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Money Smart

Repair and Improve My Credit

Last Updated: April 9, 2021

You can use these strategies to repair and improve your credit.

Get and review your credit reports

  • Go to AnnualCreditReport.com for the free credit reports you are entitled to every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. Plus, you can now request weekly credit reports for free through at least April 20, 2022.  Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for the latest information.

Dispute and correct any errors

  • On your credit reports, look for inaccurate information, information that does not belong to you, and outdated information still being reported.

Make sure anything that is in the collection account section of your reports belongs to you

  • If something appears in the collection account section, make sure it is not also reported in another section.

Pay all of your bills on time and as agreed

  • Paying late, even once, can damage your credit. Always try to pay at least the minimum amount every time a payment is due. Pay more than the minimum whenever possible.

If you have credit cards, use as little of your credit limit as possible

  • Carrying high balances on credit cards compared to available credit limits can significantly reduce credit scores.
  • Some experts advise using no more than 30% of your available credit while others advise using no more than 20%.
  • While keeping balances at or below those percentages may be a goal that you cannot reach right now, it helps to use as little of your credit limit as possible.

Use a credit-building strategy

You can learn about strategies to build your credit by reviewing the tool: Build My Credit. That tool includes details about options such as:

  • Getting secured credit cards
  • Getting credit-building loans
  • Becoming an authorized user on an account
  • Getting a cosigner

Keep old accounts open if you can

  • Older accounts create a longer credit history. If you close an older account, you may shorten your credit history which can have a negative effect on your credit scores.

Apply for credit only if you really need it

  • Applications for credit create inquiries on your credit reports.
  • Too many inquiries on your credit reports can negatively affect your credit scores.

Negotiate different terms

  • Find out if you can increase your credit limit on revolving accounts (such as credit card accounts or lines of credit) or ask for lower interest rates.
  • Changes can improve your credit and make your credit more affordable.

Ask for a “good will” deletion

  • If you have paid your bills on time and as agreed with a creditor, but missed a payment or two, you may be able to negotiate a deletion of the negative entry.
  • If this doesn’t work, ask what else could be done to prevent the late payment(s) from being reported to a credit reporting agency.