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50 Smart Money Moves | NextAdvisor with TIME

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You have to do it yourself.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from the financial devastation wrought by coronavirus in 2020, let it be this: Help is out there, but it’s not just going to come to you. 

This year, you can take that literally. As Americans who’ve spent the past few months social distancing are well aware, at the end of the day you’re on your own. And though there are a range of relief programs available to the millions who’ve been knocked off course financially, nearly all come with the same string attached.

“You have to ask for it — and ask the right way,” as Liz Weston of NerdWallet recently put it

Under the federal government’s stimulus act, for example, if you’ve been affected by COVID-19 you have the right to take an “accommodation” from your credit card issuer, which can include waived late fees, lower interest rates, or even the ability to skip payments — without negatively affecting your credit report. But in order to get that accommodation, you have to do the legwork by calling your credit card issuer and asking for it. 

Likewise, the same law gives you the right to request a forbearance on a federally backed mortgage for at least 180 days, meaning you can skip payments without accruing late fees or additional interest. Those payments might be due in one lump sum at the end of the six months, or you might be able to tack them on to the end of your term — but again, you have to call your lender and ask. 

It’s not just government programs. In March, Ally Bank’s auto financing division said it would give new customers a break on their first payment for 90 days. Bank of America said it would defer loan payments and add them to the end of the term. TD Bank said it would waive fees for cashing out CD accounts before full maturity. But in each case — you guessed it — you had to call and ask. 

The government is adding an extra $600 to weekly unemployment benefits through July. That’s automatic … if you can manage to get benefits in the first place. Getting through to state unemployment offices has become a Herculean effort as archaic systems suddenly get swamped. In fact, relatively few relief programs were automatic. Stimulus checks were, within certain income limits, as were forbearance programs for federal (but not private) student loans. 

Otherwise, it’s on you. And in a way, personal finance experts say, that’s how it’s always been. No one is going to look after your finances the way you would — not a broker, a CPA, or financial advisor. And certainly not the government. 

“That was my goal when I opened up the Suze Orman Financial Group: to make people as independent from people like me as possible,” says the personal finance author and podcaster Suze Orman. “When I started my firm, [my clients] had to go to Charles Schwab and open up their own account. They would pay me an advisory fee. I didn’t manage money — because I wanted them to understand that they could manage their own money.” 

“If you want to find the best financial advisor in the world, look in the mirror,” Orman says. “Because nobody’s gonna care about your money more than you.”

Orman says she hopes those who have been forced to dig themselves out of a financial hole this year won’t forget how hard it is — and strive to put themselves in a position where they don’t have to depend on other people next time.

If you’re ready to take control over your money this year, here are 50 expert-approved places to start.

With reporting by Kara Cutruzzula. Illustrations by Elisa Faye.

Check Out Credit Counseling Services

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You don’t have to wade through a difficult financial situation on your own. Whether you have a large amount of high-interest debt or simply want advice on budgeting and saving, a certified credit counselor can provide you with free or low-cost one-on-one advice. Commonly offered through nonprofits, credit counseling is a low-risk option that helps you get a clearer view of your financial situation. Consolidated Credit launched Shutdown Hotline, a free phone service that offers debt analysis and referral to COVID-19-specific resources. And the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) is also offering free credit counseling services devoted to assisting people in light of the pandemic.

Crunch Your ‘Survival Number’

Many people are buckling down on saving right now — how low can you go? To determine your “survival number,” add up all the monthly costs of your bare minimum essentials: rent, food, health care, etc. You don’t necessarily have to live on your survival budget, and calculating one doesn’t mean you’re embracing a scarcity mindset. In fact, there’s power in knowing how resourceful you can be, writes NextAdvisor contributor Jully-Alma Taveras, creator of the YouTube channel Investing Latina. Jully-Alma’s survival number is $581; use her downloadable spreadsheet to figure out yours.

Open a Bill Account

This is ideal if you often find yourself paying your bills late or getting into debt. Sierra Howard of @IDontDoBudgets recommends creating a dedicated bill account by calculating all your fixed monthly expenses and adding a $50 cushion (to avoid overdraft fees). Set up a separate checking account, make a monthly direct deposit into it for the total amount, and put your bills on auto-pay from this same account. Consider it off-limits and for bills only.

Fix Mistakes on Your Credit Report

New this year: The three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are allowing you to check your credit report for free on a weekly basis until April 2021. Make the request at annualcreditreport.com, then take 15 minutes to run through your credit report and make sure your information is correct. About one in 5 consumers has a mistake on their credit report, according to a Federal Trade Commission report from 2013, and some errors will cost you extra money on loans or insurance policies. Plus, with new debt forbearance options being extended due to COVID-19 hardship, there’s even more reason to do an accuracy check. Those accommodations should not be reflected on your report as derogatory. If you find a mistake, use our email template to fire off a complaint; the credit bureaus will be legally mandated to investigate it.

Set Up Banking Alerts

If you avoid looking at your account balances because it stresses you out, you’re missing out on an opportunity to be more intentional with your spending. Sometimes it’s better to let the information come to you: Go to your online banking platform and set an email or mobile alert for every credit card charge or account debt. You may spot expenses you didn’t even know about, like recurring subscriptions.

Try a New Budgeting Strategy

Chances are, your budget went out the window this year. Whether you’ve taken a hit on income or shifted your spending habits under lockdown, it’s probably a good time to check in on your finances. One tactic worth trying: zero-based budgeting. It forces you to designate a purpose for every dollar you earn, so it’s a great way to reset your intentions around saving and debt management. “Broke Millennial” author (and NextAdvisor contributor) Erin Lowry says it’s particularly useful for people with irregular income.

Hit Pause on Your Mortgage

It’s something to consider — with caveats. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) has made it easier for most homeowners to enter forbearance programs, essentially suspending or reducing mortgage payments for up to a year, without damaging their credit scores or incurring special fees. Those with federally backed mortgages can go down this road by calling their lenders, but you should know about the tradeoffs first. Interest will still accrue and you will need to make up missed payments in the future.

Apply for Expanded Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are a crucial safety net in times of crisis. For the first time, many self-employed workers, independent contractors, and part-time workers are eligible for benefits, thanks to the CARES Act’s provision for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The stimulus package also added an extra $600 weekly benefit to any eligible claims, though that’s set to expire at the end of July. Filing for benefits can be tricky and time-consuming, especially since states are catching up on a backlog of applications. If you think you’re eligible, we recommend filing online and being prepared with the necessary information.

Quit Smoking

Everyone knows it’s an expensive habit, and COVID-19 has given us a new incentive to keep our lungs healthy. In the U.S., the average price of a pack of cigarettes is $6.28. Use this calculator to determine how much money quitting will save you weekly, monthly, even after 20 years, based on how many cigarettes you smoke a day and the cost of a pack in your area.

Call Your Lenders

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If you can’t afford to pay your bills right now, it pays to be proactive. Many credit card issuers and lenders are working out deals with people who have lost income due to the pandemic, and experts say it’s in your best interest to be transparent about your situation before you fall behind. Call your lenders, explain your circumstances, and ask about any hardship programs they have in place. They might lower your interest rates, allow you to skip or defer payments, or pay later with additional interest, all of which are better options than skipping payments altogether. Liz Weston offers useful talking points here. And as Ron Lieber at the New York Times recommends, document your conversations to make sure your lenders follow through on what they say.

