1. Get all the facts
Once a year, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus, either online, by phone or by mail. And you should.
When it arrives, you should read each credit report carefully. Mistakes happen all the time, and it’s your reputation (and score) on the line — so do your own due diligence and investigate. Make sure there are no mistakes on your report, like old debts you’ve already paid down or erroneous “missed payments.”
If there are mistakes on your credit report, fret not. It’s an easy fix. You can dispute the mistake by calling up the creditor, who then has 30 days to investigate. If it’s deemed to be an error, it’ll fall off your credit report within a month.
2. Call a truce with your creditors
Let’s say a bill got lost in the mail and you accidentally missed a payment. Or life happened, and you weren't able to make ends meet one month. Nobody's perfect — we've all been there.
All you have to do is write a “goodwill letter” explaining to the creditor why you weren’t able to make your payment on time. Your letter should be concise and to the point, and most importantly, should make a strong case for why you deserve their help.
The creditor isn’t obligated to remove the blemish, but then again, it’s more likely to work than doing nothing at all. So why not take a chance?
If a goodwill letter doesn’t pan out, don’t sweat it. Missed payments won’t stay on your credit report forever, and a couple bumpy spots in your history aren’t the end of the world.
3. Get the experts on the case
It’s important to keep in mind that your credit report won't come with a credit score, but don’t worry — that won’t cost you a penny either. Companies like Credit Sesame will provide you with a free credit score.
More importantly, they will also give you access to their (also free) credit monitoring service. This will let you view your credit reports and scores whenever you want, including all accounts where you owe money.
You can use this and Credit Sesame's personalized suggestions to plan out which accounts to pay down first and start on your custom roadmap to get out of debt and back on the right track.
Credit Sesame will also assess your credit report and walk you through a checklist of steps you can take today to improve your credit score. Signing up takes less than two minutes, and some Credit Sesame customers have even seen credit score improvements of almost 300 points.
You can continue to use Credit Sesame to keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable. And, hey, it's kind of fun watching your credit score react to all your hard work.
4. Ask someone else to pay your bills this month
Let’s face it — your credit card company isn’t doing you any favors. Those insanely high interest rates are serious motivation killers, and so is trying to keep up with a pile of bills.
You could keep trying to ascend the mountain of debt on your own. Or you could ask Fiona to help you consolidate your debt so you can get rid of it for good.
Here’s how it works: After you answer a few questions, Fiona will assess your creditworthiness and match you with a debt consolidation loan. You get to choose the loan with the best terms, and then you’ll use that loan to pay down your debts.
You’ll only have to pay back the one, lower-interest loan, instead of a bunch of miscellaneous bills with varying interest rates.
If you’re worried you won't qualify — don’t. Fiona offers its services completely free, and checking whether you’re eligible won’t affect your credit score.
It only takes two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars on interest.
And your credit score will be happy, too.
5. Let this company rescue your savings
So you’ve been building up your credit score — yippee. That’s great. Now what about your savings? If you’ve been rapidly paying down your debt, you’re already making strides toward a perfect credit score, but it’s also probably depleting your monthly cash-flow and leaving you little room for savings.
Never fear: Credit Strong is here to help.
Credit Strong combines savings with credit building, and the best part is that you get to invest in you.
Credit Strong works by allowing you to take out a “credit-building” loan that you essentially pay back to yourself.
Credit Strong will lock your loan into a savings account (where, side bonus: it earns interest) until you finish paying it off. They’ll give you an easy, manageable payment schedule — by making the payments on time, it’ll boost your credit score by showing that you’ve got the money management chops to handle a loan.
Once you pay off the loan, the savings account is unlocked, and you can choose to withdraw your funds or keep building up your savings.
Moral of the story: Fixing your credit score takes hard work and patience, but you’re not in this alone. Companies like HiFiona and Credit Strong are here to help. Most importantly, you got this — and before you know it, you’ll be showing lenders just how great it is to invest in you.