A bad credit score can keep you from getting a loan, renting an apartment and even getting a good insurance rate. The good news is that it’s never too late to work on improving your credit. But first, you’ll need to understand what makes a good or bad credit score so you can get on track to fix it.
A credit score is a three-digit number, typically between 300 and 850, that’s based on information in your credit report. Lenders use it to determine how likely you are to pay back the money they lend to you. The best way to repair bad credit is to establish a record of on-time payments and manage your debt responsibly, but the process can take time.
While it can be tempting to work with a credit repair company, it’s important to know what they do and how much it costs. Many of these companies are scams, and there are ways to clean up your credit report for free.
Using a credit repair service can cost you $50 to $100 per month, but there are many other options. For example, you can hire a credit counselor to help you change your habits and improve your financial situation. They can also help you get to the root of your problem, such as overspending or living beyond your means.
There are other ways to reduce your debt and build a healthy credit score, including creating a budget, making small payments on outstanding balances and lowering your credit utilization. A common mistake people make is closing credit cards after paying them off, but this can hurt your score unless you have another card to replace it. It’s usually better to keep credit accounts open and make the minimum payment on them to maintain a low credit utilization rate.
Other factors that affect your credit score include having a variety of accounts and a long history with them, as well as making on-time payments and not opening new cards too often. You can also try to raise your credit score by disputing errors on your report. Credit reporting agencies, like Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, are legally required to correct any inaccurate or incomplete information in your file.
If you find mistakes, you can dispute them online or through the credit bureaus’ phone numbers. The credit bureaus will notify the creditor or financial company that submitted the information and request it be removed from your report.
The most significant contributor to your credit score is your payment history. Missed or late payments can drop your score significantly, and you should avoid this at all costs. However, if you are struggling to make your payments on time, consider setting up automatic payments or setting up reminders. Lastly, it’s worth noting that your rent and utility bills can also impact your credit score if the organizations report late payments to the credit bureaus. These can be harder to repair than credit card and loan payments, but it’s still critical to pay them on time. bad credit fixing