Get Help with Home Buying

Believe it or not, the housing market is still churning, and many Americans are moving forward with their dreams of becoming first-time homeowners. If that’s the case for you, consider whether there are any special loans, grants, or assistance programs you can take advantage of. We talked to Olivia Bernard, a 23-year-old who bought her first home in Georgia in part thanks to multiple assistance programs. Check out this list of resources, which has links to first-time home buyer services in every single state.

Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card

If you’re having trouble paying down your credit card debt because the interest portion is high and you have good credit, you might be a candidate for a balance transfer. Many of these cards offer an introductory 0% APR, meaning you can give yourself time to pay off the debt without interest. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, credit card issuers are a bit nervous about extending credit, making access and incentives less available than before the pandemic. But if you’ve got a high credit score (around 670 or higher), it’s a financial tool worth considering. Be aware this move often comes with fees: It can cost between 3% and 5% of your balance to transfer your debt to the new card.

Redirect Your Savings

How different are your spending habits today compared to six months ago? With many recreational activities ruled out because of the lockdown, one smart tactic is to take all the money you were spending on a gym membership, eating out, travel, and social activities, and funnel it into a high-yield savings account or paying down debt. Not only will you get a better sense of where you want to spend your money again when you’re able), but you’ll feel like you accomplished something when your favorite activities do return.

Build Your Emergency Fund

This one’s important. Building a savings cushion is a fundamental step toward financial wellness — one that can protect you in tough times and help you grab opportunities in good times. This year’s sudden unemployment crisis shows us not only how useful an emergency fund is, but how hard it is to achieve. Don’t be overwhelmed, though. Start small with a goal that feels reasonable to you. Putting even a few dollars away every month for the future can become a lifeline during extreme circumstances. Check out our emergency fund guide for more inspiration.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Homeowners: If you have job security and expect to be in your home for more than a few years, now could be the time to take advantage of low mortgage rates. The government has lowered both short- and long-term interest rates to encourage investments and keep the market stable. These rates give homeowners the opportunity to lower their monthly mortgage payments, adjust their loan term, or get a fixed-rate mortgage instead of a variable-rate mortgage. Don’t be afraid to shop around and compare rates from various lenders to make sure you’re getting a good deal. And don’t rush it — low interest rates are here to stay for a while, experts say.

Get a Spotify Discount

This one is from our friends over at @financesnacks on Instagram: You can save $12 a month by switching to a Spotify family account and splitting the cost among five people.

 

 

Follow the Experts

Make your screen time a bit more productive by adding a dose of money inspiration to your feed. Danetha Doe has one mission: to elevate the self-worth and net worth of women. NextAdvisor contributing editor Farnoosh Torabi answers questions and interviews notable guests three times a week on her podcast “So Money.” And Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche says she has helped more than 800,000 women save more and pay off debt.  

Return One Item

Look around your house or apartment. Is there anything you recently purchased that you haven’t opened or used because it wasn’t quite what you imagined or needed? Don’t let it sit there. Fill out the return form to get your money back, then arrange to have it picked up or drop it off at the post office if possible. There’s no point in eating the cost of something you’re not going to use.

Borrow From Your 401(k) — But Only If You Have To

This is usually a big no-no, but tough times require tough moves. Taking money out of your 401(k) or other retirement account can pull you off track from your long-term goals and lock in market losses, but personal finance experts say it can be a better move than taking on unmanageable debt right now. That’s partly because the calculus has changed in 2020, with federal stimulus legislation waiving the usual steep penalties that come from tapping your 401(k) early. Read up on the new rules and see if this is the right move for you.

Check Your Subscriptions

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Maybe you signed up for a cable channel for one sporting event, or subscribed to an online program when you needed to learn a certain skill. But are they still relevant to your life now? A quick scan through a credit card bill can help you discover any recurring subscriptions and monthly payments that you no longer need. Take a few minutes to cancel them and consider all the money you’re saving.

Stay Away From Credit Repair Companies

Building good credit is essential to your financial health, and poor credit will cost you. So it might seem tempting to hire a credit repair company that promises to do the work of repairing your credit score for you. Many such companies have stepped up their advertising outreach during the pandemic. But beware: These companies aren’t worth the cost, and you can do everything they promise to do by yourself — for free.

Choose a ‘No-Spend Day’

This is easier than you think, especially if you’re spending a lot of time in your home. Pick one day of the week where you commit to spending zero dollars — no ordering takeout or buying anything online. If all goes well, repeat the following week.

Upcycle Something in Your House

If you want to cut back on shopping, you can still get creative. The Instagram account @upcyclethat features tutorials to transform everyday or discarded objects into something new.

Get Credit for Your Work

Your credit report follows you for life, and it tracks your financial history in obsessive detail. Then, banks use the information on your report to calculate your credit score, a three-digit number that determines what kind of terms you’ll get on financial products like mortgages or insurance policies. Before the stakes are too high, like when you’re applying for a car loan, get familiar with how your credit score is calculated. The formula’s not a secret, and with enough time and patience you can manipulate it. Plus, the same behaviors that will boost your credit score are also likely to get you in better financial shape.

Join an Online Community

Sometimes it’s helpful to know that other people are going through a similar situation. The free online network Ladies Get Paid has thousands of members offering help on finding a job or looking for a mentor, and NPR’s Facebook community Your Money or Your Life features advice from members on saving and investing.

Funnel Your Transportation Cash

Subway ridership in New York is down 92%, which means thousands of people are saving money usually spent on their daily commute — as much as $127 per month, if you typically buy a 30-day MetroCard. The same goes for car-friendly cities, too. Rather than spend that savings elsewhere, take the money usually spent on gas or public transportation and earmark it for a future use.

Choose the Right Bank Account

Saving money is hard. Don’t make it harder by using the wrong type of bank account. Your four main options are a savings account; a checking account; a certificate of deposit, or CD; and a money market account, or MMA. Check out our guide to choosing the right one, which is all about finding the optimal balance of interest rate, liquidity, and fees. And remember you can use a mix of accounts that suit your goals, such as CDs for a future down payment and a high-yield savings for an emergency fund.

Get Obsessed With Online Books

Your bookstore or local library might be closed, but their digital resources aren’t. Many library systems are connected to apps like OverDrive and Libby, which allow you to check out digital books from home — for free. Plus, signing up for a library card has never been easier and can usually be done from home.

Spend Your Credit Card Points

If you have a rewards credit card that racks up points with every dollar spent, now may be the time to cash them in. Maybe you were saving those points to redeem on a big trip — but if that no longer looks likely, you can instead use them to shop on your Amazon account, spend them at other stores on necessities you would have bought anyway, or even get cash back.

Use the 5-Second Rule

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One trick to move forward on your money matters is to use the “5 Second Rule” created by author and talk show host Mel Robbins. It’s simple: When you have an instinct to act on one of your financial goals, Robbins says you have to do it immediately — or else your brain will find a way to shut it down. So if you want to be proactive, count backwards: 5-4-3-2-1. When you reach “1,” take action. Check your accounts, look at your taxes, resist the impulse purchase. Counting down and giving yourself that window of time can distract you from worries and excuses.

Finish That Course You Already Bought

Maybe you wanted to learn a new skill or finally committed to buying the Malcolm Gladwell MasterClass six months ago, but then never actually started it. Now’s the time, according to Tonya Rapley of @MyFabFinance. You can calculate what you already spent on the course, and tell yourself you’re getting that money back — plus new knowledge — when you complete the course.

