How to repair your credit and improve your FICO Scores

Repairing your credit & improving your FICO Scores

If you’ve checked your credit score lately, there’s a good chance it’s your FICO® Scores that you’re seeing. Your FICO® Scores are foundational when evaluating your creditworthiness, and they’re calculated based on your credit reports from the three major consumer reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Lenders use your FICO® Scores and other factors to assess the risk level of lending you money or issuing you a credit card. While you might think that improving your credit score doesn’t mean much to the average person, it can impact more than just the type of terms you receive for taking out loans or opening a credit card. Your rates could increase, you might not qualify for specific jobs, your insurance premiums could rise, you could even face higher deposits and fees for utilities like your home phone, and more. But what can you do if your credit score isn’t good enough? What are the steps for repairing your credit and improving your FICO® Scores? These are the questions we aim to explain in this content area.

Created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, credit scoring is used by more than 90 percent of lenders when making important decisions about your credit. It uses data on your credit history and other information to calculate a number, known as a FICO® Score, from 300 to 850, with a higher score indicating a lower risk to the lender. When it’s so widely used, a good FICO® score can open doors to excellent loan terms, while a bad one can close them just as fast. This brings us to the first thing you must understand about your score: it’s not a fixed number. Instead, your score is a constantly fluid expression of your financial behavior and past credit history at any particular time. Sure, improving your credit score can take some time – but you can repair your credit and boost your score with the right strategy.

Credit repair is about removing negative items – late payments, collections, errors – from your credit report and strengthening your financial habits. It takes time, discipline, and a plan to get and stay out of debt. Credit improvement is different. Rather than ‘repair what’s broken,’ improving your FICO® Scores is about building a good, clean credit history in the long term. It’s about using a credit card to your advantage, showing would-be lenders that you can handle debt.

Repairing your credit and improving your FICO  Scores isn’t just about fixing past financial mistakes – it’s about setting your credit up for the future. Maybe you want to buy a home or car or just sleep at night knowing you have a good credit score and are financially stable. This article aims to walk you through repairing your credit and improving your FICO Scores with step-by-step advice, strategies, and insights to get your credit where you want it to be. 

Understanding FICO® Scores

What Are FICO® Scores?

FICO® Scores are credit scores, a three-digit representation of credit risk calculated by the Fair Isaac Corporation. These appear on your credit reports and play a central role in credit decisions. Lenders widely use these numbers to help them determine whether they’ll offer you credit, as well as its terms, such as interest rate, points, and fees. FICO® Scores range between 300 and 850, with the higher the score, the lower the risk, as seen by the lender. FICO® Scores are generated by a formula using information from your credit report, which typically examines your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit. This formula provides a snapshot of your credit risk at a point in time.

Factors Affecting FICO® Scores

Consumers need to understand the factors that influence their FICO® Scores so that they can effectively repair credit. It is determined based on the following:

  • Payment History (35%): This is the most heavily weighted component of your FICO® Score. It determines whether you’ve paid your credit accounts on time. Late payments, bankruptcy, and other damaging marks all affect your score.
  • Debts Owed (30 percent): This is essentially credit utilization, or the ratio of your most recent balances to your credit limit. Lower utilization is good.
  • Length of credit history (15 percent): The longer, the better—more data on handling your debts makes for a higher score. New accounts (10 percent): If you’ve recently applied for many retail accounts or credit cards despite having good credit, you could take a hit here.
  • New credit (10 percent): quickly opening several new credit accounts can be interpreted as risky behavior, dragging down your score.
  • Credit Mix (10 percent): If you have a mix of credit types (such as credit cards, auto loans, mortgages, etc.), your score is likely to increase. This is because your credit report will show that you can manage different types of credit effectively.

Reading Your Credit Report

Your credit report provides a detailed view of your credit history, including the accounts, payment histories, and debts you have or have had. As the report contains personal

information, it’s in your best interest to obtain and review your report regularly to check your progress and better understand your financial situation. You can receive one free report from each of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – every 12 months through Looking closely at the contents of your credit report can be daunting for those unfamiliar with its content.

