Nobody takes out a loan expecting to default on it. Despite their best intentions, people sometimes find themselves struggling to pay off their loans. These types of struggles happen for many reasons, including job loss, significant debt, or a medical or personal crisis.
Making late payments or having a loan fall into default can add pressure to other personal struggles. Before finding yourself in a desperate situation, understanding how a loan default can impact your credit is necessary to avoid negative consequences.
30 days late
Missing one payment can further lower your credit score. If you can pay the past due amount plus applicable late fees, you may be able to mitigate the damage to your credit, if you make all other payments as expected.
The trouble starts when you (1) miss a payment, (2) do not pay it at all, and (3) continue to miss subsequent payments. If those actions happen, the loan falls into default.
More than 30 days late
Payments that are more than 30 days past due can trigger increasingly serious consequences:
The loan default may appear on your credit reports. It will likely lower your credit score, which most creditors and lenders use to review credit applications.
You may receive phone calls and letters from creditors demanding payment.
If you still do not pay, the account could be sent to collections. The debt collector seeks payment from you, sometimes using aggressive measures.
Then, the collection account can remain on your credit report for up to seven years. This action can damage your creditworthiness for future loan or credit card applications. Also, it may be a deciding factor when obtaining basic necessities, such as utilities or a mobile phone.
Other ways a default can hurt you
Hurting your credit score is reason enough to avoid a loan default. Some of the other actions creditors can take to collect payment or claim collateral are also quite serious:
If you default on a car loan, the creditor can repossess your car.
If you default on a mortgage, you could be forced to foreclose on your home.
In some cases, you could be sued for payment and have a court judgment entered against you.
You could face bankruptcy.
Any of these additional consequences can plague your credit score for years and hinder your efforts to secure your financial future.
How to avoid a loan default
Your options to avoid a loan default depend upon the type of loan you have and the nature of your personal circumstances. For example:
For student loans, research deferment or forbearance options. Both options permit you to temporarily stop making payments or pay a lesser amount per month.
For a mortgage, ask the lender if a loan modification is available. Changing the loan from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate, or extend the life of the loan so your monthly payments are smaller.
Generally, you can avoid a loan default by exercising common sense: buy only what you need and can afford, keep a steady job that earns enough income to cover your expenses, and keep the rest of your debts low.
Clean up your credit
The hard reality is that defaulting on a loan is unpleasant. It can negatively affect your credit profile for years. Through patience and perseverance, you can repair the damage to your credit and improve your standing over time.
Consulting with a credit repair law firm can help you address these issues and get your credit back on track. At Lexington Law, we offer a free credit report summary and consultation. Call us today at 1-855-255-0139.
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If you are dealing with calls from debt collectors, getting notices for overdue bills you still can’t pay or have old debts you’d like to settle to clean up your credit report, you may be able to take action. Many people don’t realize that all debts aren’t written in stone, and you may be able to negotiate with creditors to move your finances in a more positive direction. Here, learn how to negotiate with creditors and when it’s a good option to try.
When should you try to negotiate?
Negotiating with a creditor usually involves trying to get them to accept a debt settlement. This means that you agree to pay a portion of the debt instead of the full amount, and the creditor accepts this. Creditors are sometimes willing to agree to these arrangements because they know that an account already in collections is less likely to be paid, and they would rather have some money than none at all.
Working out a debt settlement can help you get current on accounts again or help you pay off old collection debt. However, there are some things to be aware of.
Successfully negotiating a debt settlement doesn’t make the debt go away completely. It will still show on your credit report until it ages off after seven years, and even if the creditor marks it as paid, the negative payment history can still affect your credit score. In some cases, starting to make payments on the debt again as part of a settlement agreement can also restart the statute of limitations on the debt.
In addition, you need to be prepared for possible tax consequences. Sometimes, when you successfully get a debt lowered by $600 or more, your creditor will send you a Form 1099-C. This means that the amount forgiven is considered income and may add to your tax bill.
10 steps for negotiating with creditors
Attempting to negotiate with creditors can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Use these 10 tips to help you prepare a plan, handle the actual negotiations and be ready to follow up as necessary.
1. Be honest
It’s important to be honest as you negotiate with creditors. Saying you can make payments that you’re not able to follow through with or over exaggerating financial problems can actually make the situation worse. It can also make it more difficult to work together with the creditor for a mutually acceptable solution.
