If you’re on a list that targets people with credit challenges then you’ve likely been pitched products that are promising to boost your credit score. The ads read:
A credit report contains information about you such as your loan paying history and the status of your credit accounts, past and present. Lenders and potential creditors use your credit report to determine their lending and credit decisions about you. Your credit score is a numerical value and is a snapshot of your credit report. The scale is a follows:
Not only does your score determine whether you can potentially get a loan, but it also determines what the interest rate will be. Given this information, products that promise to boost one’s credit score by 100 points overnight becomes quite an attractive offer. It means your credit score can go from fair to good within twenty-four hours. But is this possible?
“Lose twenty pounds in seven days!”
“Get your college degree in three months and study only thirty minutes a day.”
Would you even consider paying anyone who made these outlandish claims? Of course, not. Why? You didn’t gain twenty pounds in a week and it took twelve years to get your high school diploma. A low credit score doesn’t happen overnight and neither will raise a score. Let me say this now. Increasing your score is TOTALLY possible and people do it all the time but it will take attention, time, and dedication.
The big three credit bureaus (Experion, Trans Union, and Equifax) all offer credit boosting products for a price, and their results sound a lot more reasonable. I’ve seen testimonials of growth from 8 to 17 points within thirty days. When you pay off an account that’s in arrears or successfully dispute an error on your report, you can expect this to happen. Debt management plans, creating and following budgets, paying bills on time, and properly using a secured credit card, will all have a positive impact on your credit score, but over time. Extreme immediate results should be viewed with suspicion, and as you have probably already guessed, these companies use dubious tactics and their services usually come with a pretty hefty price.
Some of the schemes that have been used include building new credit with another person’s social security number; disputing every item on the credit report, whether accurate or not; not paying debts that are in collections. Invariably, the more you want to boost your score, the more money you will have to pay to these companies, which is counter-intuitive because you could use the money to pay down your debt.
The same way eating healthy foods and exercising consistently will impact your weight, some financial best practices will boost your credit score over time. The best part is that you can do them yourself.
1. Get your FREE credit report every year from each of the big three credit bureaus by going to the website annualcreditreport.com or sending a request in writing to each bureau using this form.*
2. Pay down your debt using a short-term/long-term strategy. Pay off the cards (or debts) with the highest percentage rates, or the ones that take up more of your credit utilization rate.
3. Monitor your credit score to make sure it’s going up. You may have to pay a small fee for your score but check to see if your bank or credit union offers it for free.
4. If you’re able to, make extra payments on your debt. This might be an initial sacrifice but in the end, it will be beneficial to your financial wellness.
5. Keep your credit card balances low and don’t use them if you don’t have to.
6. Keep track of when your bills are due and pay them on time. A best practice is to use automatic deductions, so that way you’ll ensure your debts will be paid on time.
The bottom line is this. There are no magic bullets to fixing credit but with a sound plan, you can move toward financial wellness. Also, you do not have to walk this journey alone. If you need help with your finances we at CESI are here to help.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
CESI is NOT A LOAN COMPANY