Armed with that information and an understanding of what drives FICO® Scores and the significance of your credit report, you’re better equipped to manage your credit file should the need arise. That includes the repair process and how to make smart credit decisions going forward. 

Assessing Your Credit Situation

How to Obtain Your Credit Report

Your first job is to get copies of your credit report, preferably from all three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Federal law ensures your free right to a copy of your credit report from each of these once every 12 months. They can be obtained at These reports provide the raw data from which your FICO® Scores are computed — from account information and credit inquiries to historical data on your credit activity.

Getting these reports is easy. You can obtain them online, by phone, or by mail. You should check all three bureaus, as they can contain slightly different information about you. Your lenders may report to only one or two of the bureaus; sometimes, correct information can be reported as having errors.

Identifying Errors

Then, once you have your credit reports, go through every line, looking for errors. These credit report errors can be something like wrong personal information or accounts reported to the bureaus as defaults when paid off. You also want to look for fraudulent accounts that you should have opened under your name. Getting those inaccuracies disputed is vital in getting your credit health back. Even the slightest error can significantly impact your FICO® Scores, costing you a more challenging time getting a loan and even costing you more on your interest rates if it leads to approval.

You must contact the credit bureau and the creditor that reported the information to dispute errors. This might seem easier said than done because the creditor provides nothing to prove the debt when you complain. After that, the credit bureau states that it cannot investigate without a copy of the information from the creditor—and the cycle repeats. Attach evidence to your dispute, such as loan payments or court documents. The credit bureaus must often respond to your dispute within 30 days.

Understanding Your Current Scores

You don’t have to wait, though. Your FICO® Scores are everywhere – you just have to look for them. Some credit card companies and other loan providers provide free access to your credit scores to their customers. FICO® will also sell you a copy of your scores. It is easy to know precisely how your credit health is doing now, and you can watch it change over time. Once you know your score, you’ll know what to work on.

Note that there are slight discrepancies in your scores between the three credit bureaus since they have unequal information on you. You will be better positioned to do credit repair as you understand these scores and the underlying details in your credit reports. 

Once you have checked your credit situation by ordering your credit reports, identifying any mistakes, and knowing your current FICO® Scores, you can begin fixing the items within your power and developing a general plan for improving your FICO® Scores.

Strategies for Credit Repair

You can repair your credit only if you plan to resolve the negative issues on your credit report while developing good credit habits. Here are some actionable strategies to remember when trying to repair your credit. 

Disputing Errors on Your Report

A crucial first step is to dispute the items on your credit reports that shouldn’t be there. Inaccuracies like late payments, missing or inaccurate balances, or accounts that do not belong to you can unjustifiably lower your FICO® Scores. Contact the credit bureau reporting the error and send documents to back up your case. Each credit bureau has a method for disputing errors, so follow the guidelines.

Negotiating with Creditors

You can call the creditors and ask them to work with you on a payment plan, settle for less than what you owe, or agree to delete (‘pay-for-delete’) the entry from your credit report in exchange for your paying off the debt. Creditors aren’t required to let you do any of this, but many will agree to work with you to get at least some of the money you owe them.

Settling or Paying Off Debt

For example, high debt levels can harm your score if you are close to or over your credit limit. By paying off these debts, primarily the higher interest or ones with the smallest balances (the avalanche and snowball approaches, respectively), you are reducing your total debt amount and showing the credit bureaus that you are responsible for keeping your credit under control.

Creating a Budget and Setting Financial Goals

One of the first steps toward successful credit repair is creating a budget that calculates your income and expenses throughout the month (and tells you where those dollars are going) so you can pay your bills and start paying down your debts. Setting short—and long-term goals might help you stay motivated to improve your credit status.

Building New Credit

A fundamental way for a thin-file or formerly subprime consumer to establish new credit is to get a secured credit card that ties a credit line to a deposit, which you are responsible for paying and charges you fees. Make purchases small enough that you can guarantee payment in full each month. Your scores should improve as your repayment history lengthens, and you maintain an open account.