Check Out High-Yield Savings Accounts

The current national average savings rate is a measly 0.07% — but you can earn 10 times that by choosing a high-yield savings account with an online bank. If you’re fortunate to have some savings, or you’re working on building them up, consider moving that cash to a high-yield online savings account such as the ones offered by Ally and Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Your money will still be relatively accessible, but it’ll earn much more interest than it would in a traditional bank account. Compare your options, taking care to find the highest interest rate without any monthly maintenance fees or minimum balances.

Consider a New Student Loan Schedule

If you have a federal student loan, your payments have been suspended from March 13 to September 20, 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. This temporary relief can be extremely helpful if your income has gone down. Keep in mind that in most cases, interest will keep accruing even while you sit out payments. If your income hasn’t been affected in recent months, and you can afford it, continue making payments. And if you need your payments to be more manageable in the long term, you can talk to your loan servicer about an income-driven repayment plan, in which your monthly payment is based on your income — and in some cases can be driven down to $0.

Become a Contact Tracer

Increased testing and tracing are two strategies for preventing the further spread of COVID-19 — and contact tracing is one of the fastest-growing jobs right now. It involves calling people who came into contact with confirmed positive patients, checking symptoms, and referring them to nearby resources. Qualifications vary by state and can range from having a high school diploma to a college degree, but tracing is usually fully remote and ranges from $17 to $22 an hour. Take this free course offered by Johns Hopkins University and look up the job requirements in your state.

Work on Your Estate Plan

Nobody likes to talk about death, but you’ll do yourself and your family a huge favor if you get your affairs in order while you’re healthy. If you don’t have a will or other estate documents, consider doing it now. Working with an attorney to draw up basic documents can cost between $500 to $1,000, advises CBS News business analyst and NextAdvisor contributor Jill Schlesinger — or there are online services like Quicken WillMaker & Trust, which costs around $90. Think of it as the smartest money move you can make for the future.

Negotiate Your Cell Phone Plan

How much data do you use per month? How many texts do you send? The cell phone plan you signed up for two years ago might not be as relevant to your life today. Log in to your account, check your usage, and call — yes, call — your cell phone company to negotiate your bill or adjust your plan. Knocking even $10 off a month will add up.

Talk to Your Landlord

Typically, this isn’t the most enticing idea, but when rent takes up an average of 35% of your income, it’s a good place to look for savings. If you’re renting and plan to stay through your lease, or possibly extend, and you’ve been a model tenant so far, try asking the owner to knock some dollars off your rent. With many people plotting to move elsewhere or outside bigger cities, they might rather keep a good tenant than risk searching for a new one. You’ll gain even more leverage if you team up with your neighbors and negotiate as a group.

Make Your Contributions Count

If you’re donating to a nonprofit or social justice organization like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, try to make your money go even further. Many employers have a charitable match program — if they do, your money could go twice as far. Ask your HR department if you can’t find any details. Plus, keep an eye out on social media, because some generous individuals are offering to personally match donations if you share a screenshot of yours.

Avoid These Home-Buying Mistakes

If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future, get educated on the money traps you might face. Putting down a small down payment, buying a house you can’t afford, failing to get a preapproval, getting the wrong kind of mortgage … there’s a lot to look out for. That’s why we asked Chris Hogan, author and personal finance expert, to walk us through the eight most common mistakes that first-time home buyers make.

Buy a Bike

With public transportation seeing record low ridership during lockdown, many are turning to alternate forms of getting around. Consider investing in a bicycle — not only can it save you money when it comes to subway fare or putting gas in the car, but it’s a cheaper form of exercise than a gym membership. Fair warning: Other people have had the same idea, and many bicycle companies are reportedly backlogged.

Find a New Go-To Cheap Meal

Trade In Your Electronics

If you’re in the market for a new phone, don’t forget about the one you already have. Apple has a trade-in program that offers up to $500 credit for certain devices, which can be used on a new purchase or as future store credit. You can also trade in an old computer for credit via the Apple website or, starting mid-June, in Apple’s retail stores. The trade-in program extends to tablets and watches, too. For other phones, Verizon offers a trade-in program, as does T-Mobile.

Automate, Automate, Automate

If you have a pang of fear every month and ask yourself, “When’s the credit card due? Is my electric bill paid? How much should I put into savings every month?” do yourself a favor and automate most – if not all — of your online bills and investments. Setting up automatic payments once will save you time, energy, and — yes — money every month (those late fees add up). Just make sure you’re adding enough cushion to your checking account to avoid any overdraft fees.

Sell Your Old Stuff

If lockdown encouraged you to go through your closet, you can list and sell some of your old clothes on a site like ThredUp, which calls itself the world’s largest online secondhand shopping destination — and recently partnered with Walmart to expand its e-commerce resale options. If you have more than just clothes, LetGo is another marketplace where you can connect with buyers.

Check in on Your Retirement Plan

“With so many other pressing financial demands — combined with living through a global pandemic and likely recession — it’s completely understandable why you may scoff at the notion of retirement,” writes Erin Lowry. But ignoring this situation now will only make things harder in the future. Assuming you’re able to meet your essential needs right now, Lowry breaks down a few smart tactics for keeping your retirement planning on track.

Charge More

No, not on your credit card. If you’re self-employed, a small business owner, or a freelancer, take a hard look at the rates for your services. When’s the last time you increased them or gave yourself a raise? Not all industries are down this year—if you have clients who are weathering the recession, consider starting the conversation. This applies to full-time workers too. Budgeting and saving hacks will get you far, but earning more will truly power up your finances.

Do Your Taxes

This year, Tax Day was postponed until July 15, giving people a little extra time to pull together their documents and file. But if you’re still putting it off, don’t wait: Since a majority of people get refunds every year, think of it as money waiting to be received.

Nail Down Your Emergency Fund Target

Every single expert says you should have an emergency fund. But once you dig into the details, there’s a lot less agreement. Should you sock away $1,000? Three months of expenses? A year of expenses? The truth is that the answer depends on many individual factors, like your job security, your goals, and even your age. We polled 11 different personal finance experts for their recommendations — and got 11 different answers. See which emergency fund target is right for you, and let that number be your guide as your work toward your savings goals.

Stop Betting on the Lottery

The average American spends nearly $70 a month on lottery tickets and betting pools, according to research released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last year. For older Americans, that figure is even higher: up to $132 per month. If you’re one of the people driving up those averages, compare the long odds of hitting the jackpot with the guaranteed interest rate you’d get on that money if you put it into a high-yield savings account.

Get a Deal on a Car

It’s not wise to rush into any big purchase, especially a car. But the recent bankruptcy of rental-car company Hertz has flooded the market with relatively cheap used cars, and experts say you may be able to get a steal of a deal. If you need to finance the purchase, make sure you can manage the debt. Author Suze Orman says a good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t finance a car unless you can afford to pay it off completely within 3 years.



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Why Did My Credit Score Just Drop? 6 Common Reasons

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Your three-digit credit score can be the difference between being approved for a new financial product with strong terms versus being stuck with sky-high interest rates — or worse, denied altogether. So it can be incredibly frustrating when you think you’re doing well financially, only to find that your score has dropped.

Credit scores function as a snapshot of your credit history that helps lenders — and often landlords — determine how much risk you pose as a borrower or renter. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rates and larger your credit limits will be, while the opposite is true the lower your score is. But credit scores also frequently change, and sometimes not for any obvious reason.

