11 Common Credit Repair Mistakes To Avoid When Fixing Bad Credit
Got bad credit and need to fix your bad credit?
You’re not alone!
It’s really surprising how many people suffer from poor credit. The burden of being unable to get a car loan or a home loan at reasonable interest rates needs to be more accessible to people.
Unfortunately, to get good interest rates, you must have a good credit score.
If your credit score is less than stellar, and you’ve been working hard at making it better without much improvement, you could be making some big credit repair mistakes!
I’ve put together a list of 10 things people do to fix their credit, but in fact, they aren’t fixing it at all! They’re actually hurting their credit in some cases!
Make sure to go through the list and identify any areas where you may be going wrong with your credit repair.
I’ll also provide solutions to fixing your credit properly.
How To Fix Bad Credit The Wrong Way (11 Mistakes You Could Be Making!)
Below is a list of 11 things you could be doing wrong when trying to fix your credit. Along with each item I’ve listed, I’ve included what you should be doing instead to fix your credit!
1. Not Doing Anything About Your Bad Credit
It blows my mind how people don’t do anything about a bad situation, because for whatever reason, they feel that it’s “bad” and accept it. A bad credit score will financially burden you in so many ways today and down the road, you’ll be kicking yourself silly once you realize how terrible it is.
your poor credit score can be fixed. It takes action on your part and time. But it’s 100% doable – no matter how bad your credit is. Fixing your credit score isn’t too complicated either! The best thing to do is to learn the basics and start applying the main pillars of credit fixing that improves your credit score fast.
2. Not Getting Credit Repair Help
You know your credit is bad and you need to do something about it. If you’re the type of person to figure things out and do it on your own, great. Use my improve credit score guide above and get started fixing your credit now.
But if you’re the type of person who knows they need help and doesn’t know what to do or doesn’t have time to figure it out, well, you should consider getting professional help.
Credit repair companies exist to help you fix your credit score as fast as possible. They look at your entire financial situation and walk you through how to begin fixing your bad credit. The long term benefits of a great credit score should always outweigh the cost getting help from a credit repair company.
Instead of getting a car loan interest rates of 15%, you’ll get a reasonable 3% with great credit. This difference is enormous, because it likely means you’ll be spending thousands of dollars less in interest payments over the entire loan payment life. Just the savings from this one loan can be enough to cover the cost of getting someone to professionally fix all your credit problems.
A common place to get professional credit repair help is creditrepair.com
3. Not Checking Your Credit Report & Credit Score
Some people work on fixing their credit without checking their credit report and checking their credit scores. I find this mind blowing! It’s like Going to school to get smarter, but never looking at your grades or teachers remarks!
a) Your credit report shows a list of all your credit inquiries, existing credit and closed credit accounts, and anything delinquent. You must check your credit report because there could be things on there that don’t belong there. For example, someone with a similar name to you could have applied for credit and it shows up on your report. Credit reporting mistakes are very common.
If you find an issue with your credit report, you need to dispute it with the credit bureaus. The first thing you want to do is get your free credit report from annualcreditreport.com. You get 1 for free every year. Check it for errors. If there are, dispute them. Myfico has a quick guide on how to dispute credit report errors here.
b) Your credit score is like a report card grade. It’s a number from 350-850 (typically). The higher the better. You need to know what your credit score is right now so you can improve it. It’s really as simple as that. You want to know how bad (or good) it is and set yourself up for reasonable expectations on fixing your credit.
A score below 650 is in the “needs improvement” range in my opinion. You’ll still be able to get loans if your credit score is not too far below 650, but your interest rates will be high, costing you more money for the loan.
Unless your credit score is in the good to great range, which is roughly 750+, then you will benefit greatly from improving your credit score.
But again, the first step is to check your credit score, and continually check it as you work towards improving your credit over the next coming months. And there’s nothing more satisfying that seeing the needle move upwards
4. Not Exploring Debt Consolidation
Debt consolidation is when you take all of your overwhelming debts and combine it into one payment. The nice thing about debt consolidation is that you benefit from paying one loan now, instead of 5 or whatever. It’s easier to keep track and stay focused. Sometimes, you can even get a lower interest rate for your consolidated loan, which will save you money.
Debt consolidation isn’t always needed, and it doesn’t always benefit you. It really depends on your credit situation. But it’s absolutely an option you should explore. Because a more simpler loan payment and possible lower interest rate is something that will be very beneficial.
5. Not Exploring Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Balance transfer credit cards are credit cards that allow you to transfer your credit card debt from a high interest credit card to a “balance transfer” card – which typically has a much lower interest rate, if it charges you an interest rate at all.
Now, there are “catches”. You don’t get a low interest rate forever. It’s usually for the first year only, and there are other conditions you need to meet. The main thing you need to do is understand what these conditions are and make sure you don’t break them, because the consequences of breaking them could result in making your credit situation worse.
Just make sure you really understand the terms and conditions for the balance transfer credit card you are applying for. Balance transfer cards can be a beautiful thing. Just think about not having to pay 20% on your outstanding credit card balance and instead you’re just paying like 1.9% for the next year.
