hang on to a decent credit score as if that is the most important thing while they are wasting tens of thousands of dollars every year on minimum payments which will never get them out of debt.
Being stuck in a cycle of high debt and making only the minimum payments is damaging for long term retirement options. Therefore, my recommendation is that people focus on REDUCING or ELIMINATING their debt first and then worry about repairing their credit later.
I find it odd that people know they can eliminate their debt with one of 5 Best Ways to Consolidate Your Debt, but they are often scared to do it for fear of hurting their credit. So in essence they cling so tightly to their perceived good credit score without realizing it is this clinging that is keeping their credit score low as well as keeping them stuck in debt for potentially decades.
The simple fact is that if you are stuck under a heavy weight of high debt loads, then you likely cannot effectively increase your credit score until you first reduce or eliminate your debt problem. You can read this article to better understand how debt restructuring will affect your credit.
The beautiful truth is that once you eliminate the debt problem, you can easily repair your credit score for the long term. Once the debt is eliminated you also have the benefit of being able to invest and save for retirement or simply have more cash at the end of each month to enjoy life more fully.
If you want to fix your credit, but know that you are stuck under a large pile of debt, then please Contact Us Today! So we can help you become Debt Free!
In summary, a person’s credit score is important, but more important is getting and staying out of unsecured consumer debt. Carrying debt throughout your adult life can annihilate any chance you had a building a nice retirement and adds mountains of unnecessary stress to your life that can even have negative health implications.
What to do Next?
If you want to first spend more time researching the options for reducing debt, then here is an article on the The 5 Best Ways to Reduce And Consolidate Your Debt.
If some of this credit repair info is too confusing and you feel you cannot fix your complicated bad credit problem, please call us and ask us any questions you have. We have been helping people fix credit and debt problems for almost 2 decades and we work locally in person right in your own community to ensure the very best service and results for you.
Don’t stay stuck under a load of crushing debt, please contact us to BOOK A FREE DEBT RELIEF OPTIONS CONSULTATION to see how much we can help you reduce your debt by. There is a way for you to obtain freedom from your debt and have good credit.
Contact Us Today! So we can first help you become Debt Free and help you Rebuild Your Credit!