“Scores fluctuate all the time depending on how the information in your credit history is evolving and changing,” says Rod Griffin, senior director of consumer education and advocacy at Experian.

Here are the six most common problems that can lower your credit score, according to Griffin:

1. You’ve missed payments

The most common reason that peoples’ credit scores have dropped is because they missed a payment, Griffin says.

“If you’re unable to pay a debt as agreed, it’s going to have a negative effect,” he says.

Missing payments are reported to the major credit bureaus once they’re 30 days overdue, so it won’t impact your credit score if you make the payment a few days late (although you will probably have to pay late fees). But if you don’t make at least the minimum payment after 30 days, it can seriously damage your credit score: According to credit damage data from FICO, a person who has otherwise never missed a payment could lose over 80 points after missing a payment for over 30 days and another 50 points after 90 days.

That’s why it’s important to at least pay the minimum required amount each month when the option is available, even if you can’t afford to pay off your entire balance. While you ultimately will need to pay the full amount in order to avoid having a high credit utilization rate (more on that later), your payment history is often the most important factor in determining your credit score.

You should also always contact your lender if you’re struggling to meet your mortgage, student loans or car payments in order to avoid defaulting. You may be able to reduce your monthly payments or have the loans placed into forbearance, which won’t impact on your credit score.

2. Your credit utilization rate is too high

Your credit utilization rate is the ratio between how much credit you use vs. how much you have available. The standard goal is to keep your credit utilization rate below 30%. You might have an excellent track record of making payments on time and in full, but if you only have one credit card and you’re using 90% of the total amount, your credit score is still going to suffer.

Griffin advises that borrowers in this situation open up another account and split your usage between the two because “if you’re using your credit well and can keep utilization low on both cards, you’ll likely see scores improve over time.”

But keep in mind that this strategy can also backfire if you can’t keep the utilization low on both cards. Then, you’ll likely end up lowering your credit score because you’ve maxed out your cards and are carrying a high balance each month, leading to a high utilization rate. That’s where making just the minimum payments on your cards may not be enough. You’ll need to pay off more than the minimum amount if you want to lower your utilization rate in order to raise your overall score.

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3. You recently took out a new line of credit

You might’ve seen a drop in your credit score if you’ve recently been accepted for any new lines of credit. The amount your score actually drops will depend on how large the loan is and your overall credit history, but it’s one of the most common reasons peoples’ scores go down, according to Griffin.

It may not make sense at first glance: You had a good enough score to secure a low-interest mortgage loan, so why would it suddenly drop down now that you have it? But from a creditor’s perspective, Griffin says that while you may have good credit history, they have no idea whether or not you’ll continue to make the required payments long-term.

The good news is that if your credit score has taken a dip after being approved for a new loan, once you consistently make payments over the next few months, it will likely rebound or even grow as you build a longer credit history.

One piece of common knowledge about building credit is that your score tends to take a hit whenever a “hard” credit check is run on you, usually when applying for a new line of credit or apartment. But according to Griffin, a credit inquiry alone is unlikely to have a major impact on your overall score — maybe 10 points at maximum.

“You might see your scores dip a bit initially, but inquiries are really the least important factor in credit scores and will have the least impact,” he says.

If your credit score does appear to have taken a significant hit after applying for a new line of credit, then you “have far more serious issues causing your scores to drop than that inquiry,” Griffin says.

Consider when the last time you checked your credit score was and your entire credit history before worrying too much about how much one application might affect your score.

4. You recently filed for bankruptcy

It might seem like a no-brainer, but yes, declaring both Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy will absolutely have a direct effect your credit scores.

“Declaring bankruptcy means your scores are going to drop a lot,” Griffin says. That’s because when you file for bankruptcy, you’re essentially telling creditors that you’re a major credit risk in exchange for wiping out debt that you’ll never be able to pay back. If you file for bankruptcy with a good credit score, you could see your credit score drop by more than 200 points.

Getting your credit score back up after filing for bankruptcy will take a lot of time and effort, but after seven years the bankruptcy will be removed from your credit report and you’ll be able to get approved for more credit-building financial products.

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5. You’re looking at a different credit score than usual

The credit score you access through your bank may not be the exact same as another provider, even if you look at them on the same day. If your credit score appears to have taken a hit, you’ll want to make sure that you’re looking at the same score as usual.

The two major consumer credit scoring companies are FICO and VantageScore; while they both use the same 300 to 850 scale for generating scores, the way those scores are calculated can be different. For example, VantageScore factors in items like your “pattern of behavior” (i.e. putting in effort to pay off an existing card balance over time) while FICO scores do not. But even within one scoring system there can be discrepancies between your score, depending on which scoring model is being used.

“It’s critical that you know what score you’re looking at. Not just if it’s a FICO score, but is it the same FICO score as the one you’re used to,” Griffin says.

For instance, a typical FICO score has a score range between 300 and 850, with 850 being the best possible score. But a lender for an auto loan will often use the specific FICO Auto Score, which goes up to 900 points, so your score could appear dramatically different on that report when you’re preparing to buy a car.

6. You’ve been a victim of fraud

If none of the above applies, but your score has dropped significantly, then you may want to take a good look at your full credit report for any suspicious activity. Purchases you don’t remember making, loans taken out in your name and maxed out credit cards you never signed up for are major red flags of identity theft.

“Someone maxing out a fraudulent or stolen account could certainly affect your credit score,” Griffin says. “That’s why we always encourage people to check their credit histories regularly.”

Unlike most of the other reasons that your credit score might drop, if you’re a victim of identity theft, you will be able to remove the activity that’s hurting your score from your credit report. But it’s better to catch suspicious activity sooner rather than later in order to avoid spending hours trying to verify the legitimacy of every item on your report.

Enrolling in a free credit monitoring service like those offered by Experian and Credit Karma can help you catch and protect yourself from fraud.

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More from Money:

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Credit Score Right Now

FICO vs. VantageScore: The Difference Between the Credit Scores and Why It Matters

Does Student Loan Debt Affect Your Credit Score?

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Credit Repair Companies

Best Credit Repair Services – Which One Will Work In Your Best Interest 

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A credit repair can remove negative marks from your credit report, so you can buy a house or a car you’ve set your heart on.

With so many credit repair companies out there, how to choose the best one for you?

Because I recently needed help from a credit repair company, I talked with my friends and did countless hours of research. I’ve narrowed it down to the top five best credit repair companies, and here’s what you should know about each one.

Top 5 Best Credit Repair Companies

  1. Credit Saint – a highly reputable company offering an initial free consultation 
  2. Lexington Law – offering all sorts of legal advice and support
  3. The Credit People – with a low-fee trial week offer
  4. Credit Repair – a variety of packages to help you clean up any negative score
  5. Credit Firm – offering a legal audit of your credit reports

Our Top Picks

1. Credit Saint

Credit Saint has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. This credit repair company was founded in 2007, and since then, it has helped thousands of customers improve their credit scores.

What makes them stand out is that they offer a free consultation to talk about your credit score and identify any negative points. You’re under no obligation to pay for this service. 

If you choose to continue working with Credit Saint after the consultation, they will contact the major credit bureaus on your behalf –  just to remove any inaccurate information from your credit report.

