Compare Credit Repair
Why Is My Credit Bad?
Nearly a third of all Americans have a credit score lower than 601. Bad credit severely limits your options in modern life. Bad credit doesn’t just mean you’re paying hundreds of thousands of extra dollars over your lifetime in higher loan rates and insurance premiums, it also can stop you from buying the car or home you want, and paradoxically restrict access to more credit.
First of all, it’s true that you can fix your credit on your own. FTC law entitles you to one free copy of your credit report from all three bureaus every year. You can use online or print learning tools to scrutinize these reports and communicate directly over the phone or snail mail with each bureau to challenge each individual item. However, for many people this is entirely too time consuming, and paying for a credit repair service is the more attractive option.
More than anything else, we believe enlisting the aid of a credit repair agency should be an opportunity to gain some knowledge. Clearly, clients who are making use of credit repair are, like most people, not going to be that savvy or aware as to how credit scores work. This is why they’ve gotten themselves into the situation they are in in the first place. Credit scores may be a no brainer to those in the financial field, but most of us haven’t a clue how they are determined.
So Many Services
There are three credit bureaus, Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. There are a multitude of online entities offering free credit scores and snapshots of your credit profile. There are credit cards offering FICO scores, there are identity theft protection programs that monitor credit scores as part of their package, there are credit monitoring services that only monitor credit scores and nothing else, there are credit repair services, etc., etc.
Who does what? What are each of these agencies even allowed to do? Are they just for informational purposes or can they intervene with the 3 credit bureaus or the creditors themselves? What scores are they monitoring? What’s a true FICO score? Why can scores vary wildly depending on where you look?
It’s extremely perplexing and most people are likely to just throw up their hands in confusion.
However, the process by which your credit score is determined is not a mystery, and you can understand it with the right information and education. And the good news is, once you learn, you’ll know for the rest of your life.
That’s why we believe a good credit repair agency (or any entity you are using to fix your credit score, online or otherwise) should not just work alone like a machine humming along in the background, diligently working to restore your credit. A good credit repair company should work with the customer and ultimately explain how scores are determined, and also explain where the customer went wrong in the past and outline a plan for the future.
This is because, when you deal with a credit repair agency, you will quickly find there are actions to fix your credit that only they can take, but there are also a few things only the customer can do as well for themselves. But what’s more important than any action taken by agency or customer is the answer to this question: Does the service educate the client as to all the ins and outs of HOW CREDIT WORKS?
What A Credit Repair Agency Can Do:
Removing negative items like late or missed payments is the fastest way to improve your credit score.
It is your right that your credit report be 100% accurate, entirely fair, and fully substantiated. Many credit repair companies stop at step one, just working with the credit bureaus themselves to remove incorrect items. This is often done by presenting Experian, Transunion, or Equifax with documented proof (usually provided by you) that a given item is wrong to get it wiped clean.
The better, more thorough companies go that extra mile to make sure your reports are fair and substantiated. This required negotiating with the creditors or collection agencies themselves.
More often then not this is still done via the archaic method of snail mail. Generally the credit repair agency will not get a response from the credit bureau or creditor they are contacting for 30-60 days. The process takes time. So beware of any company that promises specific results (jump in points) fast. It is actually illegal for them to claim this.
Remove legitimate errors
The main function of a credit repair company is to get negative marks removed. If you have outright errors, these are the first ones they’ll go after. Including:
- Wrong information because of the credit agency confused names, addresses, social security numbers, etc.
- Negative marks due to identity theft
- Accounts that have been paid but still are showing up delinquent
- Accounts you’ve personally closed are showing up like the creditor closed them
- Info from ex spouse mixed in with yours
- One delinquent account listed as several because it was sold to multiple debt collectors
Verify negative items
If the creditor or bureau can’t verify items are 100% correct they must be removed. This is similar to challenging negative items but can also be used as kind of a legal loophole in certain situations. One of them would be if your negative mark is correct but the creditor has since gone out of business. The bureau would then not be able to verify the item and have to remove it.
This is where the best credit repair agencies really shine. If you have correct negative marks on your report there are certain tricks of the trade they can implement and loopholes they can exploit to get them removed. They don’t always work, but depending on the reputation and ability of the repair agency, they’ve got a much better chance getting these kinds of correct negative marks taken off than you do.
Some examples of appeals credit repair agencies can make on your behalf include:
- Medical illness
- Military service/deployment
- Court rulings
- Student status
- “Goodwill” interventions (an appeal to remove items usually citing timely payments since)
How we Compare Credit Repair
Level of Intervention
When you apply for credit or a loan, there is no telling which of the three bureaus the lender is going to use to check your credit. Your credit health is dependent on all three scores, so a given credit repair company must be able to negotiate with Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. Also, as mentioned in the overview, getting the bureaus to remove flat out errors is only the beginning. A credit repair service should also be persistent in escalating challenges. They should be able to oblige bureaus and creditors to verify all negative marks, and they should be able to provide options in removing negative marks that are correct.
- Number of challenges/month
- Do they negotiate with all 3 bureaus?
- Do they negotiate with creditors
- Remove errors on report
- Oblige creditors to verify negative marks
- Negotiate further on your behalf (i.e. goodwill interventions)
Online tools only go so far. The best credit repair services assign you an account manager and offer open communication with their repair experts as often as you like. Staff should be able to explain your situation, and make recommendations for the future tailored to your particular needs. They also should keep you up to date on the actions they are taking on your behalf, and fully explain what you need to do on your own.