When you’re negotiating with creditors, know exactly how much you can pay and when. Be clear and factual when explaining factors, such as a layoff, that may have contributed to the issue.
2. Stay calm
It’s normal to be frustrated, worried and even angry if you’re in a position where debt collectors are calling, but it’s important to stay calm and professional when interacting with creditors.
For example, if you’re trying to get a creditor to remove a late payment from your report, you may remind them that you haven’t missed a payment before. Then, you can let them know that you were injured and unable to work for a few weeks, but you’re back to work now and future payments won’t be a problem.
Getting emotional can also indicate to creditors that you are in a desperate situation, and some may try to capitalize on this by being unwilling to negotiate or saying you have to make a payment before you’ve gotten the agreement in writing.
3. Have cash available
When you call a creditor to try to negotiate a debt settlement, it’s important to have the cash available right then. You’ll still want to wait to make a payment until you have the agreement in writing, but many creditors can send this via email instantly, which means you’ll need to be ready to pay soon thereafter.
Instead of giving creditors access to your banking information, consider using a prepaid card to make your payment or do a wire transfer.
4. Present a plan of action
Any time you try to negotiate with someone, it’s important to know exactly what you want out of the deal and what you’re willing to give, also known as the “terms” of the deal or settlement. Going into the negotiation with a plan shows the creditor that you’re serious about trying to settle, and it provides an instant starting point so you can get to a resolution faster. Knowing what you want also helps you stick to the plan if the creditor tries to get you to pay more or accept different terms.
5. Ask for modified loan terms
In some cases, you won’t be able to negotiate for a debt settlement. The creditor may be unable or unwilling to accept the settlement, or it may be something like a mortgage or student loan that isn’t eligible for settlement. In these cases, you can still try to negotiate certain aspects, such as interest rates or minimum payment amounts, or ask for a forbearance to help give you more control over your financial situation.
6. Cover worst-case scenarios
There are times when negotiations aren’t possible because you don’t have the money to pay. In these situations, the best thing to do is be honest with the creditor. Let them know that you want to pay but can’t and that you probably won’t be able to pay in the near future either.
Mentioning bankruptcy may help motivate the creditor, as they would rather get a little bit of the money than lose it all under the protection of a bankruptcy. They may be willing to accept a small amount of money instead of nothing at all.
7. Be persistent
Creditors can be difficult to negotiate with, and you may have to call multiple times and present your settlement offer only to have the creditor refuse to settle. Don’t give uyp and continue to be honest, courteous and matter-of-fact in all of your interactions. Also, don’t be afraid to call back and try again if the creditor refuses to negotiate the first time.
8. Keep a record
Always keep written records for every communication you have with a creditor. Record important details like the date, time and length of the call, the name of the person(s) you spoke to and general notes on the conversation.
9. Practice follow-through
This ties into the first point, but when you’re dealing with creditors, it’s important to always follow-through with what you say you are going to do. If you set up a payment plan, make sure to actually make the payments as promised. Creditors deal with people facing financial difficulties and strain on a daily basis, and they may be more willing to negotiate with those who are taking steps to help themselves.
10. Get professional help
While you can do everything that a credit counseling agency can do, this doesn’t mean that you should. Dealing with creditors requires a great deal of time and energy when it comes to making phone calls, dealing with paper trails and keeping records of who said what when. A professional company or attorney can sometimes help take some of the burden so you can focus on continuing to work toward a better future.
What if negotiation doesn’t work?
While negotiating with creditors can help in many situations, there will be times when it doesn’t work. Whether the creditor refuses to negotiate or your financial situation is dire enough that negotiations aren’t going to actually make a difference, there are other debt relief options, such as bankruptcy, that you may want to consider. Filing for bankruptcy is serious and is usually considered a “last-resort” option. If you think that your situation may require filing for bankruptcy, make sure to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can discuss the details of your case.
Reviewed by John Heath, Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.
Born and raised in Salt Lake City, John Heath earned his BA from the University of Utah and his Juris Doctor from Ohio Northern University. John has been the Directing Attorney of Lexington Law Firm since 2004. The firm focuses primarily on consumer credit report repair, but also practices family law, criminal law, general consumer litigation and collection defense on behalf of consumer debtors. John is admitted to practice law in Utah, Colorado, Washington D. C., Georgia, Texas and New York.
Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.
According to the FTC website “No one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report. The law allows you to ask for an investigation of information in your file that you dispute as inaccurate or incomplete.”
This is a message that is seemingly black and white on the surface. In fact, many critics of credit repair and credit repair law firms such as Lexington Law will try to use this message to imply that there is little that can be done about bad credit, that the only recourse for people with a bad credit score is to wait for their credit to improve on its own, and that it is a futile attempt and a waste of money to work with any credit repair company.
When you take time to research the credit reporting system and your rights to dispute the questionable negative information in your credit reports, you will find that there is much more ambiguity in the FTC quote than critics of credit repair would have you believe.
This primarily has to do with the concept of accurate vs. inaccurate when it comes to the items listed in your credit reports. When we typically think of these terms, we think of them according to the dictionary definitions. In the credit reporting world, however, these two words do not mean what people think they do. While they are not wholly redefined, the definitions of these two words as they are used in the Fair Credit Reporting Act are altered when they are applied to your credit reports.
When trying to define what is accurate when dealing with the items listed in your credit reports, it is helpful to identify those things that are not accurate.
To start with, there are items that are patently inaccurate or untimely. These are listings on your credit reports that belong to another person, are duplicate entries, are the result of identity theft, have been listed longer than 7 years, etc. Because of the nature of the credit reporting system, it is surprisingly common for these types of items to end up on your credit reports.
For many people, this is the only type of negative item they believe can be disputed and removed from a credit report. The truth is there are a number of other classifications of negative items on your credit reports that you have the right to dispute.
Along with disputing negative items that are patently inaccurate or untimely, you also have the right to dispute any item you feel is misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased or unclear (“questionable”). To get a better idea of what types of negative items fall into these categories, consider the following real life account from the book “Credit Revolution: Path of the Smart Consumer“:
Mr. Telford* subscribed to the Ditech mortgage payment service, which was offered to him when he initiated his mortgage, and which breaks his monthly mortgage payment into two semi-monthly payments. A slight change in the property taxes on the property caused an increase in the amount owed each month. This change was never communicated to the semi-monthly mortgage payment service. Therefore, each month, Mr. Telford was unknowingly paying slightly less than his full mortgage amount. He did not receive any notices reflecting this shortfall. Even though Mr. Telford was making nearly the complete mortgage payment through the automated service, his credit report showed that he wasn’t making his payment at all, due to the fact that the amount paid was insufficient. When Mr. Telford went to purchase a new home, he was surprised to discover that his credit report included many non-payments of his previous mortgage.
*Name has been changed
In this case, all of the negative listings on Mr. Telford’s credit reports are accurate when using the dictionary definition of the word because the listings correspond to something that actually happened. Mr. Telford was not making full payments on his mortgage on time. But fortunately for Mr. Telford, the legal interpretation of what is accurate and inaccurate on consumer credit reports is not as cut and dried.
Mr. Telford disputed the questionable negative items listed on his credit reports because he believed they were misleading. The negative items in his credit reports showed that he missed making mortgage payments when in fact he had completely complied with the terms of his loan agreement. Mr. Telford was still a responsible consumer although when he tried to purchase a new home, his credit score mislead lenders into thinking that he was a high credit risk.
Situations like this are not at all uncommon and are the reason why you are able to dispute any of the questionable negative items on your credit reports. So when you hear that no one can legally remove accurate and timely negative information from a credit report, remember that when it comes to your credit reports, accurate has a much different meaning that most people believe.
When it comes to shopping for the right loan, it makes sense that you’d want to do your research in order to score the best rate possible. And the Internet has made it easier than ever to do so. But before you start comparing loans, it’s important to understand the effect this could have on your credit.
And the answer isn’t as clear-cut as you might think.
Whether or not comparing loans will affect your credit score depends on whether a hard or soft inquiry is required.
Soft inquiries happen when a business pulls your basic credit information without your directly applying for anything — for instance, when credit card companies check to see if you prequalify for a card. Soft credit checks have no impact on your credit report.
Hard credit inquiries come whenever you directly apply for a loan or new line of credit, such as a mortgage, car loan, or new credit card. The lender pulls your complete credit report to determine whether you’re a safe borrowing candidate.