Credit Saint is an aggressive credit repair service, but they’re aware that different people have different needs. That’s why they offer three service packages:

       Credit Polish is their basic package and includes five challenges of negative items per cycle, free score analysis, challenge identity theft, charge-offs, challenges to 3 credit bureaus, and a credit score tracker.

      Credit Remodel includes everything as the Credit Polish package, and some additional services, such as ten challenges of negative items per cycle, credit Experian monitoring, escalated information requests

and the challenges, such as bankruptcies, late payments, repossessions, and charge-offs.

       The most aggressive package available: It includes everything as the previous two, plus an unlimited number of challenges of inaccurate items, cease and desist letters on your behalf, and judgment disputes.

Credit Saint bought me with their free credit consultation, hundreds of positive user reviews, and because they charge less than other companies, but offer more services.

Pros:

  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Three packages at affordable rates
  • Online sign-up
  • Online account for tracking Credit Saint progress

Cons:

  • Not available in all states

>>> CLICK HERE to check out Credit Saint TODAY

2. Lexington Law

If you need legal help, Lexington Law might be the one for you, as this is a real law firm. 

It was founded in 1991, so it’s the credit repair company with the most experience in the US. Lexington Law has had 10,000,000 negative items removed from their client’s credit reports in 2017 only.

This credit repair service employs lawyers and paralegals that use specific laws to protect your credit score. They do this by obtaining a copy of your credit reports and finding what’s bringing your score down.

Then, they send disputes to challenge the inaccurate items. What I liked is that they’ll give you an online dashboard, so you can track what’s happening with your credit score every step of the way.

Lexington Law will assign you your own rep, usually a paralegal. You can schedule an appointment with your rep even beyond business hours, which comes in handy if you’re very busy.

Same as other credit repair services, Lexington Law offers three credit repair packages you can choose from.

        This is their most affordable package, and it includes challenging negative items from three major credit bureaus and creditors.

       Concord Premier package includes everything as the standard package, as well as the removal of hard inquiries, TransUnion alerts, and score analysis.

      The most expensive package Lexington Law offers includes services such as identity theft protection, personal finance tools, cease and desist letters, and FICO score tracker.

Pros:

  • Online customer service
  • Free credit report consultation
  • Online dashboard for following the progress

Cons:

  • No Better Business Bureau accreditation 

>>> CLICK HERE to check out Lexington Law TODAY

3. The Credit People

If you’re looking to try out a service without making a commitment, then you should consider The Credit People.

You can pay $19 to try out this credit repair agency for one week. If you like it and want to continue with them for longer than a week, you can choose between two membership credit repair services:

a monthly fee or a flat-rate membership for six months.

Both credit repair services include:

  • $19 fee for the first week
  • Debt inquiry and validation
  • Communication with creditors
  • Unlimited number of credit disputes
  • 6-month satisfaction guarantee

The Credit People claim to have removed about 1.5 million negative items from their customers’ credit reports. While no credit repair service can guarantee that you’ll improve your credit reports, The Credit People’s website claims that they have helped their customers’ credit reports increase between 55 and 187 points.

The reviews we checked especially praised their customer service and the fact that once you sign-up, you get a personal online account, which is accessible from any mobile device or a computer.

You’ll also receive notifications, so you’ll know right away if something changes in your credit repair account.

Pros:

  • FCRA certified consultants
  • Toll-free customer support
  • Account accessible at any time

Cons:

  • No financial management tools

>>> FIND OUT more about The Credit People TODAY

4. Credit Repair

The appropriately named Credit Repair, since 2012, the agency has removed 1,800,000 harmful items from the client’s credit reports.

After a user signs up, Credit Repair charges them $14.99 to check their credit report to identify invalid, confusing, and misleading information on it.

Next, the Credit Repair team creates a custom credit repair plan to remove all the negative items and help your credit scores.

All legitimate credit repair companies work on the same principle, and that’s to offer their customers several packages. Credit Repair offers three packages:

This is the most affordable option. It costs $14,94 to sign-up, and there’s a monthly fee, one of the cheapest in the credit repair industry.

If you have a few negatives in your credit history, this could be the best credit repair option for you, as the package includes 15 credit challenges and 3 creditor disputes monthly.

This package includes:cease and desist letters to creditors, $25,000 worth of Identity theft protection, 24/7 credit monitoring, and six interventions to three credit reporting bureaus.

Apart from containing everything the first two packages do, this premium one also includes:

$1 million in identity theft insurance, personal finance tools, 19 negative items challenged, and a monthly FICO score.

Pros:

  • Free consultation
  • Available online and has iOS and Android apps
  • 50% discount if your friend or a family member signs up

Cons:

  • Lack of clarity on who are their experts

>>> FIND OUT more about Credit Repair TODAY

5. Credit Firm

Like most credit repair companies, Credit Firm also offers a free consultation, including a review of your credit history and a step-by-step action plan that’ll help you improve your credit score.

Credit Firm is a highly reputable company that has been around since 1997, founded by a group of attorneys. 

What you may like best about them is that they offer something no other services in the credit repair industry do — a legal audit of your credit reports by a licensed attorney.

Not only will an attorney review your credit report, but also all documents the company sends to creditors for you.

While other credit repair services offer two to three credit repair packages, Credit Firm offers only one credit remodel package. 

In this package, you get an unlimited number of disputes a month, which is a fantastic deal seeing how other credit repair companies often limit or raise their price as the number of disputes increases.

Pros:

  • Toll-free customer service available 24/7
  • Highly rated by Better Business Bureau
  • No upfront fee

Cons:

  • No debt settlement service

>>> FIND OUT more about Credit Firm TODAY

How Do You Pick The Right Credit Repair Company?

There are several factors you should consider when choosing credit repair companies.

1. Reviews and Complaints

Always check the reviews and complaints from sources such as:

  • Better Business Bureau
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Google reviews

Pro tip: Don’t check the reviews on the direct website only, but go on third-party websites as well to make sure the reviews you’re reading are authentic.

2. Services Credit Repair Companies Offer

The majority of credit repair companies have tiered packages, which offer different services. 

The most important things you should take into consideration are:

  • The packages offered
  • The number of disputes per month
  • Monthly fee
  • If there’s credit monitoring
  • Identity theft insurance
  • Credit repair software
  • Goodwill letters asking creditors to remove negatives items sent to credit reporting agencies

3. X Day Money-Back Guarantee

The Credit Repair Organizations Act doesn’t allow credit repair companies to guarantee results. 

But, the Credit Repair Organization Act doesn’t prohibit companies from usually offering a 90-day money-back guarantee if there aren’t results after a certain time period. 

My two cents: legitimate companies should offer a money-back guarantee, which is why I gave these companies an advantage when choosing the one for me.

4. Cancellation Policy

Choose a company whose cancellation policy is free and available at any time.

Did you know? All credit repairing agencies are under obligation to tell the truth about their services.

You, as a customer, are entitled to a mandatory cancellation period, which is the first three days.

If you believe there’s a scam, you can contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and they can help you.

What Is the Best Credit Repair Company for You?

A credit repair company will help you recover your credit score so you can finally get that purchase you’ve been thinking about. Moreover, you can get financial guidance so that you never end up in the red. 

All of these companies are legitimate, successful, and can help you get a better credit report, but my recommendation is Credit Saint. It’s trustworthy, it has great customer reviews, and most importantly, it has three packages suited to everyone’s needs.

