We all know that our credit score can affect our monthly bills; The lower our score, the more likely we are to pay for everything from credit card interest to insurance premiums. It’s a problem that millions of people suffer from, and credit scores are too low, making it difficult to qualify for a mortgage – among other things.
“Having a bad credit history can also make it difficult to rent an apartment, go to college, or even get a job,” Consumer Reports investigative editor Lisa Gill said.
Here’s the kicker: if you want to build your credit, you need to get credit. But how do you get credit if you have bad credit?
Consumer Reports says first, that you need to open a bank account, take out several small loans, and make your monthly payments on time — which over time should improve your score.
Next, consider applying for what’s known as a secured credit card, which means you backed the card with cash. You can also ask a family member with good credit to add you to their credit card. Just make sure you have a good relationship with the person because if you miss payment or are late in paying it, it can affect your score.
And if you have any outstanding debt under collection, pay it off as soon as possible. Make sure you pay all your bills on time to avoid collections in the first place.
Consumer Reports suggests being very wary of any quick fix credit services that offer help for a fee. You don’t have to pay to fix your balance. It just takes a solid financial plan and some time.
“Once you pay off any debt in groups, many credit scoring systems won’t overburden themselves when calculating your score,” Gill said.
Finally, be sure to review your credit report carefully. You are entitled to free weekly reports from the three major credit bureaus until April 2022. Challenge any errors you may find by sending a certified letter with evidence to Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. They have about 30 days to respond.
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