- 1 The True Cost of Repairing Your Credit
- 2 How Do You Know If You Have Bad Credit?
- 3 The Road to Repair
- 4 Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair
- 5 Calculating the Cost
- 6 Conclusion
The True Cost of Repairing Your Credit
Good credit is essential for modern life. It doesn’t just help you get a credit card or a loan: It demonstrates you pay your debts, bills, and any money that you owe. It is a mark of financial trustworthiness and character. Without it, you may not be able to secure that mortgage you need or rent the apartment you want.
Having bad credit then becomes a large, awkward stumbling block that can be challenging and nearly impossible to negotiate.
While it isn’t something that you can remedy overnight, it is possible to fix bad credit. You can rebuild it over the long term by improving your personal finance, catching up on bills, and paying debts.
Here, we will focus on another route to improving your rating: credit repair.
Credit repair generally involves fixing your rating in any way, often by disputing errors on credit reports. In this article, we delve into the process involved in repairing your credit rating and how much it will cost.
How Do You Know If You Have Bad Credit?
Every year, you can request a free credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. This report will detail your borrowing history and describe your credit standing. You can obtain your report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
If you want to manage your credit, then you need to monitor it, too. Ordering a credit report is a vital first step.
Other indications may come before that, though. Being rejected for a loan or credit card application, targeted by offers of subprime credit, or utility accounts requesting a deposit are all signs that you have bad credit. At this stage, it is worth ordering a credit report.
The Road to Repair
In theory, there is nothing involved in repairing your credit that you cannot do on your own or for free. The only cost you incur may well be the cost of postage. But given the research and time involved, you may want to invest in some outside help.
How much does credit repair cost? The answer depends on the remedies you choose.
Do It Yourself
You can repair your credit on your own for free. All the information you need to do this is out there and freely available. It just requires a lot of research and the time to bring it all together. It also requires a great deal of patience to apply what you learn.
As mentioned above, you can secure a report on your credit history for free from three national reporting agencies. Once you’ve got your report, you want to make sure you are up to speed with all your credit card bills and loans. If you’re not, you’ll need to work out how long it will take you to get up to speed with them all.
When will you be able to start making all your payments on time? This timeliness matters. The firm that issues your credit will report this information to the reporting bureaus, and paying your bills on time will stop your rating from dropping any lower. This stage is essential to do first because the next step won’t help if you continue to be late on payments elsewhere.
Next, go through your report carefully and look for any errors. Keep an eye out for:
- Inaccurately labeled missed payments
- Fraudulent accounts
- Duplicate accounts
- Inaccurate amounts owed
These kinds of mistakes can creep in, so make sure to request and check reports from all three bureaus.
If or when you find something erroneous, dispute it. Bureaus have online forms you can use to make a dispute to remove errors. Some financial advisors recommend mailing letters rather than going through the online process, as they believe this has a higher success rate.
This process can take a while, but it is free and certainly worthwhile if you do not need to repair your credit in a hurry. You will only incur costs if you decide to make a dispute using physical mail.
Software is a middle solution between doing it yourself and employing a company to do it for you. The cost depends on what you want and what you get from each service.
Less expensive software costs as little as $30 or $14 a month. It will provide you with very minimal service, but it will be enough to help. This program should include a sample dispute letter and advice on how to handle the disputes you are making.
If you want more from your software, you will have to shell out several hundred dollars, but you will receive numerous resources. Included in the more in-depth software are:
- Sample letters for a variety of dispute situations
- Notifications on the process of your dispute
- Regular updates on your score as it changes
The most expensive software will sometimes give you access to a credit expert.
Which to choose depends on your situation. Investing in high-end software may help you repair your credit more quickly. However, it can seem like a ton of money when you are trying to save and fix your credit. Consider less expensive software if this task isn’t so urgent.
Professional Repair Services
Hiring somebody to do it for you is the most expensive, but it is also the closest to guaranteeing success in good time. The best credit repair companies do the same things that you’d do on your own, but you get a licensed attorney who specializes in credit disputes. This option saves you the tiring work of doing it yourself while leaving the process to an expert.
There tend to be two costs involved: A set-up fee, which could cost up to $100, and monthly fees costing between $60 and $100 for the time that you have enrolled with the firm. You pay until you are satisfied with their program.
