It can take months and even years to rebuild your credit, depending on how bad it is. At the same time, you don’t have to spend money on credit repair services because you can repair your credit yourself for free.
How to Fix Your Credit in 5 Steps
Your credit isn’t going to improve overnight. You have to be patient by taking small steps over time that can fix your credit. If you’re not sure where to start in the credit-rebuilding process, follow these five steps:
- Check your credit reports and score – The first step is to know where your credit score stands and what’s on your credit reports. You can get a free copy of your reports from the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – every 12 months at www.annualcreditreport.com. Meanwhile, there are many ways to get your credit score. Keep in mind that most auto lenders look at your auto-enhanced FICO score, and you can go to www.myFICO.com and pay a small fee to get it.
- Dispute any errors – Once you get your credit reports, double check for any errors. If you spot something incorrect, you should dispute the error with the respective credit reporting agency. The agency must investigate your dispute within 30 days. If they fail to give you a plan of action letter within 30 days, the entry is automatically removed.
- Make sure all bills are paid on time – Your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO credit score. If you continue to pay all your bills on time, you should see your credit score improve over time.
- Pay down credit card balances – In addition to paying all your bills, make sure you pay down any outstanding balances on credit cards. Your amounts owed makes up another 30 percent of your FICO score, so keeping balances low is another important way to improve credit. A good tip: set aside a budget that’s dedicated to paying off outstanding balances. This way, you can chip away at it, instead of worrying about paying it in one lump sum.
- Apply for new credit with caution – It may seem counterintuitive, but applying for a new line of credit, such as a loan or credit card, can really improve your credit and increase your credit mix while decreasing your credit utilization. The trick is to pay off the balance each month.
What about Credit Repair Organizations?
If all of this sounds too stressful, you could use a credit repair organization to handle cleaning up your credit reports. These companies do charge a fee, and sometimes aren’t very reliable. If you want to use a credit repair service, make sure you research the company, review the contract and fine print before signing, and make sure the company is bonded (has money to protect consumers from fraud). If you don’t feel comfortable with the service, trust your instincts and move on. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your credit.
The Bottom Line
Whether you like it or not, credit is king and a big factor in determining whether or not you can finance something big like a vehicle or house. You also don’t need perfect credit to get approved for a car loan, as there are dealers that can work with you to get the financing you need. Where are these special financing dealerships, you ask? Auto Credit Express can do the searching for you.
We work with a large network of special finance dealers that have the lending resources to help people in many types of credit situations. Our network is nationwide, so we can help you find a dealership in or near your local area. Don't wait any longer to get the new vehicle you need, simply fill out our auto loan request form, and we'll get to work matching you with a dealer!