How Much Does it Cost to Repair My Credit?
If you’re wondering how much credit repair will cost you, learn about the 3 different options and how much you should expect to pay.
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If you have bad credit, it’s possible that your life is being impacted in any number of ways. Things like getting approved for a loan, renting an apartment, and qualifying for low interest rates are a challenge if you have damaged credit.
It’s possible that you’ve had trouble paying some bills in the past, but that history continues to haunt you and make your financial life more difficult. It’s also possible that your credit has been damaged as a result of having your identity stolen. Or maybe there is a mistake on your credit report that is dragging your score down.
In any of these situations, you may turn to credit repair as a way of getting things back on track so you can move forward. If you’re considering credit repair, one of the first questions that may come to mind is, “how much does it cost to repair my credit?”
We’ll take a detailed look at the topic of credit repair, the different options that you have, and how much they’ll cost. Don’t worry, there are options for any budget (including no budget at all).
What is Credit Repair?
The goal of credit repair is to improve your credit score by removing damaging information that should not be on your credit report.
However, it’s important to note that credit repair is not a magic wand. If the damaging information on your credit report is accurate and verifiable, a credit repair service may not be able to get it removed.
(If you need to build or rebuild your credit, this article details your options.)
Unfortunately, a lot of people have negative tradelines on their credit report that are not accurate. These inaccuracies can drag down your credit score and make your financial life harder than it needs to be. Credit repair can help to remove these types of items from your credit report so your score can recover.
Some examples of issues that might be corrected through credit repair include:
- Accounts that don’t belong to you
- Closed accounts that are still showing as open
- Incorrect balances
- Inaccurate payment history
- Incorrect dates
- Debts or delinquency data that can’t be verified
The last point is key. Not only do the details of your credit report need to be accurate, but they also need to be verifiable. If a creditor cannot verify or provide proof of a negative mark on your credit report, they must remove it. This can work in your favor since you may be able to get some items removed from your report simply because they are not verifiable.
The 3 Basic Credit Repair Options
Credit repair can cost different amounts depending on the type of credit repair that you choose.
Do-It-Yourself Credit Repair (Free)
Although there are plenty of professional credit repair services out there, you don’t need to hire someone to do this for you. The truth is, anything that a credit repair service will do for you could be done on your own.
DIY credit repair is not all that complicated, although it will take a little bit of time. It’s possible to do it yourself for free, or possibly for just the cost of some postage if you are mailing disputes to the credit bureaus (which some experts claim is more effective than filing disputes online).
Each of the 3 major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) allows you to easily file a dispute online through its website. You don’t need any special skills or insider information, simply review your credit report and dispute anything that is not accurate.
You can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus once every twelve months (by law). Due to COVID-19, the bureaus are offering free credit reports weekly through April of 2021, instead of only once per year.
The best way to get a copy of your credit report is through AnnualCreditReport.com. There are a lot of sites that claim to offer free credit reports, but this one is authorized by the government. Many of the other sites attempt to look similar, and then they try to get you to commit to paying for credit monitoring or some other service. It’s highly recommended that you stick to AnnualCreditReport.com since it is a trustworthy site.
You can go to AnnualCreditReport.com and get a free report from any or all of the bureaus. If you’re trying to repair your credit, it’s probably best to check all of them now so you can take action as soon as possible (especially right now since you can get the reports weekly). If you’re simply monitoring your credit, you might want to spread your reports throughout the year by pulling one at a time.
Review your credit report to see if you find any errors. If you do, gather evidence (such as account statements) to support your claim that the information is not accurate. The error may be only on the report from one bureau, or it may be on the reports from multiple bureaus. You should file a dispute with each bureau that is reporting the inaccuracy.
Dispute Software ($20-$200+)
There are a number of options if you’re interested in spending some money on software that may help to make the process a little easier or faster for you.
As was mentioned earlier, it’s important to note that this software does nothing that you can’t do on your own. However, you may find it to be helpful, especially if you’re unfamiliar with credit reports and/or filing disputes.
