4 tips for fixing an awful credit score
Your credit rating may be deeply damaged, but it's not beyond repair.
This post comes from Jeanne Kelly at partner site Credit.com.
It's easy for it to happen, especially after a divorce, bankruptcy, job loss or some other stressful event.
At rock bottom, things can feel bleak. It can feel as if there's no hope. But the good news is, many people have gone through the same thing and survived -- and even thrived -- as they rebuilt their credit.
Fix the errors.
Before you do anything else, get your credit reports and go through them with a highlighter, checking to see what information is there -- and especially checking for errors. Errors in credit reports are common, and it's hard to rebuild your credit when you have errors counting against you. Start there. Dispute the errors and make sure that your credit reports are truly a picture of you.
Lower credit card balances.
You might have some credit card accounts with high balances. If you start to pay those balances down, it can boost your score. One of the keys to raising your credit score is minimizing your credit utilization (balance/limit ratio on cards), which tends to be optimal when below 20%. If you're unable to get your balances down to 20%, work on paying them down as best you can, and you're likely to see steady improvement as you do.
End late payments.
Late payments can really hurt your credit score, so do all you can to avoid them. If you can't pay the balance in full, pay at least the minimum amount so that it will not count as late on your credit reports. While you might still have some past late payments haunting your credit reports, commit to no late payments moving forward, and over time it will have a positive impact on your credit scores.
Use a secured credit card.
If your credit score was lowered, it can be hard to get another loan, yet proof that you can repay loans is exactly what lenders want to see. Rebuild your credit history positively by getting a secured credit card (which is a credit card that requires you to deposit some money first as security). The credit card will count the same as a regular credit card when your credit scores are calculated, and you'll rebuild your credit history with positive, on-time credit card usage.
When your credit score hits rock bottom, it can feel like many of your dreams and goals in life need to be put on hold, and it can be hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.
Fortunately, all is not lost and many people come back from bad credit to achieve rebuilt credit and a rebuilt life. You can, too.
More on Credit.com and MSN Money:
- Does your credit score care what kind of credit card you're using?
- 11 tips to rebuild your credit
- What's missing from your credit report could hurt you
- Smart Spending on the go: Get our app for Android or iPhone
- When does bankruptcy make sense?
- How to work with a debt collector
the credit scoring system is flawed. I never had credit tried to get a credit card to built credit. Was told I had to many inquiries (from trying to get credit). Paid $600 dollars to get a secured card, paid it on time every month for the last 6 months put my score a 623 wtf. All I want is to buy a home you know something that everyone wants, but my credits not good enough because I don't have enough and if you try to get more the inquiries will bring you score down more. Its a flawed system!
People, get out of debt soon. It's not easy, I know from experience. I have been out of debt (except for a small mortgage on my home) for 20 years now. Don't be fooled by some in the media and some fools on here who say a great credit (debt) score is the way to go, It is 1 way to go, but not the best way. The only way to get a "credit" score is to go into debt, and pay it off. Sounds easy, but as most people know, it is very easy to get into trouble. You do not need a credit score for anything. You can rent a car, buy a car, rent an apartment, buy a house, and do everything you want and need without a credit score. My credit score is 0. It may be difficult to get out of debt, but not impossible. Being debt free is true freedom. You CAN do it. If you need somewhere to start, google Dave Ramsey, he has some good ideas. I followed his advice, and now I go to sleep at night knowing if something unexpected happens, (like the economy tanks, 1 of us loses our job, a medical emergency crops up, etc), everything that I have, I OWN. Nobody can come calling to take it away. That is why we all should be debt free. If I can do it, we ALL can! Peace.
There are several reasons to maintain a good credit rating, aside from "getting further into debt". Statistics show that those with higher credit scores are better drivers. Guess what -- that means an insurance company might want to check your credit report before giving you an auto policy, or giving you insurance at a better rate. Want to rent an apartment? Guess what -- they're going to run your credit report. Traveling and need to stay at a motel? Same thing -- they want to see a credit card, not cash. (That last is because if after you've left they find you damaged the premises , they can collect through the credit card but not if your cash has already left town.) Many card companies offer cash back for the use of their card, so if you pay off every month on time, you ultimately pay less by using the plastic. BTW, there is no "zero score". If you lack credit entirely the credit companies simply state that no score was calculated due to insufficient data. Lenders usually have a separate policy for dealing with these individuals. Generally that means they will consider your loan request, but at a higher interest rate than they offer others with established satisfactory credit. Getting good credit takes time -- don't expect to go from no credit to an awesome score in six months. Be patient, prudent, and don't make impulse purchases. You'll come out way ahead.
The debt free crowd of (un-educated) is out today. Simple, building a great credit score is using credit and paying it as you use it....without accruing debt. So, being debt free with a great credit score is what educated people do. Using credit is safer than cash, and safer than a debit card.
Building a great credit score without accruing debt is a simple easy plan....education is great, and for most of you here, I recommend you get some...education that is. Learn how to build a great credit score..........it doesn't take going into debt and stop ready Dave Ramsey.....get educated....
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Sounds too good to be true . . . but by using these extreme tactics, it's possible to save big at the pump.