This is a guest post from BadCredit.org.
When your credit scores are bogged down by inaccurate information, credit repair is a great way to clean up your report, and potentially improve your credit scores. If the mistaken accounts were the only blemishes on your credit history, you can now enjoy a happy financial future (assuming you continue down the right credit path, of course).
In some cases, however, credit repair may be only the first step along the path to financial freedom. For instance, mistakes may not have been the only things affecting your credit scores. If you have legitimate debts still on your credit reports, or a rocky payment history on your remaining accounts, your scores may need a little more help.
Additionally, the age of your existing accounts is factored into the calculations for your credit scores. So, if your credit history was already severely limited to begin with, removing long-standing accounts, erroneous or not, may not have helped as much as you hoped.
Regardless of your specific situation — whether you need to improve your bad credit or simply need to build upon your fledgling credit history — the approach is likely the same: Establish new credit and start using it responsibly.
Options for Poor Credit
If you’ve gone through the repair process, and resolved any possible disputes, but still have a credit score of 640 or below, you are typically classified as having poor credit. Your initial priority should, of course, be paying off any remaining debts. Then, focus on rebuilding.
One of the easiest ways to build your credit is with a credit card, but that can be a challenge when you have poor credit — especially if you want to avoid having to deal with prepaid or secured credit cards. Luckily, there are lots of options available, with a variety of credit cards designed for those with bad credit.
Credit cards can help your credit scores on multiple fronts. Not only will making timely payments reflect well on your responsibility as a borrower, but increasing your available credit will improve your utilization rate — the amount of debt you have compared to your overall credit limits. Experts recommend maintaining a utilization rate of 30% or less to have the best effect on your scores.
While you’re not going to get the same quality sign-up bonuses, rewards features and appealing interest rates as someone with better credit, you should still shop around for the best deal on a credit card.
Options for Limited Credit
The length of your credit history only formally counts for about 15% of your FICO credit score, but having a limited history can impact other areas, as well. The fewer accounts you have on your reports, the more weight each one will carry.
Establishing new credit can be a great way to show future creditors that you are responsible, and worthy of their loans. When used cautiously, credit cards are an easy, convenient way to build a positive credit history. While some card companies may not like the risk of an unproven applicant, there are plenty of credit card options for those with limited credit.
Don’t go overboard, though: Opening too many accounts too quickly, can also have a negative impact on your credit scores. The account age used in calculating your scores is actually an average of all of your accounts, and having many young accounts can affect your average. Additionally, card companies may see a spree of new accounts as a sign of risky borrowing behavior.
General Rules for Rebuilding Credit
No matter which category applies to you, building — or rebuilding — your credit is going to take time. It’s a good idea to pay off your new credit cards on time every month, so you can avoid late payments like the plague — they’ll just put you back where you started, if not in worse shape.
Also, keep an eye on your credit reports, both to track your progress and to keep an eye out for any future mistakes that may need to be resolved. You are legally entitled to free copies of your credit reports, once a year, from each of the three credit bureaus.
Ashley Dull is the Finance Editor at Digital Brands, Inc., where she oversees content published on CardRates.com and BadCredit.org. Ashley works closely with experts and industry leaders in every sector of finance to develop authoritative guides, news and advice articles with regards to audience interest.
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