- Understand your current credit situation
- Take steps to improve your credit
- Monitor your progress
If you’re trying to rebuild credit after a financial setback, these tips can help you get started on the right track.
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Understand your current credit situation
Your credit score is a number that represents your creditworthiness. It’s used by lenders to determine whether you qualify for a loan and how much interest you’ll pay. A higher score indicates lower risk and vice versa. If you have a low credit score, it may be difficult to qualify for loans or lines of credit, or you may be offered less favorable terms.
Get a copy of your credit report
The first step is to get a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus. A mistake on just one report could cost you. You’re entitled to one free report a year from each bureau through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you’ve been denied credit, you can get a free report within 60 days of the denial.
Check each report carefully for errors. Common mistakes include:
-Incorrect personal information, like your name, address, Social Security number or birth date
-Incorrect accounts or account information
-Incorrect credit history, like late payments that are really on-time, or vice versa
-Accounts that don’t belong to you
If you find any errors, dispute them with the credit bureau using the instructions on the report.
Check your credit score
Your credit score is a number that lenders use to decide whether or not to lend to you. It’s also used to determine the interest rate you’ll pay on a loan. The higher your score, the lower the interest rate you’ll likely pay.
You have three different credit scores, one from each of the major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. They’re all calculated using information in your credit report, but they may not be identical.
Your credit score may be different from one lender to another because each lender has its own criteria for what it considers to be a good score. And each lender may pull your score from a different credit bureau. That’s why it’s important to check all three of your scores before you apply for a loan.
The most widely used credit scores are FICO® scores, which were created by the Fair Isaac Corporation. FICO® scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher your score, the better.
Take steps to improve your credit
A financial setback can happen to anyone, and if it does, it can be difficult to get your credit back on track. However, there are steps you can take to rebuild your credit and improve your credit score. In this article, we’ll go over some things you can do to rebuild your credit after a financial setback.
Pay bills on time
One of the best things you can do to rebuild your credit is to pay your bills on time. This includes both your credit card and loan payments. Late payments can stay on your credit report for up to seven years, so it’s important to make sure you keep up with all of your payments. You can set up automatic payment reminders to help you stay on top of your bills.
Reduce your credit card balances
One important factor in your credit score is credit utilization, or how much of your available credit you’re using. Utilization makes up 30% of your FICO® Score☉ , so it’s important to keep it in check.
If you’re trying to rebuild your credit, one of the best things you can do is keep your credit card balances low. Ideally, you should keep them below 30% of your credit limit, but the lower the better.
If your balances are currently above 30%, paying them down can have a big impact on your credit score. You may even see a boost in your score as you reduce your balances.
Consider a secured credit card
A secured credit card is one way to rebuild your credit after a financial setback. With a secured card, you deposit money into a savings account, and that deposit secures your line of credit. Secured cards are an option for people with bad credit or no credit history.
Here are some things to consider if you’re thinking about a secured credit card:
-Make sure the issuer reports to the major credit bureaus. Otherwise, your payment history won’t help improve your credit score.
-Avoid cards with high fees. Look for cards with annual fees of $50 or less. Also, beware of application fees, monthly service charges and other fees.
-Shop around for the best rates and terms. Compare several secured cards before you apply to make sure you get the best deal.
With a secured card, you can begin rebuilding your credit by making on-time payments and managing your credit limit wisely.
Monitor your progress
If you have recently been through a financial setback, it is important to take some time to assess the damage and make a plan to rebuild your credit. The first step is to get a clear understanding of your current financial situation. This means pulling your credit report and score and taking a close look at your credit utilization, outstanding debts, and payment history. Once you have a good understanding of where you stand, you can start to look for ways to improve your credit.
Review your credit report regularly
Your credit report is a key tool in monitoring your credit health. Review it regularly to ensure accuracy and to look for signs of identity theft. You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. You can request your report online at AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
When you review your report, look for:
-Inaccurate personal information, such as your name, address, Social Security number or birth date
-Inaccurate account information, such as your account numbers, balances, payment history or collection actions
-Fraudulent activity, such as accounts you didn’t open or inquiries from creditors you didn’t authorize
Check your credit score periodically
It’s important to check your credit score periodically to monitor your progress as you work to rebuild your credit. You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit reporting agencies once every 12 months. Reviewing your credit report will help you identify errors and potential signs of identity theft.
If you see anything on your credit report that looks incorrect, you can file a dispute with the credit bureau. Keep in mind that it may take some time for the dispute to be processed and for any corrections to show up on your credit report.
In addition to checking your credit reports, you can also use a credit monitoring service to track your progress. Credit monitoring can alert you to changes in your credit score and flag potential signs of identity theft.