6. Not Inquiring About Or Disputing Credit Report Errors/Anomalies
I touched on this earlier, but some people take the time to check their credit report, but then don’t do anything about an error they see. Look, some of these errors are harmless. It could be an old account someone else opened that ended up on your account and it has since been closed and nothing bad came from it. While this is probably harmless, you don’t know what else could happen in the future. Maybe one day this account gets opened again and charges are run up and not paid. Then this becomes a real problem. You’re problem!
If there is anything on your credit report that is wrong or doesn’t belong to you, you need to get in touch with the credit bureaus and dispute them. Your credit is your responsibility!
7. Cutting Up All Your Credit Cards & Cancelling Them
I know it seems the smart thing to do is to cut up all your credit cards so you can never use them and run up any more debt. That actually might be a great idea. But if you look at the big picture of how credit works, it’s probably not the best thing to do.
Because you need to continually use credit in order to improve your credit score. Credit cards are the easiest ways to use credit. It’s so easy and simple. It’s probably this ease and simplicity that got you into credit card debt in the first place. But resist the urge to destroy all your credit cards.
If you have to cut them up, then leave one or two uncut. Preferably keep the accounts you’ve had the longest. Because these are the cards you will want to continue using in the future, since your credit score is partly based on how long you’ve had credit for. You can find out how old each credit card is from your credit report.
As far as paying back your credit card debt, I personally would pay off the highest interest credit cards first. Mathematically, this makes the most sense. Others choose to pay off the lowest balance card first, regardless of interest rates, because it’s psychologically better for you when you get that first credit card paid off and then get on to the second credit card faster…
Regardless, don’t close or cancel any old credit. Once you have paid things off and the balance is zero, it’s probably better to leave it alone than to close it. If it’s a credit card and you’re scared to start using the card, then sure, go ahead and cut the card up. The mix of credit card history and available credit will almost surely help improve your credit score, which is why closing accounts is a bad way to fix your credit score.
8. Paying Off Collections First
A collection is when a debt you owe goes into delinquent status and is then sent to collections. By this point, it’s usually too late. It’s something you basically want to avoid at all costs. Even if you are not wrong! Because the consequences are a huge head ache.
When collectors start calling to collect on the debt, it may seem like paying it off is the most important thing you need to do first. But it really isn’t! Because any debt that has gone to collections has already hurt your credit score. That’s why it’s important to avoid anything getting to collections in the first place.
Now, if there was an error and something went to collections mistakenly, then dispute it and hopefully it gets removed an all is good.
Personally, I wouldn’t worry about anything in collections when starting off fixing credit. That will probably come last. I’m going to work on my existing credit and repair what I can repair first – not something that has already damaged me and can’t be saved.
9. Stop Using Credit Completely
Credit is a scary thing when you’ve suffered the burden of being in debt. But try not to let it scare you away completely. The MOST important thing about getting a high credit score is to use credit responsibly. If you have any available credit, like a credit card or line of credit, don’t be afraid of them. Even if you are in mounds of debt, use them once a month on a small purchase and pay it off completely each month.
As far as your existing debt goes, continue to pay them back as best you can. Shrink that debt! As your overall debt gets smaller, your credit score should improve. Fixing your credit usually starts with coming up with a strategy to pay back all your debts. If all you can do is make minimum payments, then that’s what you’ll do for now. Otherwise, work at putting aside extra money to pay as much of your debt back as possible. And don’t stop using credit completely! Only if you are under mountains of debt and everything is maxed out – then, well, you can’t even use credit if you wanted to.
10. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Credit isn’t something you fix in a few months. It takes 6+ months, to a few years to really get back on your feet, depending on how poor your credit score is right now.
You need a plan to fix your credit and then reasonable expectations. How much your credit improves really depends on so many factors, it’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to get a good credit score. But in all honesty, if you have poor credit right now, it will probably take at least a year.
11. Paying Off The Wrong Kind Of Debt
Your credit score is based on debt that you’ve applied for. Think of it as any type of money that is loaned out to you.
So things like:
- credit cards
- lines of credit
- student loans
- car loans
- instalment loans
What’s the same about the above? They are all things you have applied for. They are loaned out monies to you.
Now, people make this mistake all the time. They think their cell phone bills and utility bills helps build credit. It doesn’t . Did you apply for a utility loan bill? did you apply for a cell phone loan? No you didn’t. These types of bills aren’t LOANS to you, and will not build your credit when you pay them on time.
So if you’re trying to fix your credit quickly, don’t focus on paying back your utility bills and cell phone bills. Focus on paying back your credit card debt, your outstanding car loan, or your student loans. Paying these things back will improve your credit score!
It doesn’t mean forget about your utility and cell phone bills. Still pay those off, but prioritize paying off debt that helps improve your credit score first.
Also note that while a bill like your electric bill will not hurt your credit score, if you don’t pay it long enough, it will go to collections, and if it gets there, then yes, it will hurt your credit score now. So don’t let it get that far.