These tactics require effort, time, and consistency. Don’t fret; regardless of how bad your current credit report is, taking a proactive approach to cleaning up its negative aspects and staying on the right side of your credit report with good credit habits will eventually increase your credit score. Credit repair is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll get there quickly with hard work and the right strategy. 

Improving Your FICO® Scores

Boosting your FICO® Scores is vital to building financial fitness and gaining access to lower interest rates, better loan terms, and more credit options. Here’s the big picture when it comes to improving your important credit scores: 

Timely Payments

Your history of paying bills on time (35% of your FICO Scores) is most important. Make sure that your payments are made on time. One late payment can drag down your scores considerably. Especially damaging are those payments that are 30 days late or more. Try setting up automatic payments to avoid missing one or put reminders in your calendar to make payments on time. Payments over time will boost your scores – lenders like to see that you’re paying your bills regularly.

Reducing Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization ratio—the amount of credit you’re using relative to your credit limits—is an essential factor in credit scoring (30 percent of your FICO ​Score). The lower the ratio, the better: it indicates you’re not maxing out your credit. Davis recommends keeping your ratio below 30 percent; lower is better. Pay down balances, and don’t make big purchases on credit to raise your ratio.

Avoiding New Hard Inquiries

Every time you apply for credit, a hard inquiry on your credit score can drop your scores. While the effect of a single investigation is generally tiny, multiple inquiries in the same period can hurt. Apply for credit cautiously. Apply for many kinds of credit simultaneously to keep the number of hard inquiries low, as some credit-scoring models factor in rate shopping.

Maintaining a Mix of Credit Types

Carole makes another good point: ‘Having a mix of credit will positively affect your scores, particularly if you have both revolving credit (credit cards) and installment loans (auto loans, mortgages), to demonstrate that you can adequately manage credit of varying types.’ Getting back to the individual who asks if opening new accounts can boost her credit mix: probably not, as those credit inquiries could contribute to a softening of her scores. Remember, making decisions as part of a sound financial plan is critical.

Keeping Old Accounts Open

The amount of your credit history (15%) can also work in your favor: having longer-standing accounts generally has a positive effect because it provides a longer record of your credit behavior. So unless you have a compelling reason (such as a high annual fee), keep old accounts open when possible and use them regularly to support your average age of accounts and bolster your scores.

Regularly Monitoring Your Credit

Checking your credit report and scores helps you stay on top of your data. I recommend visiting the site at least once or twice each month to track your performance – and to react quickly if there’s fraud or error.

Like any self-improvement, FICO Scores don’t go up overnight. Building a solid pattern of prompt payments takes time, but those small and straightforward financial actions can add to significant changes. Working on these few targets can achieve a lot. 

Building a Strong Credit History

A solid credit history can set you up for a successful financial life by helping you build better FICO® Scores, gain a lender’s confidence, win over a landlord, or even impress a prospective employer. How to start?

Opening New Accounts Wisely

Besides improving your credit mix and lifting your credit history length when you open a new account, it is best if it makes sense. Each application can generate a hard inquiry into your credit report, which could cause a temporary reduction in scores. Wait until you have a legitimate need for new credit, and space out applications to one or a few per year when you can. For credit products, pick the ones that make sense for you financially and in pursuing the goals you establish. You might choose a secured credit card if you’re working to establish or build credit, but a rewards card is in order if you pay your balances in full each month.

Managing Existing Credit

Proper management of these accounts is also critical. Pay every bill as bills becoming past due hurt you the most in FICO® Scores. Keep your balances low on all your credit accounts — that is, keep your credit utilization ratio low. With the growing popularity of accessing credit reports, you should periodically get a copy to ensure your information is current, monitor spending trends and payment due dates, and spot errors and fraudulent activity.

The Role of Credit Mix

Diversifying across revolving and installment types can boost credit scores, showing that you can handle more than one type of borrowing. Say your credit portfolio is 100 percent revolving. If you feel comfortable increasing your debt, styling your credit portfolio should mean adding an installment loan, a car loan, or a personal loan to the mix. But again, more than just adding new types to your credit profile is required. Consistency, on-time payments, and a history of cautious borrowing are crucial.