Paying for software is sort of a compromise between a free DIY approach and hiring a credit repair service to do the work for you.
Some of the options include:
Done-for-You Credit Repair ($40-$100 per month)
Although it’s possible to do your own credit report or use software for assistance, another option is to hire a professional to do the work for you. Credit repair services typically involve a monthly cost, and there may be a one-time setup fee as well. The total amount that you’ll pay will depend on how long it takes to get your credit report cleaned up (typically, several months to a year).
Unfortunately, credit repair is an industry that tends to attract a lot of scams. If you decide to hire someone to do the work for you, be sure to do your own due diligence and make sure you’re hiring someone who is legit. You should only hire a company that employs credit repair attorneys that are licensed in your own state.
Professional credit repair services will typically do the same things that you would do on your own (reviewing your credit report and disputing inaccuracies), but they may also provide you with some additional services like coaching you on credit management that can help you to build credit going forward.
Should I Pay for Credit Repair?
After you’ve evaluated your options, you’ll need to decide if you want to take the DIY approach, purchase software, or hire someone to do the work for you.
The decision really comes down to your time and your budget. The DIY approach is certainly very possible and you don’t need any experience to handle this task. However, if your time is extremely limited, you may want to consider software or hiring a professional.
If you have a little bit of time available, why not try the free DIY approach first and then use software or hire a professional if you see that the DIY approach is not the best fit for you?
Is Credit Repair Effective?
Credit repair can be very effective at cleaning up your credit report and improving your credit score. However, it really depends on your current report and the items that are on the report. If the negative items on your current report are accurate and verifiable, you may not see significant results.
Credit repair is not a cure for bad credit. Instead, it’s used to ensure that your credit score is as good as it should be and not being held back by inaccurate reporting.
If your goal is to increase your credit score, you should combine credit repair with an on-going approach to maintain good credit. Clean up the inaccuracies that may be hurting your score now, but continue to work towards paying all of your bills on time and maintaining a solid credit score in the future. Cleaning up your credit report now won’t do you a lot of good if you’re not careful to maintain your good credit moving forward.
How to Choose a Legit Credit Repair Service
Since there are so many scams in the credit and credit repair industries, you need to be careful if you plan to hire anyone to provide credit repair service. Here are a few things that you can do to avoid scams:
- Check the Better Business Bureau for ratings and complaints.
- Verify that the company will use state-licensed credit repair attorneys.
- Ask questions. Scammers usually try to avoid questions.
- Be wary of companies that promise to get accurate details removed.
- Get a contract in writing (required by the Credit Repair Organizations Act).
How Long Does Credit Repair Take?
Repairing your credit is a process that can take some time, but the length of time will vary depending on your own situation.
It’s possible that you could access and review your credit report today to spot any inaccuracies. You may need some time to gather evidence in order to support your case for a dispute. Of course, it takes time for those disputes to be processed and approved or declined.
Once a dispute is approved and an item is removed from your credit report, your score may change pretty quickly. It’s possible that you could take a DIY approach and fix some minor issues within a month.
If you have more serious issues, like if you’ve been the victim of identity theft, the process can be much more drawn out. The more disputes you have to file and the more proof that you have to provide, the longer it will take for your disputes to be reviewed and for your report to be completely accurate.
Regardless of whether you have minor issues or major issues that need to be addressed, the best approach is to start right now and get the process moving. The sooner you take action, the sooner your credit will be cleaned up, and the sooner you’ll be able to move forward.
Don’t be intimidated by the subject of credit repair. It may sound scary, but it’s really not that complicated. The DIY approach can save you a lot of money and there’s not much benefit to hiring a professional aside from saving some time, so don’t be afraid to give it a shot on your own.
To get started, get a free copy of your credit report and go through each item on the report to verify that the details are accurate, and of course, pay special attention to any of the negative items that may be hurting your score (like late payments, accounts in collection, bankruptcies, etc.).