Since you took the steps to apply, hard inquiries are considered “authorized,” and they do end up on your credit report and affect your credit score. Luckily, if your credit is otherwise in good standing, the effect is fairly minimal; your credit score will only drop by a few points, and it usually bounces back from the hit within six months. (However, the effect may be more impactful if your credit isn’t as strong.)
When credit checks are required
Hard inquiries may not be required until you’re further into the loan process. Lenders can get an idea of what interest rate you’d qualify for by performing soft inquiries using basic information including your name and annual income. So if you’re shopping around, this is the best way to look at all of your options.
However, to get an official rate quote, you will have to directly apply for the loan, which will result in a hard inquiry.
But here’s the good news: if you submit multiple applications for the same type of loan (say, a car loan) over a short period of time (usually between 14 and 45 days), it’s not considered risky behavior because it’s evident to the credit bureaus that you’re simply looking for the best deal. As such, credit bureaus will often count these multiple applications as a single hard inquiry.
(Note: This isn’t the case for credit cards. Submitting multiple credit card applications over a short period could not only bring down your credit score, it could also make you look like a risky borrowing candidate to lenders.)
How to shop for loans
In order to avoid damaging your credit as you shop for loans, make sure you’re aware whether your credit is being submitted for a hard or soft inquiry. Many websites will let you know, but if you’re not sure, call the company’s customer service to ask.
Also, make sure you’re protecting your privacy. A secure Web page will begin with “https,” so if you’re entering your social security number or any other sensitive personal information, make sure to double-check for that protocol.
If you’re having trouble getting approved for a loan, it could be that you need to fix your credit. For credit help, consider speaking with a credit repair expert. Lexington Law offers the legal expertise to help you repair your credit and ensure that your credit report remains fair and accurate.
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Paying off your debts is a critical part of a healthy credit profile. Here’s what you need to know about how to find your debts.
It’s uncomfortable to admit, but it’s entirely possible that you have debts you didn’t even know about. Whether mail went missing or communication about medical debt got mixed up, it’s possible an account with your name on it is languishing somewhere in collections. Get some tips to find out all your debts so you can make educated decisions about how to clean up your credit history.
How to Find All Your Debts
Even if you keep meticulous records, it’s possible for some debts to have fallen through the cracks. And perhaps you know you owe a debt, but it’s been passed around between collection agencies so many times you’ve forgotten who currently owns the debt. Here’s how to find out which collection agency you owe or uncover debts you don’t know about.
1. Check Your Credit Reports
Our first tip for finding your hidden debts is to turn to your credit report. While not every debt is reported, many are. And if you’re in collections or have owed the debt for a while, chances are someone has placed a negative item on at least one of your credit reports.
The trick here is getting copies of all three of your credit reports from the major bureaus. Not all creditors report to all three, so TransUnion, for example, could have a detail that Equifax and Experian do not—and vice versa.
You can get one free copy of your credit report from each agency every year at AnnualCreditReport.com. (They’re available weekly for a limited time due to COVID-19.) But for those who really want to get a handle on who they owe and what’s on their report, a service such as ExtraCredit is a good choice.
ExtraCredit lets you see your credit reports from all three bureaus—anytime. The reports are pulled monthly. It also gives you regular updates on 28 of your FICO® scores, so you have a clear picture of what your credit history looks like to lenders. Plus, you can get rewards and offers for valuable credit services, including credit monitoring and credit cards.
2. Go Through Old and New Mail
Who among us hasn’t picked up the mail, only to put it in a stack by the front door and leave it there to languish for months? Life gets busy, and it can be tempting to slide unopened envelopes into a bin or drawer and forget about them. But mail can back up before you realize it, and you might miss a notice of a bill or debt.
Take some time to gather all the mail you have. Open it and sort it, carefully looking to see whether you need to take action on something or if you might owe someone money. Keep a notebook or computer nearby so you can make a list.
3. Listen to All Those Old Voicemails
Voicemail can back up just like snail mail. Many people never actually check their voicemail, assuming those who need them will call them back or text them.
Legitimate creditors and collections agencies should leave a voicemail, including contact information. They’ll also usually show up on your caller ID.
Clear out your old voicemail, listening to each one and making notes about it. Compare that information with the notes you got from your mail and what’s on your credit report to compile a master list of debt you might owe. Keep an ear open for potential debt collection scammers and do your research before following up with anyone.