Utilizing Credit Responsibly

 Every element of credit-building is as essential as responsible use. When I say ‘credit usage,’ we are talking about showing discipline with credit and treating it as a tool, not a lifestyle. Your usage can separate good and bad credit, building your score toward perfect or collapsing it back down to something ugly. No other element of credit-building is as essential as responsible use, if only because it can act against all the other credit-building factors. 

Essentially, exactly the opposite of what each of those elements says to do, credit usage is about realizing how much credit you can afford, staying within your budget, and recognizing that credit is a tool and does not serve to extend your money limits. Still, it either helps with accountability or can hinder you. The most responsible pattern would be not to use credit at all because using credit is an admission that you’re just helping yourself commit an act of theft. Responsible usage would also include recognizing when you shouldn’t use credit. It should instead build patience by saving up for purchases that are not necessities but that you are hoping to own.

Education and Financial Literacy

For instance, understanding credit reports and scores might help you establish strong credit habits. Ask for resources, workshops, and tools to improve your financial literacy. Knowledge is power, especially when choosing your debt options carefully and wisely. Also, don’t discount the good things in life.

Patience and Persistence

Improving your credit history is a marathon, not a sprint. Ultimately, the changes and benefits of good financial behavior might take time. But stick with the program, and in time, your credit history will begin reflecting your hard-won financial stability and reliability. 

To summarise, having a good credit history is an effective way to ensure financial health. Opening new accounts responsibly, managing your existing credit well, diversifying your credit mix, utilizing your available credit to benefit your credit score, improving your credit score every time, and always learning to become financially literate are all practical steps to take to reach the financial life you’ve dreamed of. Every financial decision you make helps determine the outcome of your credit history.

Using Credit Monitoring Services

Once you take out a credit card, car loan, or mortgage, you need to monitor your financial health constantly – and credit monitoring services play a vital role in that process. Through a credit monitoring service, you’ll get ongoing access to at least one of your credit reports from a credit band bureau, notifications when your credit score changes significantly, or you’re denied credit, and alerts that potential fraudulent activity has been reported on your account. What steps should you take to make sure your finances stay on track? Here’s a quick guide to credit monitoring. How can credit monitoring services help protect your financial health? Here’s what you should look for when choosing a service.

Benefits of Credit Monitoring

  • Identity Theft Prevention: Monitoring your credit can alert you to fraudulent accounts or credit checks so you can take action against identity theft before it’s too late.
  • Tracking Credit Score Trends: Many credit monitoring services track your credit score daily or weekly to see how financial behaviors affect your score over time.
  • Track your report errors: Tracking your credit report can ensure you catch any mistakes that could immediately hurt your credit score. 
  • Credit Utilization: Some services explain the influence of credit utilization ratio on credit scores and offer tips on improving them.

Top Credit Monitoring Services

Choosing a credit monitoring service can be daunting because of the vast array of options available. When preparing to select a monitoring service, consider the following factors.

  • Coverage: Does the service keep track of your credit with one, two, or all three of the bureaus? Monitoring with all three gives your report the most complete picture.
  • Alerts and Notifications: What kind of alerts are available (new inquiries, new accounts, potential fraud), and how will you be notified (email, text, app messages)?
  • Extras: Some services offer extras, such as identity theft protection, insurance, and credit score simulators—decide which are appropriate for your goals and situation. 
  • Price: It varies dramatically, from entirely free services (with limited features) to high-end pay-for-service models with premium coverage and associated perks. Determine what you value most from the service to determine what you’re willing to pay for. 
  • User Experience: This one’s pretty self-explanatory – services with suitable interfaces and strong user reviews tend to be much more enjoyable, and quality support makes all the difference. 

Using Credit Monitoring Effectively

Credit-monitoring services can be valuable sources of information and alerts, but they do users no good if they’re only consulted once a year during tax season. Review the facts and alerts provided by your credit monitoring service frequently. When something is amiss, dispute whether it’s a reporting error or fraud. Employ your credit-monitoring service as a means to an end, learning more about the best discipline for keeping your credit in good shape and working to improve it if your current credit situation is not ideal.