Plan for a better future, and contact a credit repair company that best fits your needs today. And don’t forget to share your experience in the comments below. 

>>> TRY Credit Saint TODAY (CLICK HERE) 



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Credit Repair Companies

Sky Blue Credit Repair Review (2021): 🔎 Fees/Service/Results Analyzed

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All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

Looking for the best way to improve your credit? The process can seem overwhelming and full of headache, with a lot of time wasted and little progress made.

Luckily however, there are legitimate options that can raise your credit without much work. A number of people are turning to them now, more than ever.

With the effects of COVID-19, more people are looking to increase their credit scores to secure better credit and loan rates. This is so much the case that the credit repair industry is expected to boom by 2025. At the same time, BEA findings suggest consumers are becoming more thoughtful about how they spend their money, likely because they have either already lost, or are worried about losing, their jobs.

Essentially, we want more bang for our buck.

Unfortunately, the increase in demand for credit repair services will also bring an increased amount of fraudulent cases — so how can you recognize the frauds?

Sky Blue Credit Repair is a leading credit repair company, with a strong track record of helping customers get fantastic results.

In this review, we’ll go through what exactly Sky Blue Credit Repair can do for you. We’ll also highlight all the pros and cons, and outline how much you’ll have to pay for the service. ⏬

Sky Blue Credit Repair is a leading credit repair company. The customer service team is consistently raved about in reviews. The firm offers a clear pricing structure, and legitimately offers the best value in the credit repair industry.

Fast Facts

  • Fees: $79 per month
  • Highlight: A simple, transparent structure with high value
  • Best for: Those looking for a customized service

Company Rating

  • Fees: 9/10
  • Communication: 9/10
  • Dispute Process: 9/10
  • Customer Service: 9.5/10
  • Credibility & Trust: 10/10
  • Overall: 9/10

What is Sky Blue Credit Repair? 🔵

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Sky Blue has been around since 1989 offering customers a credit repair service. Sky Blue Credit Repair is known to be one of the leading credit repair companies, with very few competitors able to come close to its offer.  Customers across 50 states, looking to repair, build, or develop their credit reports can benefit from Sky Blue Credit Repair.

Sky Blue Overview & Summary

Sky Blue Credit Repair is defined by several key points, which we’ve rounded up to the top six:

  1. Sky Blue helps clients to raise their credit score by analyzing their report and correcting any inaccuracies or incorrect information that may be on it. 
  2. According to Sky Blue Credit Repair, you can start the process of repairing your credit for an initial fee of $79, and then $79 per month. Couples can get a discount price of $119.
  3. Sky Blue Credit negotiates with your lenders or disputes up to 15 items on your report per month.
  4. Customers can expect a knowledgeable customer service team, and a 90-day guarantee, something that is unique in the industry.
  5. As the effects of the pandemic continue, customers should know how to recognize potential scams.
  6. There are some key questions you should ask yourself before hiring a Sky Blue Credit Repair, like what is your budget, and if you’ll likely need additional services.

How Can Sky Blue Credit Repair Help? 🆘

Sky Blue Credit Repair helps clients raise their credit score by correcting any inaccuracies or incorrect information that may be on their credit report. If any exist, raising your credit score will be almost impossible, even if you’re doing your damn best to be the ideal consumer.

Sky Blue Credit Repair helps you remove any incorrect info from your credit report.

Sky Blue will request copies of your credit report from three major credit bureaus including, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. The company will then go through every word in every sentence to ensure the report doesn’t include anything that can’t be confirmed or verified.

Should anything of the sort exist, Sky Blue will work with you to communicate the discrepancies to the relevant authorities. In it, the letters will highlight particular information that needs to be removed from the report.

What are the Pros & Cons of Sky Blue Credit Repair? 📜

We’ve created a list of the best and worst of Sky Blue Credit Repair:

Pros

  • Knowledgeable and professional customer service
  • Incredible value when compared to the competition
  • Track record of getting results
  • Fast processes
  • Handles the work for you
  • Individual, personalised communications
  • No upselling

Cons

  • It’s always possible to pursue DIY credit repair instead of paying a company to do it for you – but if you have bad credit and want to pay for credit repair, there’s little downside with Sky Blue

What Are Sky Blue’s Fees? 💳

So, how much does Sky Blue Credit Repair cost? And is it worth it to get better rates on your debt consolidation loan.

According to Sky Blue Credit Repair, you can start the process of repairing your credit for an initial fee of $79, and then $79 per month. Couples can get a discount price of $119.

Importantly, there’s no upselling or hidden fees with Sky Blue. This factor sets them apart from the competition.

Sky Blue also doesn’t charge any extra fees for credit reports or monitoring. Before, customers were charged a fee of $39.95 per credit report they pulled from each of the three-bureaus, or a monitoring service fee of $14.95.

💡 Keep in mind: You will more than likely need several report pulls throughout a credit repair process, if only to observe any potential changes in your FICO score.

How Does Sky Blue Credit Repair Work? 🔍

To start the process with Sky Blue Credit, fill out the enrollment form on the Sky Blue website. To register you will need to fill in the following information:

  • Your name
  • Street address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

First off, an agent will speak to you to determine what areas you want to focus on in your credit report. Then it will get your credit reports and begin a line-by-line review. The company has the experience to notice even the smallest discrepancies that could be affecting your credit. 

Sky Blue credit uses the information from its review to devise an action plan that will hopefully result in an increased credit score. The company also offers some ways you can start seamlessly rebuilding your credit with software.

How Sky Blue’s Credit Repair Works 🤔

Sky Blue Credit negotiates with your lenders or disputes up to 15 items on your report per month. The company utilizes its legal tools to argue for the removal of the items. Each month, the company will begin the process for the removal or correction of information in your report until you are satisfied that your credit report is at a fair standard.

Sky Blue also offers a 35-day dispute cycle.

In addition, Sky Blue will send you tips on how to monitor your credit, to raise your credit score yourself, including ways you can begin raising it naturally. 

Interested in credit monitoring? Get started with the top credit monitoring services.

Where Sky Blue Credit Repair Shines ⭐

Now that we’ve gone through the major aspects of Sky Blue Credit Repair, we’re going to go through what makes Sky Blue really stand out. 

1. Responsive Customer Service ☎️

“Let me just say how awesome your customer service department is. They handled everything, answered all of my questions and got me pointed in the right direction. Your credit repair company is the gold standard!” – R.H.

“Thanks again for helping me repair my credit. Everything has been amazing and I’m really looking forward to seeing more results.” – H.J.

The sky blue customer service team is both knowledgeable and responsible. Quite impressively, the firm holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB offers opinions on how a company will most likely interact with its customers. The company takes and uses information from business and public data sources to assign a rating from A+ (highest) to F (lowest).

Many reviewers have reported the company as being up-front when it believes the customers credit report wouldn’t benefit from a professional look.

With these cases, Sky Blue recommends additional steps the customer could take to improve or alleviate the current credit concerns they have (free of charge).

Finding a company that helps people, regardless of profit, is a rarity.

Lastly, one other thing on this topic that caught our eye: Sky Blue is known to call customers to let them know they will no longer need to pay, because it has finished its work.

2. 90-Day Guarantee 📅

Sky Blue Credit Repair’s 90 day money back guarantee will come as a welcome relief to those who are weary about handing over cash to companies at the moment. Especially,  when the industry is expected to boom by 2025, which will no doubt increase credit repair fraud.