- Dedicated account manager
- Live communication
- Level of expertise, lawyer, paralegal, credit expert (how are they certified)
- Is help unlimited?
- Hours of operation
This represents the meat and potatoes of a given credit repair company’s service. You firstly need to be able to get online and see a basic snapshot of your credit reports from all three bureaus. You need to see how your report stacks up in the five areas that determine your creditworthiness, and get analysis and recommendations on how to improve your standing in problem areas. Companies should also provide continuous monitoring and immediate alerts to changes and credit inquiries. Official FICO scores are also a big plus.
- Online account management
- Report summary for all 3 bureaus
- Credit analysis and recommendations
- Official FICO Score(s)
- Access to actual reports from all 3 bureaus
- Credit monitoring
- Text and email alerts
- Mobile App
Your credit won’t improve overnight. Because it takes at least 30 days to hear back from the bureaus and creditors, you probably won’t see any changes for a few months. Here we look at what companies charge monthly. Most companies offer an initial credit consultation for free, and then charge a one-time initial service payment thereafter. A contract is a bad idea. Once your credit has improved to your satisfaction you should be able to cancel anytime without penalty. A money back guarantee if the company can’t improve your credit is icing on the cake.
Keep in mind; the FTC prohibits any credit repair agency from charging anything before they start working on your behalf. So if someone is promising you a 50-point jump by tomorrow if you pay up now RUN FOR THE HILLS.
- Free Credit Consultation
- One time service payment
- Monthly rate
- Cancel anytime
- Cancel without penalty
- Additional Fees
- Money back guarantee
The company’s history or years in operation in particular is a good gauge of its success and reliability. BBB Grade, online reviews, and the correct credentials are also indicators.
- Years in Operation
- BBB Grade
- Credit Repair Organization Act
- Registered with the Attorney General
- Consumer Advocate Reviews
Full Credit Repair Comparison
|Level of Intervention||Communication||Features||Cost||Company Reputation|
|Lexington Law Credit Repair||9.9||9.0||10.0||10.0||10.0|
|Sky Blue Credit Repair||9.8||10.0||9.4||9.0||9.8|
|Credit Saint Credit Repair||9.8||9.9||9.4||9.0||9.5|
|The Credit People Credit Repair||10.0||9.0||9.3||8.9||8.5|
|The Credit Pros Credit Repair||8.5||8.5||8.5||9.0||9.0|
|Credit Solutions Experts Credit Repair||8.5||8.5||8.5||7.5||8.5|
|The Credit Assistance Network Credit Repair||8.5||8.0||8.0||8.5||8.5|
|Creditfirm Credit Repair||8.0||8.0||8.0||8.0||9.0|
|Pyramid Credit Repair||7.0||7.0||7.8||8.0||8.0|
|Ovation Credit Repair||7.0||7.0||6.0||6.0||6.0|
|Veracity Credit Consultants Credit Repair||7.0||7.0||6.0||6.0||5.0|
|MyCreditGroup Credit Repair||6.0||5.0||5.0||6.0||6.0|
What is on my credit report?
A credit report is a detailed history of your credit, what debts you owe and how reliable you are when paying back lenders. Your credit report includes your name, address, date of birth, your previous residences, and your Social Security Number, as well as any credit accounts you currently have open, closed credit accounts from your past, accounts in collection and more. Think of it as your financial report card.
What is my credit score and why is it important?
Your credit score quantifies the information in your credit report. This allows lenders to set a standard for loan approvals and quickly assess an applicant’s credit standing.
Not all lenders calculate credit scores the same way, and depending on the scoring model used your score can vary. However, most scoring models are very similar, so by looking at one credit score, you’ll get a general idea of what your score will be using another scoring method.
When you apply for a loan or a credit card, lenders will look at your credit score to determine your creditworthiness. If you have a high credit score, this suggests to lenders that you’ve been responsible about repaying debts on time and are likely to repay them as well. If your score is too low, lenders may increase your interest rate or deny you credit all together.
Who looks at my credit?
If you are applying for a loan or a line of credit, lenders may look at your report to determine creditworthiness, and calculate the interest rate you are eligible you are for.
Additionally, it is not uncommon for landlords to look at your credit to determine whether you will be a responsible tenant, and utility providers may require a credit check to make sure you will pay for services promptly. Employers will sometimes look at potential employees’ credit to get a better understanding of how responsible they are. While these are the most common situations, there are others. These days it seems your credit is used for almost everything.
Is credit repair worth it?
Your credit is essentially your financial reputation and because it is used for so much, credit repair services is absolutely worth considering if yours is bad. Often times lenders require a score of 600 or more in order to get a loan, and the better your credit is from there, the lower your interest rate will be (meaning you can save hundreds or thousands over the life of your loan).
It doesn’t take much to hurt your credit score, so working with someone to understand how to care for your credit is also a helpful tool to those who are just getting started using credit, or those who are trying to build it back up after a few mistakes.
With credit, it's never too late to change your habits and your score. Your credit history goes back 7-10 years, which often feels like a long time, but the sooner you start making good credit choices, the sooner you'll start seeing your score increase.