4. Contact Creditors You Think You Owe
In some cases, you know you owe someone, but it’s been a while. You can contact the last creditor you remember and find out if they still own the debt or if they wrote it off and sold it to a collection agency. They should be able to confirm your debt and give you the name and contact information for the agency that they sold the debt to, if applicable.
What to Do After You Find Your Debt
Once you go through a debt finder process and figure out who you owe money to, you have some decisions to make. Here are three tips for dealing with debt once you find it.
1. Decide Whether You Can—or Will—Pay
You might rush to pay off old debts thinking it will boost your credit, but that may not happen. Yes, the debt should then be marked as paid on your credit report. But the damage from the late payments and collection accounts could still linger.
So, you need to consider seriously how you can and will deal with old debt. If you simply can’t afford to pay, talk to a legal professional about your options, rights, and what consequences could come from paying or not paying old debt. For example, if you start making payments, the statute of limitations could restart and leave you at risk of lawsuits and legal collection activity much longer.
2. Consider Credit Repair Services
One result of digging through credit reports and chasing down old debt can be finding errors or collections you don’t actually owe. If you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, you might consider working with a credit repair service.
Credit repair services work on your behalf to dispute inaccurate information with the credit bureaus. You can actually do credit repair yourself, but if you don’t have time or just know you aren’t going to follow up, you might get more value by paying professionals to handle it for you.
3. Keep Up with Credit Reports and Debts in the Future
Finally, once you do the work to find your debt and clean it up, keep up with your credit reports in the future. While every single debt may not appear on your credit report—or appear right away—staying on top of your credit report ensures you’re aware of most of them. ExtraCredit gives you the access to your accounts that you need to keep track of your debts and your credit score.
Bonus Tip: Once you’ve found all your debts, use a debt management app like Tally to keep track of them moving forward so you’ll never have to wonder about them again.
TL;DR: ExtraCredit Could Help You Identify and Manage Your Debts
If you’ve lost track of your debts and what you owe to who, it can take some work and time to track everything down. But once you do, stay ahead of these things with help from ExtraCredit.
Why You Should Not Buy a Credit Privacy Number (CPN) – SmartAsset
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If you’re looking to repair your credit, you may have come across websites that advertise a credit privacy number, credit protection number or CPN. These numbers are nine digits like a Social Security number (SSN), and sellers claim that you can use them instead of your SSN. However, these CPNs are often actual SSNs lifted from real people, reportedly children, prison inmates and the deceased – and you can never legally buy a new SSN. In other words, a CPN is no solution to your credit rating problem. Under no circumstances should you try to buy a CPN.
Why a CPN is No Credit Fix
Websites have sprung up all over the internet, offering CPNs to people with bad credit or low credit scores. They advertise that this number can serve as a “get out of jail free” card for your bad credit. In theory, you can use a CPN instead of your SSN on credit applications to hide the poor credit associated with your personal SSN. If you have bad credit but still need a credit card or loan, this can seem like the solution, assuming you can pay anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
That price might seem worth it for a chance to wipe the slate clean. However, these offers are essentially a big scam. The CPNs you can buy online are not legally assigned credit protection numbers. Instead, they are usually stolen Social Security numbers, taken from children, the deceased or inmates.
Also, using a purchased CPN puts you in some hot water, too. Credit agencies can easily spot discrepancies if you try to use a CPN on an application instead of your SSN. Not only will this fail to help your credit, but it’s also committing fraud which is punishable by jail time.
How to Avoid CPN Scams
If you’re dealing with some bad credit, don’t turn to a CPN. Only scammers sell CPNs, and they in turn may cheat you out of your personal information as well as hundreds or thousands of dollars. Using a purchased CPN can also put you in jail, even if you didn’t know the number was fraudulent. This is why it’s important to be aware of this popular scam.
If you really need a CPN or new SSN, it will be free. The process will go through the Social Security Administration Office, since a new number would be tied to your old SSN. That said, it is very hard to qualify to receive a new number. Having bad credit is never a qualifying reason.
How to Get a Legal CPN
With so many fraudulent websites and companies trying to sell you a way to reset your credit, it’s hard to know how to get a legal CPN. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Some experts say that you can speak with an attorney to obtain a legal CPN. The attorney can then contact the Social Security Administration Office on your behalf. However, others maintain that all CPNs are illegal.