Credit monitoring services can be a precious weapon to keep your credit health in check. They allow you to receive critical information and alert you to react promptly. Whether you subscribe to an essential or a more comprehensive service, the additional peace of mind of having control over your credit health can be invaluable. 

Legal Ways to Improve Your Credit Score

Some great legal ways can put the ball in your court and give you better control of your credit score. With constituted legal reasons, your credit score can be improved to become a permanent feature in your financial vision. Here are some ways to improve your credit score legally.

Credit Repair Companies

A host of credit repair companies vie for your business. But enlisting one will cost you money. In exchange, the company can argue cases for missed payments, late payments, and other representations or errors that might be on your credit report. With so much at stake, they can coach you on paying your bills on time, even your cell phone bill, reducing your credit card balances below 20 percent of your limits, and paying down balances on loans. 

They can even negotiate with creditors to delete lingering debt from your credit record or work payment plans for you, though they cannot contact a creditor on your behalf. The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) requires that companies give you your legal rights in writing before you sign a contract, provide you with three days to cancel without obligation, complete the services before charging you, and not make any false representations about their services. Expect upfront fees for any work before they perform a service.

DIY Credit Repair

You can do many of the same things that a credit repair company does for you reasonably inexpensively (if at all). You can dispute inaccuracies on your credit reports with the credit bureaus, negotiate with creditors, and set up payment plans to dilute your debts. The more you know about your rights and the credit reporting, scoring, and repairing process, the better placed you’ll be to successfully ‘do-it-yourself (DIY).’ Financial education sites, like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), can help you understand what you need to know and do for effective DIY credit repair.

Understanding the Law

You can also empower yourself to repair your credit more effectively by becoming familiar with consumer protection laws. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA) promotes the accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in consumer reporting agencies’ files. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects you by prohibiting third-party debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to collect from you.

Building Good Credit Habits

Another key to legally increasing your credit score is developing good credit habits: pay all your bills on time, keep debt levels as low as possible, avoid maxing out credit cards, and guard against opening multiple new credit accounts unless you really need them. Such practices will improve your score and tell lenders you’re willing to be a reasonable credit risk. 

Monitoring Your Credit

You should check your credit report and score once a month to see where you can improve, ensure that credit repair is reflected, and ensure that harmful data stays on time. Doing so will also alert you to identity theft early. You are entitled to a free copy of your report from each credit reporting bureau (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) once a year. Go to to access your free reports. 

Reformed credit must happen the old-fashioned way: slowly, with constant, conscious effort and the discipline to minimize mistakes. Yet, an awareness of credit-reporting laws and scoring and of what resources are accessible can give you excellent leverage over your financial possible selves and dramatically boost your creditworthiness and marketability. 

Maintaining and Protecting Your Improved Score

After working so hard to increase your FICO® Scores, don’t let your efforts go to waste. Here are some tactics to ensure that your credit score remains strong and your financial future is prosperous. 

Regularly Reviewing Your Credit Report

Nothing worth having, particularly not your hard-won restored score, comes without a bit of diligence. Order your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), study them regularly, and check your score to see where you stand and if progress is being made. Most importantly, review them often to quickly spot and question any errors and fraudulent activities before they ding your score. You’re entitled to one free report a year from each of the three bureaus via the government website

Avoiding Credit Scams

Beware of credit repair scams while you’re boosting your credit score. They might promise that you can have bad credit erased or even offer to create a whole new credit identity for you – if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. There are no shortcuts, overnight fixes, and silver bullets regarding credit repair. At the very least, you must put in time to do real, meaningful work with your creditors. Always do your homework on a potential credit repair service, and if you invest your money there, make sure the service operates within the law regarding the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA). 

Setting Long-term Financial Goals

Keeping your score in the proper range consistently is much easier if you set goals. You have something to work toward, whether a home, retirement, or a rainy-day fund, which can help you practice good credit behaviors daily. If you are regularly saving money and building your nest egg (even in small amounts), it will prevent you from taking out a loan when a financial emergency arises.

Limiting Hard Inquiries

Every time you apply for credit, a ‘hard’ inquiry is added to your credit report, and your score could drop slightly. Although this is a slight temporary dip, multiple inquiries can add up in just a few months—space out new applications. Apply for new credit only as needed, and give more than a few business days between each application.

