How Much Does Credit Repair Cost?
Did you know that you can repair your credit by yourself for free. However to save time, you can pay a credit repair company to help you.
Repairing your credit doesn't cost anything if you do it yourself. If you hire a credit repair company to assist you, however, you'll have to pay fees, which can range widely. This article provides a guide to the costs and what you get for your money.
How Credit Repair Works
Credit repair is the process of removing inaccurate, unfavorable information from your credit reports. That may, in turn, raise your credit score. You can take steps to repair your credit for free or pay someone to help you.
The first step in repairing your credit is to get copies of your credit reports. By law, you're entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—at least once every 12 months. To get your reports, visit the official website, AnnualCreditReport.com.
Note that the information on your credit reports is likely to be similar from one bureau to another but not necessarily identical. That's because some creditors don't report your transactions to all three bureaus.
The next step is to review your credit reports for inaccurate information, such as late or missing payments that you believe you made on time. You'll also want to make sure that there are no accounts listed on your credit reports that you don't recognize. If there are, that may be a sign of identity theft, or that someone has opened credit accounts in your name.
If you find errors, you can challenge them. The major credit bureaus explains the steps you'll need to take on their websites.
If the information in a credit report is accurate, you typically cannot change it. You will likely have to wait until enough time has passed that the information is no longer included in your credit report, which can take several years.
What Do Credit Repair Companies Do
A credit repair company doesn't do everything for you. Its primary role is to develop a plan for repairing your credit and helping you, or acting on your behalf, to dispute inaccurate information. Some also offer a package of related services, such as credit monitoring.
While some credit repair companies are national, others operate only in certain states.
Each company has its own pricing structure. In general, the companies bundle their services into packages and charge monthly fees. Prices can range from about $20 to $150 per month, depending on the services you sign up for. There may also be set-up or enrollment fees, as well as cancellation fees. Some, but not all, companies offer a money-back guarantee.
Once you sign up with a credit repair company, it may be several months before you see results. It usually takes up to six months, or longer, for your credit to be totally repaired. What's more, errors that have been corrected may reappear on your credit report for various reasons, so you should check your reports periodically even if you believe they have been fixed and challenge that information again.
Important: Any credit repair organization that claims it can get negative, but accurate, information removed from your credit report is probably a scam.
How Long Does it Take to Repair Your Credit?
The amount of time it takes to fix your credit will depend on how soon you report errors to the relevant credit bureaus and how quickly the bureaus act to investigate and correct them. That might mean at least two or three months. Apart from any errors, you can improve your credit fairly quickly by making sure you pay all of your bills on time. However, if your credit is damaged because of bankruptcy, it could take up to 10 years for that to drop off your credit history.
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Why is Repairing Your Credit Important?
Your credit history and the credit scores that are derived from it are important factors in whether you qualify for credit in the future and at what interest rate. When you have better credit, you can get lower interest rates and save money in the long term. Monitoring your credit reports periodically can help ensure they are accurate and give you an opportunity to challenge any damaging errors you find.
The Bottom Line
Repairing your credit doesn't have to cost you anything. You can handle the process yourself by following the step-by-step instructions on the three major credit bureaus' websites. If you want help, you can hire a credit repair company to assist you. They generally charge anywhere from $19 to $149 a month for their services. But beware of scam credit repair offers, which may leave you in worse financial shape than before.
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