Generally, it seems that you cannot get a legal CPN unless you actually need one. These situations include celebrities, government officials and people under witness protection. You can also apply in other specific instances, like if you’re a victim of abuse, stalking or identity theft. A real CPN would be attached to your SSN, so it’s still not an escape from the credit tied to your SSN.
You may also stumble upon offers to obtain an EIN, or Employer Identification Number. The IRS does issue EINs, but only businesses can use them for business costs. This means that you cannot legally obtain an EIN as an individual looking to improve your credit. You also cannot make up a home business, apply for an EIN and use that new number for a credit reset. It is a federal crime to obtain an EIN under false pretenses. In any case, the credit profile for your EIN is still tied to your SSN.
You shouldn’t ever, under any circumstances, try to purchase a CPN. These offers are fraudulent and don’t provide any credit repair or relief. At the very least, buying a CPN wastes money you should put towards repaying your loans in the first place. At worst, you could go to jail for fraud. There are better, more constructive ways to repair your credit. If you’re truly in a situation that calls for a CPN, contact your lawyer for assistance.
Tips on Rebuilding Your Credit
Of course, the best way to legally clean up your credit is to pay back your debts and improve your credit practices. A good place to start is to pay off your credit card debt with the highest interest.
Sometimes you’ll just have to wait for your bad history to fall off your record. Generally, negative info stays on your credit report for seven years. If you can’t get a debt collection removed from your credit report, for example, it’ll stay there for seven years. However, as time goes on, the toll it takes on your report lessens.
Don’t go it alone. If you have a good income, but you’re just bad at managing your money, a financial advisor can help. With guidance, you can make smarter choices – and even start growing your wealth. To find an advisor, use our free, no-obligation matching tool. It will connect you with up to three advisors in your area.
Danielle Klimashousky Danielle Klimashousky is a freelance writer who covers a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset. She is an expert on topics including credit cards and home buying. Danielle has a BA in English from Wesleyan University.
Article originally published September 1st, 2016. Updated October 29th, 2018.
It’s a common question around these parts: how do I fix my credit? And, while credit scores do have a lot of nuances, the answer is actually pretty straightforward: pay all your bills by their due dates, keep your debt levels low, add a mix of accounts as you can afford it and voila! — your credit score should rise steadily over time.
Still, for people plagued with bad credit or someone looking to get the absolute best rates on a new loan, waiting it out can seem like an unattractive option — and so the question gets a little more pointed: how do I fix my credit fast?
Truth be told, there are no guarantees when it comes to getting a quick credit boost. Exact point increases will vary depending on your full credit profile and, even if you’re teetering toward top-tier credit, your score’s beholden to a lender’s schedule when it comes to reporting new information to the major credit bureaus.
Most creditors provide updates to the big three bureaus every month — meaning, yes, you can boost your credit in 30 days, but any shorter timeframe is admittedly a long shot.
Still, there are few steps you can take to try to raise your credit score in the short-term. Here’s a breakdown of ten of your best options.
Credit utilization ratio— how much debt you’re carrying vs. your total available credit — is a huge part of credit scores, second only to payment history. But while you can’t just erase a missed payment from your credit file (most negative information takes seven years to age off of your credit reports), you can pretty readily boost your utilization rate by wiping out big credit card debts.
Experts generally recommend keeping the amount of debt you owe collectively and on individual cards below at least 30% and ideally 10% of your credit limit(s).
So, if you’re close to maxing out one card and/or you’re carrying big balances on all of them, paying those debts down can result in a fast boost. Just be sure to pay charges off by your statement’s billing date as opposed to their actual due date because that’s when most creditors will update account information with the credit bureaus.
And, of course, refrain from making any new purchases once the debt’s been eradicated.
Essentially, a different solution to the same problem — you may be able to improve your utilization rate by getting an issuer to give you a higher limit on one of your existing cards. Just be sure not to use up that extra credit. Otherwise, this move can have the opposite effect.
And be prepared to see an initial ding to your score — creditors sometimes pull your credit when you ask for a limit increase, and that could generate a hard inquiry on your credit reports and cost you a few points.
You might easily make up those points and then some, however, if the credit limit increase is large enough.