The firm will provide an array of services and tactics to improve your credit standing, including:
- Audit your report
- Make disputes on your behalf
- Monitor your credit score
- Provide regular updates on your rating
- Refer you to lenders and creditors
- Protect you from identity theft
- Coach you on any long-term goals
It is essential to do your research when looking for the best repair services, as there are lots of dodgy firms and scams out there. The Credit Repair Organizations Act protects consumers by requiring companies to provide correct information about their services.
Is It Worth It? Do Repair Companies Work?
The decision to repair your credit is undoubtedly worthwhile, giving you better chances when applying for loans, mortgages, credit cards — you name it. Failing to improve your rating can have severe consequences in the long term.
It is slightly more difficult assessing whether it is worth hiring a company or paying out for software, though, given that you can, in theory, do everything yourself.
Credit repair companies do work in many instances, but you shouldn’t assume that they will improve your credit report immediately. The main benefit of hiring a firm is that they should get to work more quickly than you would be able, and the firm may also offer additional services for securing good or excellent credit (alongside repairing your bad credit).
When your credit is dipping, you can start to feel the burn. Sometimes it happens slowly, over time, and sometimes it can hit you all of a sudden, as a result of one misstep. Either way, fixing the damage needs to start as soon as possible if you want to make a speedy recovery.
When your credit is bad, your lifestyle can suffer as a result. Looking to buy a home? Those with worse credit end up cheated out of fair loans and mortgages. You end up with a massive downpayment and terrible interest rate. Bad credit can keep you from renting the apartment you dreamed of, getting the phone plan you hoped for, and even receiving the best medical coverage. But having bad credit doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it forever.
Credit repair can be fast and straightforward. Even better, it can also be cheap! There are tons of ways to fix your credit score affordably. Use this guide to find out your options for cheap credit repair and free yourself from the burden of low credit.
Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair
Fixing your credit score can seem daunting at first. You might be thinking, “What do I know about credit repair?” Well, it turns out you don’t need an expert to boost your score. There are tons of at-home ways to increase your score for free.
Use the Fair Credit Reporting Act
Have you ever seen your score drop for seemingly no reason? This issue happens all the time, and you have the right to dispute it. The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles everyone to an accurate report. This provision means that if you find your credit report to have errors, you are legally within your rights to dispute the report.
Filing this dispute is 100% free of charge, and all you need to validate your claims are evidence and information. Attach forms or documents that prove some aspects of your credit report are outdated or fallacious. Within 30 days, you should hear back about your dispute.
If There Are Multiple Errors
If your credit report houses more than one issue, you’ll have to file a dispute for each item separately. You may have one claim settled favorably and another in dispute. You won’t get a blanket answer that overlooks the intricacies of the claim. You also need to file separately for each credit bureau that has reported the error.
The great thing about filing a dispute is that it is free. There are no fees or costs associated with the filing.
Calculating the Cost
When calculating the real cost — or indeed the actual benefit — bear in mind what you need, and when.
If all you want from a firm is credit repair, make sure that you stop paying for services once you are satisfied they have done that. For many firms, services to actively improve your rating are also part of the sign-up contract.
Ultimately, the cost of credit repair and whether hiring a company, like Sky Blue Credit Repair (our #1 recommendation), is worth it depends on your situation. If you don’t plan to apply for a loan or mortgage any time soon, then you don’t need to hire a firm. You can work away at repairing your credit yourself at no cost — everything is available to you.
However, if you have your eye on a house or a new car, or desperately need a new line of credit, investing in credit-repair software or hiring a firm will be in your interest. Paying a few hundred dollars now could save you thousands on interest charges. Repairing your credit quickly with the help of a firm could be the difference between securing a mortgage on the house you want and not.
Beware Predatory Firms
While the CROA protects and legally guarantees firms offer accurate information, there are still bad actors out there.
If a firm makes the following claims, it is more than likely a scam:
- Promises to remove accurate items from your credit report
- Guarantees to improve your credit score
- Absence of a written contract
If you’re considering hiring a credit repair company then these are the questions you need to ask them first.
The cost — and value — of credit repair is subjective. If you’re buying a house or car soon, paying out on software or hiring a firm may end up being a net gain in the long run. If you have more flexibility with time, and you don’t foresee any significant purchases, then a DIY fix may be better for you. But ultimately, no matter which option you choose, credit repair is worth it.
Matt is the founder of CreditInformative.com and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) with a major in Finance and Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) with a major in Economics and History. Matt’s advice has been featured on Business Insider, Fox Business, Newsday, Money Under 30 and many other publications.