Living with debt or bad credit can be very stressful, but help is closer than you realize. Improving your credit rating requires that you take positive action and change your attitude toward money. Follow these steps and be on the road to debt recovery.
Request a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. If there is an error, contact the bureau and ask it to fix the mistake. It might also help to contact the creditor who reported the error. Some creditors will contact the bureau on your behalf.
If the bad marks on your credit report result from outstanding debts, repay them as quickly as possible. Pay off those with the highest interest rates first.
If your debts are overwhelming, contact a nonprofit credit-counseling organization to work out a debt-consolidation plan. A counselor will help you consolidate your debts and will contact your debtors on your behalf to reduce or eliminate finance charges. This can reduce your monthly payments by up to 40 percent.
Close all but one of your credit card accounts and cut up the cards to stop using them. Sell valuables or liquidate assets that will help you repay your debts. Buy the bare essentials (food and gas) and use the rest of your earnings to pay off your consolidated debts.
Work with your credit counselor to repay all of your debts. Meanwhile, live a life that will help you re-establish good credit. Pay rent and utilities or mortgages promptly, keep the same residence and job, maintain savings and checking accounts, set a budget and stick to it. Showing stability makes creditors see you in a positive light.
Once you have repaid your debts, work to build a good credit history. Reduce your credit limit. Pay your balance monthly. Try not to use credit for non-essential items. Request a low interest rate credit card. If you must make a charge for a large item, set up a repayment plan to pay more than the minimum each month.
If you don’t qualify for a regular credit card, apply for a secured one. With a secured credit card, you fund an account up front and then “charge” expenses on it. This card will show up as a credit card on your credit report and, if used responsibly, can help you build a good credit history.
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