Getting your financial life and credit back on track after going through tough economic times is not an impossible task by any means, but it does require an effective and proven plan.
Whether you had to file for bankruptcy; went through a foreclosure; dealt with excessive late payments, collections, judgments; a repossession; or the dreaded tax lien, the good news is there is hope in recovering and re-establishing a good credit rating.
First of all, don’t believe for a second that there’s nothing that can be done about past negative credit history — because there is. You can always work on repairing your credit reports; the Fair Credit Reporting Act protects your right to do so.
The first step to credit recovery is to establish new credit. The obvious step is to open up a secured credit card, right?
Well, not exactly.
The key is to establish at least three positive trades actively reporting on each of your reports with Equifax, Transunion and Experian. Actively reporting means you’re making regular payments; a loan that’s paid off does not count.
For example, if you’re currently making timely payments on a car note but have no other positive credit that’s active, then you should obtain two secured credit cards and use them regularly.
Keep your debt-to-credit-limit ratios on those cards at no more than 30%, and whenever possible increase your limits. The higher the limit, the better it is for you in the future when a creditor extends an unsecured credit line to you.
But before you go and open up two or three secured credit cards, you must select the right lenders, too! Did you know some of the high risk lenders offering secured cards can actually end up hurting you rather than helping you?
Think about this for a second: if you obtain a secured card from a high-risk lender, what does this tell other lenders about you?
It shows you are a high risk.
The key is to open a secured card from a mainstream lender — not a high-risk lender. Now keep in mind that opening up a few secured credit cards, making purchases and paying bills on time is a step in the right direction, but it does not address the current problem: your credit reports.
Did you know that by law you are entitled to receive one free credit report from each of the major consumer credit agencies every 12 months? You can obtain your free reports at annualcreditreport.com.
Review your reports and start repairing your reports by either working on them yourself or hiring a reputable credit restoration company.
Remember, it does not have to take a long time to put your credit problems behind you. Once you begin establishing new positive payment history, maintain at least three actively reporting trades and begin repairing your credit reports, you can restore your good credit ratings and scores.