Practicing Good Credit Habits

Good credit comes from simple, consistent habits: you pay every bill on time, keep your credit card balances low, and pay off any debt you take on. Your credit score benefits from these advantageous behaviors and, because they’re consistent, reflects your dependable nature as a borrower.

Being Prepared for the Unexpected

While financial contingencies such as credit emergencies cannot be ruled out, keeping an emergency fund means managing this expense without compromising your credit rating, as you will not have to resort to costly credit options. 

You must be vigilant, disciplined, and strategic to keep and protect your credit score in tip-top shape. This includes checking your credit report regularly, avoiding scams and fraud, creating a long-term plan for yourself, limiting hard inquiries, creating good habits, and preparing for life’s ups and downs. Ultimately, a credit score is a symbol of possibility, a sign that you can take advantage of opportunities, big and small.

Real-life Success Stories

Hearing about others who have made it to the other side of the eye-appealing credit score range with hard work and other tactics can be motivating and enlightening. Real-life examples help you decide on a course of action that has reaped rewards for others and could work for you, too. Let’s look at some credit success stories and what they show us.

Before and After Scenarios

John’s journey from Red to Green: John’s credit was in the red. His credit score was in the very low 500s due to high credit card debt with several 90-day late notations. He created a budget, pared it down, and first paid off the highest-interest credit card debt. In addition, he either negotiated with the creditor a reduction of the negative marks for payment or paid the item off. Over two years later, his score was in the high 700s, and he qualified for a mortgage at great rates.

Wins: Emma’s Error Dispute Success: Emma went through her credit report line-by-line and found numerous errors. She discovered that a credit card account had been displayed that she did not open. She immediately disputed the errors in writing with the three main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). She followed up repeatedly with these bureaus, armed with proof, until the items were permanently deleted from her report. She also worked on her credit utilization (the ratio of her total amount of revolving debt to her credit limit) by paying down existing debts. Over one year, her credit score rose more than 100 points, and she qualified for much better terms on several new loans.

Alex’s Strategic Credit Building As someone with no credit history and therefore no credit score, Alex could access any form of ‘regular’ credit by having secured credit cards and taking out a credit-builder loan through his local credit union. First, he obtained a small line of credit on a secured credit card, made small monthly purchases, and paid off the balance. Second, he received a credit-builder loan and paid that off, using the loan’s revenue toward his car payment and other monthly bills. There are other non-credit-building options. Although Alex successfully built his credit over time, it’s important to note that it’s not the only option if you have no credit history. Other non-credit-building loans, such as secured loans and loans or deposits secured through savings with a bank, may also help you build your credit by demonstrating a regular monthly income.

Tips from Individuals Who Improved Their Scores

  • THE TAKEAWAY: Check your report and score often, dispute errors as soon as you find them, and pay your bills on time. 
  • Strategies to Help You Pay Off Debt: Keep your focus on debt reduction: pay off the debt with the highest interest, or use the debt snowball method, concentrating on your smallest debt, to experience some victories along the way.
  • Keep Channel Fat Early: Your score will benefit if you keep the amount you owe below 30 percent of each limit on all your accounts.

Good things come to those who wait. Building up a good score takes time, hard work, and perseverance. 

These tales drive home the need for you to be proactive about your credit health, the power of information and the credit process to tilt the odds in your favor, and the power of patience and persistence. There is a thread that connects them all: it is possible to turn around your finances and turn your credit report into a tool to help you achieve your financial goals, making life and possibilities easier.


Questions about how to build credit and fix credit history come up frequently. Answering some of the most asked questions about credit repair and FICO® Scores can set the record straight for those seeking answers. What is the fastest way to build credit? The most efficient way to increase your scores is to pay all of your accounts on time every month consistently. What is considered ‘good’ credit in the United States? That will depend on what you are trying to achieve. FHA’s minimum 3.5 percent down payment requirement is a 580 FICO® Score. What score is needed for a car loan? A 500 FICO Score is considered ‘acceptable’ to finance a new car, but a 660 FICO Score will qualify for a better interest rate. Is making more money the quickest way to improve my score? No, having money doesn’t automatically boost your scores.