If anything, this guarantee only proves the company’s reputability. Offering a money-back guarantee in this industry certainly isn’t the easiest thing to do. And for good reason: Credit repair is so individual and personal for person to person.

Essentially, for a company to have the guts to offer this to new customers, it must be confident that it can deal with the most complex credit issues. Sky Blue’s record confirms why it has this confidence. And, 90 days is a more than generous length of time.

Honestly, the 90-day guarantee says a lot. It essentially says that if Sky Blue doesn’t produce results for you, then you don’t need credit repair in the first place.

However, their initial consultation will be enough to know whether or not they can help. If they can’t — they’ll tell you up front, as they don’t want to work for 90 days without any results.

Wondering how much of a refund you actually get within that time period? The company doesn’t just refund the initial set up fee, it refunds all payments made.

😌 Peace of mind: With Sky Blue Credit Repair’s 90-day guarantee, unsatisfied customers will get a refund of all payments made, including the initial set-up fee.

We’re recommending Sky Blue because it’s a beacon of a company in an industry filled with pitfalls.

Sky Blue is a reputable company in the midst of an industry with pitfalls. However, should you have any doubt or concerns, it might bring you comfort to know that you will get a full refund if you’re unsatisfied. This is something that Sky Blue’s competitor’s do not offer.

Now, let’s get onto something a bit less exciting.

3. Sky Blue Does the Hard Work for You 💪

A Sky Blue representative will go through and identify any items that should be removed from your credit report. This is the most time consuming part of the process.

Typically, companies will require that you do this complicated work yourself. Sky Blue however, looks after it for you.

The company is also renowned for identifying smaller, more subtle inconsistencies that may otherwise go unnoticed.

4. Disputes Handled Internally 🤐

Sky Blue disputes with the credit bureaus without any need for your intervention. While it is technically possible to dispute inquiries yourself, it is a difficult and time consuming process. Sky Blue looks after the disputes for you, and will make sure to include your contact information along every step of the way. 

This means that you will receive responses from the credit bureaus directly, for no additional fee. This is far more efficient than waiting on a representative to forward notices on to you.

5. Sky Blue’s Processes Are Fast 💨

There’s no denying it; Sky Blue works at a strong pace. The company disputes up to 15 inquiries per month. That’s nothing to be sneered at!

This is one of the quickest credit repair processes out there. That said, it finds the right balance of communication with the bureaus because too much can have the opposite effect desired and could potentially put you back a few steps.

6. Assistance & Education 🏫

Sky Blue helps customers find ways to improve their reports and give their credit scores a boost. Generally, lenders are looking for specific items on your credit report, including missed payments and delinquencies. Sky Blue will assist you to find these issues, and then they’ll get to work on eliminating them.

While, of course, the content in your credit report should not be overlooked, most financial institutions look at your score, and that’s it. Sky Blue will give you the right advice so that you can take immediate action.

7. Additional Services ⚙️

Sky Blue Credit Repair offers additional services that come as part of the package (at no additional charge. These include: 

On top of credit repair services, Sky Blue Credit Repair offers:

  • Goodwill letters
  • Debt validation
  • Cease and desist letters

8. Customized Disputes ✉️

In a lot of cases, companies send what’s known as “form mail”. This means that every letter sent to the bureau is the same, templated, message, with no differentiating factor from customer to customer.

All correspondence sent by Sky Blue to the 3 bureaus is customized and individual from client to client.

An Alternative to Sky Blue Credit Repair

We’ve gone through the best of Sky Blue Credit Repair. But maybe the firm isn’t what you’re looking for. Read below to see if this applies to you and your unique situation.

It Might Feel a Little Unnecessary

If you have a less than ideal credit score, there are things you can do to help yourself, free of charge. Money’s tight right now, so why should we spend it on something we could potentially do ourselves? 

With more companies on the edge of bankruptcy, we should also be aware that getting lenders to front up the cash for loans could become increasingly more difficult. This could make having a good credit score more important than ever. 

However, some customers might prefer to put in the work and time themselves, especially those of us being more cautious of where our money goes.

Yet if you don’t have the time — or the expertise — but need to improve your credit score, we firmly believe you won’t go wrong with Sky Blue.

How to Notice & Avoid a Credit Repair Scam 🧐

Those of us who do choose to go with credit repair companies should be aware of those too-good-to-be-true advertisements. We’ve all seen them – the ones that promise us a “new credit identity” i.e. a fresh beginning for our credit history. It makes us really wonder (and dream) about whether this will catapult us to great rates. Reality is: it’s a scam.

🔔 Did you know? Consumer complaints to the CFPB have seen dramatic increases in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the CFPX received 29.494 complaints about different types of alleged consumer mistreatment – this number hit a record breaking high of 37.926 by June.

With the credit repair industry expected to boom as a result of COVID-19, fraudulant credit repair cases seem to be already on the rise. In the past few months, complaints to the CFPB have drastically increased month on month.

In March, the CFPB was inundated with 29,494 complaints around varying alleged consumer mistreatment – this number climbed to a staggering 37,926 by June.

Sky Blue Credit repair is a company that doesn’t offer any magic solutions, but rather keeps your expectations clear.

Keep in mind, these too-good-to-be-true companies usually are. A lot of the time, they sell Social Security numbers illegally. If you were to go ahead and use a number that wasn’t yours, you could end up with some hefty fines, or even locked up – it’s that serious.

Signs of a Credit Repair Scam 💳⚠️

Scams catch out so many people for a reason, they’re usually well-thought out, and quite deceiving. But what exactly are the signs of a scam? To help you stay on your toes, here are some ways you can recognize a potential credit repair scam:

 A Credit Repair Company Should Not

  • Insist on being paid before any work is completed
  • Advise you not to contact the credit reporting companies yourself
  • Advise you to dispute information on your credit report – even when you’re sure it’s correct
  • Advise you to submit false information when applying for credit or a loan
  • Be unclear about your legal rights when explaining what they will do for you

What Are Your Credit Rights? ⛔

The Credit Repair Organization Act (CROA) is your best friend in this case. This Act states that it is illegal for credit repair companies to lie about what they can do for your situation, and to charge for work before it’s completed the service/s.

This is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, and requires credit repair companies to be clear about the following:

  • Give you a written contract that clearly explains your legal rights and details what services the company will complete
  • Outline your right to cancel the service within three days, without a fee
  • Tell you when you should expect to see results
  • Highlight all fees involved, including the overall cost
  • State what exactly is guaranteed
  • Have an easy cancellation policy in place

What can you do if a credit repair company you’ve hired doesn’t do what it said it would? Here are some options to consider:

  • Sue the company in the Federal court to retrieve any fees you paid, or for any losses incurred, whichever is more.
  • Seek punitive damages – money the company has to pay for violating the law
  • Join others in a class action lawsuit against the company. If you win the company is required to pay your attorney fees.

Reporting Credit Repair Fraud

There are two ways to report a credit repair scam: 

  • State Attorney General
  • Federal Trade Commission

State Attorney General ✅

In a lot of states, there are laws governing credit repair companies. If you are unhappy with the service you’ve been given, report it to your state Attorney General (AG) or your local consumer affairs office.

Federal Trade Commission ✅

You also have the option of filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC can’t resolve any credit disputes for you, but it can take action against the company if it has a pattern of violating the law. 

