Credit Repair Help: 3 Legit Ways to Rebuild Credit
Okay, so you’ve swiped your way into credit card hell. You can’t even meet the minimum payments. But don’t panic! Help is available for even the worst offenders.
How many times in life would we like a do-over? A clean slate sounds so comforting when it comes to foot-in-mouth moments or big mistakes. Virtually everyone I know would love a clean slate when it comes to debt and poor credit. We all know someone — or have been the person — who has called to explain they can’t make the minimum payment on their credit card and probably won’t be able to for months.
During the embarrassing explanation, you hope that the person on the other end will say something kind and become your miraculous, heaven-sent debt vanquisher. “Don’t worry,” they’ll say. “We understand. We will erase this debt, and your credit score will start anew. This happens to everyone. Have a nice day!” I can’t be the only person who’s had that daydream.
Seriously, though — there must be real ways to rebuild credit, even when you can’t make the minimum payment.
Many of us feel that the longer we can’t pay our credit card debt, the lower our score will go, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. But according to Gerri Detweiler, Education Director at Nav Technologies, Inc., there’s plenty we can do.
A Lesson in Credit
During long periods of unemployment, it’s natural to worry about credit score damage. Ironically, those with an average credit track record will likely see gentler drops compared to those with spotless track records.
“The stronger your credit score is, the more likely it is to drop significantly,” Detweiler says. It’s odd that the A-plus student would be more in jeopardy than the person making all Cs, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles when it comes to credit scores. The people with more of a history of negative information often see less of an impact to their scores when they miss minimum payments.
How to Get Credit Repair Help
Detweiler believes that the biggest problem many people face is struggling for too long before reaching out for help. She recommends reaching out to a credit counselor or even a bankruptcy attorney to ask about options. You don’t have to suffer for months, afraid to look at the monthly statements or ignoring the collection calls. Instead, be proactive and reach out to a qualified professional who may show you a way out of what you see as an impossible situation. So how can you get credit repair help?
1. Credit Builder Loan
Taking out a small credit builder loan can help you rebuild your credit score if you can’t pay back your minimum payment. With a credit builder loan, you’re essentially “borrowing” against a savings account. Once you’ve paid off that account, you’ll have access to the money in the savings account. “It’s a way to build credit and a savings account,” says Detweiler.
As time passes, our minimum payment can inflate to a number we can’t pay. Taking out a small credit builder loan and paying back small minimum payments there can increase your credit score despite the state of your credit card debt.
But, Detweiler cautions, “don’t spend a large amount of money on a temporary solution.” If you know the $300 in your pocket won’t get replenished in the following months, and this month’s payment will be the only one you can make for a while, it’s better to seek help.
2. Secured Credit Card
Opening another credit card when you’re already drowning in debt seems like a crazy idea. But a secured credit card greatly benefits those trying to build credit. The cash deposit you use for your secured credit card serves as your credit limit. As long as the secured credit card you sign up for reports to the three major credit bureaus, you’ll be well on your way to rebuilding your credit.
3. If All Else Fails, Settle
“You can always try to negotiate to pay less than the full balance,” says Detweiler. The further you fall behind, the happier lenders are to work with you, since the likelihood of getting paid drops as the debt gets older. Settling debt for less than the full balance will impact your credit score. There may also be tax implications, since the IRS may consider forgiven debt to be taxable income. Still, it can serve as a way to put your debt behind you and get a fresh start.