How Long Does It Take to Repair Credit?

It also depends on what exactly needs to be repaired. Minor errors may work out in weeks to months, often sooner, once you’ve disputed them with the bureaus. More severe problems, particularly those that involve late payments, collection actions, or high credit balances, take time to right. You can often dent your score by paying your bills on time and reducing your debt over three to 12 months. Some of the worst problems – like bankruptcies or foreclosures – can take several years to come back from entirely.

Can Closing Credit Cards Improve My Score?

If you close those cards, your credit score might go down for a short while because you’ll have reduced your total credit available, which can increase your credit utilization ratio (a big part of your credit score). Moreover, by closing older accounts, you’d shorten the length of your credit history, another piece of your score. In practical terms, if you have a credit card sitting idly in a drawer and you’re not paying any fees, it might make sense to leave the account open.

Is Credit Repair Legal?

Yes, credit repair as an industry is legal, and yes, you have a right to correct inaccuracies on your credit report. Federal laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA), outline and protect your legal rights and allow you to challenge and repair your credit on your behalf. You can request information from creditors, dispute charges on your report, and GPS-track people while they steal your identity. Don’t fall for the hucksters and unscrupulous scammers who promise a miraculous ‘credit score’ or illegal activities for your money. Conduct thorough research, become an informed consumer, and choose reliable service providers. You could also try going it alone and repairing your credit alone.

How Often Should I Check My Credit Score?

As a best practice, you should check your credit score once a year, but you might want to check it more frequently if you’re actively working on improving your credit, applying for a large loan, or are concerned about identity theft. Credit card issuers, banks, and financial apps offer customers free credit score checking.

Does Paying Off Collections Improve My Credit Score?

Paying off collections can help your credit score, particularly on newer credit scoring models that favor paid collection accounts more than unpaid ones. While the collection account will continue to appear on your credit report for seven years from the original overdue debt, paying it off can show future lenders that you’ve taken responsibility for your obligations.

What Is the Fastest Way to Improve My Credit Score?

Paying down those high balances as quickly as possible will improve your credit score immediately. The quickest way to do that is to pay down what you owe while making all future payments promptly. Limiting a minimal amount and paying it in full monthly will further enhance your credit utilization ratio. Credit score improvements can be made by challenging and correcting any errors on a credit report.

By answering these FAQs, you’ll be well on your way to building a baseline of knowledge, tempered by your patience and curiosity, that will help you maintain good credit overall.


There’s no better way to build your economic self-sufficiency than your journey toward your credit repair. It’s challenging, but once you repair your credit and raise your FICO Scores, you’re building a foundation of credit health that you can rely on for the rest of your life. While it’s clear that credit repair ideas, credit repair information, and credit repair tips could be helpful, it might be more beneficial for you to take control of the learning process rather than letting some outside person or company train you.

That’s why we recommend that you invest in some credit repair books so you can read about correcting your credit report, fixing errors, rebuilding credit, and maintaining your credit restrictions. You can increase your credit score and create wealth for yourself and your family for years. Credit repair books will empower you in a way that only you have the power to do, with information no one but you has the power to provide. Take control of your credit repair.

The real-life successes and tactics outlined in this Guide reinforce what is true in the real world: if you play the credit game strategically, take it seriously, and stick with it, you can improve your finances and truly transform your credit. Changing your credit for the better is a marathon – not a sprint – where persistence, financial discipline, and focus on your goals can slowly but surely improve your financial life forever. 

Because credit repair and improvement is an individual and personal process, the direction it will take will be different from one person to the next. The common thread, though, is a possibility. If you have read through this, you know strategies, hopes, and ideas to help you along your credit journey. You now know you can attempt to do something yourself to make it better. That in itself is empowering. Here’s hoping that your financial future continues to blossom with lots of flowers. 

Stay the course, check your progress, celebrate your results, and learn from any misses. Your credit report is slowly but surely pulling you forward into the future—toward a more financially stable and prosperous you!

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