You may have experienced financial difficulties in the past that prevented you from settling some of your bills and credit lines. Unfortunately, those hurt your credit score. Now, things may have gone well for you, and you want to get a car loan or move to a new place. However, negative items on your credit history still pull your credit score down and affect your chances of getting approved for credit. Even when you’re approved for a loan, you’ll likely be charged with higher interest rates because the lenders try to minimize the risks.
Other negative consequences of poor credit record are:
- Higher homeowner or auto insurance rates
- Paying security deposits on utilities
- More expensive cell phone contract
- Fewer rental options
- Loss job opportunities
You wonder, “How much will my credit score increase if a negative item is removed?” How can I repair my low credit score?
How Can You Remove Negative Items From Your Credit Report Yourself?
Aside from rebuilding your credit to improve your score, you can remove negative items from your credit report. Once these are resolved, you’ll see the change reflected in your report and your score improved in 30 to 45 days. It’s not easy to do it yourself, but here are your options:
1. Submit a Dispute to the Credit Bureau or Your Creditor
As mentioned above, mistakes in your credit report can hurt your score. You can submit a dispute to the credit bureau, creditor, or collections agency to verify if the debt belongs to you. If they can’t confirm it after investigating, request for the deletion of that item from your credit report.
2. Offer a Pay-for-delete Deal with the Collections
If your account has been delinquent for 90 days or more, the creditor usually sells your account to collections agencies to minimize their losses. Collection agencies are paid when they successfully recover a default account. You can take advantage of that by contacting the assigned collection and offering a pay-for-delete deal. That means that they will remove the negative account from your credit report in exchange for your payment.
3. Request a Goodwill Deletion
While you can leverage your willingness to pay to get a deal with your creditor to remove a negative item, when you’ve already paid, you can no longer negotiate. What you can do is to send a letter to your creditor, requesting to delete a negative item out of goodwill. You need to convince them to help you, such as by pointing out how long you’ve been a good customer to them and assuring them that you’ll keep your accounts updated moving forward.
4. Hire a Credit Repair Agency
Trying to remove a negative item from your credit report is not an easy task, so it’s better to hire a credit repair agency. If you don’t know your way around this ordeal, a credit report company can do the tasks on your behalf.
What Factors Affect Your Credit Score?
Several factors affect your credit score: payment history, credit utilization ratio (amount of your current revolving debt vs. your credit limit), credit history length, types of credit, and new credit. The points added to your credit score also depend on the age of the negative item.
Ideally, your FICO score, the credit score that most lenders use to determine eligibility/risk for loans, should be between 670 to 739. Those are good scores for many lenders. If your score is 740 to 799, lenders see you as a dependable borrower, and scores above 800 mean you’re an exceptional borrower.
Scores between 580 and 669 are considered fair ratings, and many lenders still approve loans. Anything below 580 and you’re considered high risk, so lenders don’t approve your loans.
1. Your Payment History
Payment history is the most influential factor in your FICO score. It accounts for 35 percent of your credit score, so a missed payment for over 30 days can pull down your rating. What’s more, late payments will remain on your records for seven years before they fall off.
How many points does a collection drop your credit score? If you defaulted on an account and it goes to the collections, you lose about 110 points.
2. Your Credit Utilization Ratio
Credit utilization ratio, which refers to how much credit you use over the total credit limits you have, makes up 30 percent of your credit score. The total debt you owed is highly influential in FICO scoring.
3. How Long Your Credit History Is
The length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO score. The longer you’ve held your credit accounts, the higher your credit score is.
4. The Types of Accounts You Have
The credit mix that you have can influence your credit score by 10 percent. If your record shows you manage a diverse portfolio of credit accounts well, it’s good for your credit score.
How Can You Improve Your Credit Score?
The negative items that will appear in your credit record are late payments, repossession, bankruptcy, foreclosure, hard inquiries, tax liens, charge-off accounts, and settled accounts. Most of these can take seven years before they’re written off your credit history; bankruptcy and unpaid tax liens stay on your record for 10 years based on the statute of limitations.
When they fall off your record, however, they do little to improve your credit score. The older the debt, the lesser it matters. So, what you have to deal with first are the recent accounts. Settling a 60 to a 90-day delinquent account can boost your credit score even better. How many points and how fast you can increase your credit score depends on the factors discussed above.
Here are some tips on how you can boost your credit score:
1. Be Current with Your Current Accounts
One of the best ways to improve your credit score is to make sure that you pay your current bills on time. That includes your monthly utility bills and cell phone payments. If you have overdue bills, update your payments and make sure you settle them on-time from then on. It can take about two months or more before you see improvements in your credit score, depending on how bad your credit record is.
You should also pay collections accounts, although it won’t improve your score right away. They would appear as “paid” or “settled” in your record and will be viewed more favorably by creditors compared to unpaid ones. It will show lenders that you’re financially responsible when you pay severely past due debts.
2. Dispute any Inaccuracies in Your Credit Report
Sometimes, inaccurate details are included in your credit report, and such mistakes can lead to low scores. Make sure that you check for these and send a dispute to the credit bureau concerned. You’ll see improvements in your FICO score in a month or two once the mistakes are removed.
3. Don’t Use All Your Credit Limits
Ideally, you should keep your credit card balances between 10 to 30 percent of the credit limit. Don’t forget to pay them on time, and after a few months, you may call your provider to increase your allowed limit. That doesn’t mean you should spend more, but instead, pay for your existing debt without adding a new one. The increased credit limit will also help you increase your debt utilization ratio, and therefore, your credit score.
4. Don’t Send Multiple Credit Applications
Understandably, you want to shop around and be considered by many lenders. However, instead of increasing your chances of getting approved for a loan, sending several credit applications at the same period can hurt your credit score because of multiple inquiries. That’s because the lender may think you are actually borrowing from several organizations rather than just shopping around and that represents greater credit risks. Try not to open new accounts for two years to improve your credit score.
5. Become an Authorized User
You may ask your family or friends with good credit history to make you an authorized user of their credit cards. They don’t have to allow you to actually use their cards—simply adding your name as an authorized user can benefit your credit history.
6. Consider a Secured Credit Card
A secured credit card requires a cash deposit, which serves as your credit limit and collateral. It provides your creditor with security in case you can’t make payments. This credit line will help improve your credit history as long as you pay what you owe on time.
7. Keep Your Accounts Open
When you’re having financial problems, you might think that closing your accounts is the best way to go. On the contrary, doing so will hurt your score. Remember, the length of your credit history affects your score, so it’s best to keep an account open for as long as possible, especially if they’re in good standing.
Moreover, when you close a defaulted account, it will remain on your credit history for seven years, which doesn’t benefit you significantly. Meanwhile, a closed account with on-time payment records will be shown on your credit report for 10 years to give you recognition for keeping them updated before.
Things in life happen beyond your control, severely affecting your financial capabilities and hurting your credit score. Still, it’s not the end—your current credit score is not permanent! You might not improve your credit score right away, but taking the necessary steps as outlined above can boost your rating over time.
It’s never too late to catch up with your payments and add positive items on your credit history if you have the means now. Make sure that you pay your current dues on-time consistently to rebuild your credit.
We hope that the tips herein will greatly assist you in improving your credit score. It would be prudent to seek further appropriate assistance from professionals to achieve this—most credit repair agencies offer an initial free consultation, so you know what your options are.
Are you trying to rebuild your credit score now? What are your challenges and tips for other people going through the same ordeal? We’d love to hear from you in the comment box below!