Errors on credit reports are more common than you may think, so it’s important not to simply take a bad score at face value — particularly because getting an error removed can be one of the faster ways to fix your credit.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that the bureaus investigate and remove items deemed to be errors within 30 days of a dispute being filed.
That’s why it’s a good idea to pull your credit reports — you can do so for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com — and routinely review them for any inaccuracies that may be unduly weighing your credit down.
Once you receive a copy of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus- Experian, Equifax, and Transunion, you can take a closer look at each item that is on there.
You have already read about getting an error removed, and this is a good step to take, but don’t stop there. Look for accounts you have on your credit profile that show late or missing payments and verify the accuracy of each item. If you see something that is wrong, send your dispute so that the problem can be investigated.
Yes, you may be paying your balances each month, and you are paying them on time, but you need to keep in mind that your creditors are reporting your balances to the credit bureaus only once per month.
If you have a credit card, for example, that you are constantly maxing out and reaching your limit on throughout the month, the statement you receive will show the balance. You make the payment, but since it was reported only once that month, it is basically showing that you are using 100% of the available balance on that credit card.
If you send in payments twice a month, however, you are essentially breaking up your payments, and you are effectively keeping your overall credit card balances much lower than if you continue to only pay once per month.
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If you want a nice boost to your credit and you want to help improve your credit utilization ratio, you can consider opening a new credit account. This is especially helpful if you find that your current credit utilization ratio is much too high.
Opening the new account adds to the available credit you have and will show that with the new balance, you are using less. However, this is not a good option if you are already juggling multiple accounts. You may end up hurting your credit instead of helping it if you try to stretch your credit too thin.
Have you taken a closer look at the current debt you owe? Have you considered negotiating the debt you have in collections to rebuild your credit? Many collection agencies will be willing to negotiate because they really won’t be losing any money on the debt if you are able to settle for less because they most likely bought the debt account for a minimal price.
It never hurts to open a negotiation to try and settle the debt you have for a smaller and more manageable amount on your credit accounts. If you find that you are unsure about this process, or if you don’t know if it is something you should do, you can always seek the help of a credit counselor to help educate you on the process and offer suggestions as to what you can do otherwise.
Another fast way to boost your credit could be to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit account. For this to be a viable and recommended option, you will need to find someone you trust, such as a close friend or relative, that is financially responsible and is willing to do this for you to help improve your credit rating.
As an authorized user on someone else’s account, their account will still show up on your credit report, and their payment history, credit utilization ratio, and credit card balances will become part of your credit history and may award you with a good credit score. Not all credit card companies report authorized users however, so you will want to make sure that if you do become an authorized user, that the account information will show up on your credit reports.
In addition to paying on your accounts twice a month, you should also make sure to make your payments on time every month. Your payment history makes up approximately 35% of your FICO score.
If you find it hard to remember your due dates, consider placing your accounts on auto pay with reminders so it reminds you that the payment is coming due and it will then automatically make the payment for you.
Finally, make sure you are mixing up your credit choices instead of focusing on using just your credit cards, for example. Using different types of credit can boost your score fast – even though it wouldn’t be a significant boost.
If you need an appliance, instead of using your credit card, you should consider a small personal loan instead. It shows that you can effectively and responsibly utilize different types of credit.
One of the biggest hits to your credit is a bankruptcy and people are often anxious and ready to begin boosting their credit following their bankruptcy. In theory, someone looking for credit after a bankruptcy may actually appear to be less of a risk because they are not able to qualify for Chapter 7 for another eight years.
Following your bankruptcy, it is recommended that you make all your payments on time, learn how to manage your money efficiently, and find ways to reestablish your credit without trying to borrow money too soon and this could prove to be the fastest way to build credit.
You should also keep a very close eye on your credit reports and credit scores from the major credit bureaus and look for any errors or inaccuracies including any mistakes with your address, employment, or personal contact information.
The best way to start improving credit following a bankruptcy is to open a secured credit card account and make your first deposit into the account.
Although these ten strategies are a good start to finding the fastest way to boost your credit, you need to remember that it still may take several months for the credit reporting agencies to report the improvements on your credit report.
While they may be “fast” methods, they are certainly not miracle credit cures, so you need to have a fair amount of patience when it comes to seeing the positive effects on your credit report.
Be sure to dispute any errors you find with the credit bureau in question (you go here to learn how). You can also view two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com as you monitor your progress toward building better credit.