Complaints can be filed on the FTC website directly or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Is Sky Blue Legitimate? 👍

Now that you know what to look out for to avoid a scam, the question remains, is Sky Blue a trustworthy company and should you use them?

Sky Blue ticks all the boxes of a reputable company. It’s credible, it has a track record of positive results, and its pricing structure is clear.

The company really sets itself apart in the following 2 ways that we highlighted earlier:

1 . Professional and knowledgeable customer service

2. 90-day guarantee

As we mentioned, finding a company that offers a 90 guarantee is rare in this industry. Customers of Sky Blue consistently describe the customer service team as: Professional, knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt.

But surely, not everyone needs to use a credit repair company? Right. Here’s a breakdown of who should consider using Sky Blue Credit Repair

Who Should Use Sky Blue? 🤵

To know if you should go ahead and hire Sky Blue Credit, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What is my budget?
  • Will I need additional services, like identity theft or credit report monitoring?
  • Do I prioritize getting individual service or having a bigger company to look after my account?
  • What do I hope to achieve by using this service?

Is Sky Blue Worth It? 🤷

BEA estimates show that we have less credit card debt and are taking a more cautious approach towards spending. In other words, we are spending less.

Okay look, here are the facts: Credit card debt has decreased during COVID-19. So, you may not need a credit repair company.

In June, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released estimates that disposable personal income decreased $911.1 billion (4.9%) and personal income decreased $874.2 billion (4.2%) in May. In other words, credit card debt is down because when you spend less, you spend less. 

At the same time, the BEA found that the U.S personal savings rate was almost two times more in May (23.2%) than in March (12.6). This suggests that many consumers are being more cautious with their money. If this is you, it’s important to make the best decision for you, and your money.

If this is true, you should be on top of all the facts before you invest your money into a credit repair service. Is it really worth it?

Is Sky Blue Worth It
Weigh up all your options before deciding to go with a credit repair company.

Here are some things to keep in mind when weighing the options of using a credit card repair company versus not using one.

Do You Have Room for Improvement? 🚀

If you have bad credit, or multiple issues on your credit report then there is a better chance of raising your FICO score, since more things need to be corrected. If you don’t take action to improve your FICO score, you could be stuck with a bad credit loan should you need to borrow funds.

You also need to think about what expectations you have and how much of an improvement you’re looking for. Look at your credit report and see if there is room for improvement.

It Can Cost Time and Money ⏱️💵

Credit repair companies can only dispute items a few times a month before they are reprimanded by a credit bureau, so if you have a good few items you want corrected, it can take some time, which will cost you.

On the other hand, if you only need to remove a few items then it should be a pretty quick process, which would cost less.

There is No Guarantee Your Credit Will Improve 🙅‍♂️

Any improvements made to your credit will be determined by the credit bureaus, not Sky Blue Credit Repair. For this reason, there is always the possibility that the requested changes will not be approved. Before you go into the process, it’s important to understand that your money might not result in a whole lot of change. 

With this in mind, it might be good to try to read and understand your credit report yourself so you have a good idea of what it entails before making your decision.

How Much Will Sky Blue Help My Credit? ☝️

While the company won’t be able to raise your credit without your help, it is a legitimate company with a strong track record of results.

Once you meet with a Sky Blue Credit Repair representative, they will go through the entire process and how long it should take, your rights, along with what they can do for you. Everything will be explained very clearly before any work begins. 

Is Sky Blue Credit Right for You? 🥇

Sky Blue is renowned for going above and beyond for its customers. It even offers advice to people, free of charge. The credit repair process is quick, affordable, and customers can expect to be communicated with by the credit bureaus directly.

Although we have highlighted the company’s website as being basic, it is something that could be easily fixed, and does not directly impact the service offered. 

With more potential fraudulent activity expected in the industry, customers should know how to recognize a scam, and choose a known and trusted credit repair company. Sky Blue could easily be the best in America.

Sky Blue Credit Repair FAQs

  • How Does Sky Blue Credit Repair Actually Work?

    Sky Blue works by disputing negative marks on clients credit reports with three leading credit bureaus. The credit bureaus communicate directly with you so you don’t need to wait on Sky Blue to forward on any messages. This is a good way of helping those with bad or fair credit get better rates for personal loans.

  • How Can I Get Started?

    To get started, go to the Sky Blue Credit Repair website and fill out the form. This will only take a few minutes.

    When you sign up, you’ll get an email with instructions on how to get them your credit reports. Once you receive the reports, the process will start.

  • How Long Does It Take to See Results From Sky Blue Repair Credit?

    This will depend on several factors, including the number of accounts on your credit report that need to be disputed. How quickly the bureaus respond will play a part, too. In comparison to others though, Sky Blue Credit Repair have quite a quick process.

  • Do They Offer a Guarantee?

    Yes, Sky Blue Credit Repair offers a 90-day money-back guarantee. If you are not happy with the service, you will get a full refund.

    A specific outcome can never be predicted or promised. However, Sky Blue has a record of doing all it can to maximize the possibility of outstanding results.

  • Which Items Will Sky Blue Remove From My Credit Report?

    Understanding what Sky Blue potentially can and cannot remove from your credit report is important. 

    Any debt or legitimate inquiries owed should not be disputed. However, it is required that companies give evidence of the debt owed, or authorised an inquiry. If a company can’t do this, you might be able to get it removed.

  • Will Deleted Items Reappear on My Credit Report?

    On a rare occasion, a negative item might reappear on your credit report. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus to let you know before a previously deleted listing is re-reported. 

    They also have a window of only 5 days to re-reported a previously deleted item. After this time it is a FCRA violation, which makes it hard for bureaus to re-report items.

  • Which is Better: Sky Blue or Lexington Law?

    Lexington Law and Sky Blue are both great options for helping people to improve their credit score. This will ultimately lead to greater financial access — including access to loans from the leading debt consolidation lenders for example. Do some more research to figure out which is the best option for your personal needs.

    Sky Blue Credit Repair offers a lower monthly price, and excellent service. It also offers a couples discount. Lexington Law has also recently experienced some legal drama, whereas Sky Blue has not.

    The Sky Blue customer service team is also the best in the industry. Customers consistently rave about the professional and knowledgeable team. If you’re looking for the best value offered in the credit repair space, we recommend Sky Blue.

  • How Can I Raise My Credit Score in 30 Days?

    You can seriously ramp up your credit score in 30 days by doing the following

    1. Get your credit report.
    2. Go through your report line by line and identify any incorrect information
    3. Dispute this with the leading credit bureaus.
    4. Pay your credit card balances or consolidate your debt through a leading debt consolidation lender.
    5. Contact the collection agencies.
    6. If the collection agency does not remove the account, do not pay it.
    7. Contact the creditors to eliminate late payments.
    8. Dispute the inquiries.
    9. Become an authorized user.
  • Does Sky Blue Remove Charge Offs?

    Sky Blue Credit Repair can remove the charge off if it is the account is past the reporting period.

  • Does Sky Blue Hurt Your Credit?

    The suggestions and disputes recommended by Sky Blue will result in a better credit report and could improve your credit score. Depending on how many items you need assessed, it could take some time. Sky Blue Credit Repair is known to do it within a few weeks to months.

  • Should I Dispute a Charge Off?

    If there are any inaccuracies about the reporting, you could dispute it with your creditor or ask the bureaus to investigate. Paying a balance will help your credit improve in the long.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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