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Even those with the best of financial intentions can find themselves with less-than-stellar credit. A few missed payments or a jump in your credit use from an unexpected expense can be all it takes to lower your score and damage your creditworthiness. If you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry — repairing your credit can be within reach.
A credit restoration service can make all the difference. Use Benzinga’s list of great credit restoration services and our credit restoration tips to get started on the road to financial recovery.
Best Credit Restoration Services
Restoring your credit on your own can feel like an uphill battle. Enlisting the help of a professional credit monitoring service can keep you on the right track.
Best for Credit Education: CreditRepair.com
CreditRepair.com offers credit restoration and education. Checking your credit score is free when you sign up with CreditRepair.com. Once you have a solid idea where you stand, CreditRepair.com will challenge any iffy negative marks on your report.
The platform asks creditors to verify any items they’re reporting. Legally, if a remark can’t be verified, the creditor has to stop reporting it and it can be removed from your credit report.
Once every potentially improper negative remark has been investigated and removed if applicable, CreditRepair.com continues to keep an eye on your credit report. When or if other issues arise, CreditRepair.com will help you handle them.
CreditRepair.com offers more than credit repair. It also has a solid stock of financial and credit literacy resources. You’ll find easy to understand lessons (with awesome graphics for those of us who do better with visuals) on everything from understanding your score to improving it. These tools are accessible to anybody with a CreditRepair.com account.
Call CreditRepair.com or visit its website today to get your free 10-minute credit analysis.
Cost: $99.95 per month for the most advanced coverage; basic and moderate coverage available
Best for Multiple Debt Solutions: American Debt Enders
American Debt Enders (ADE) links you to separate affiliate debt relief programs depending on your unique financial situation.
You can find non-profit debt consolidation, debt settlement, credit restoration and bankruptcy services via ADE along with credit repair counseling.
Credit repair counseling with ADE is free of charge. Professionals will help you identify the exact type of credit help you need and connect you to the appropriate types of financial experts. You’re under no obligation to take their recommendations, so it’s definitely worth trying out.
Cost: Varies by service
Best for Lawyer-Backed Credit Repair: Lexington Law
Nobody, not even the usually intimidating creditor or collections agent, wants to answer to a lawyer. Lexington Law leverages this to your benefit.
Even 1 untrue negative remark can damage your credit, so identifying, disputing and removing errors on your report is crucial. By using every possible legal standard, the professionals at Lexington Law will negotiate with the credit bureaus to remove or correct false or mistaken information on your behalf.
Lexington Law can also help negotiate with creditors even on accounts you take responsibility for. You’ll have access to personal credit coaching and custom-fit credit repair programs.
Lexington Law offers 3 packages: Concord Standard, Concord Premium and Premium Plus. Premium Plus is their most popular account; it offers comprehensive credit monitoring and repair along with identity protection and financial tools.
Cost: $89.85 to $129.95; choose from basic, moderate or advanced coverage
Best Mobile App: Credit Karma
Credit Karma is a free personal finance service with a focus on credit health. You get constant and consistent access to updated information about your credit report. Credit Karma also offers targeted credit restoration recommendations with small, segmented steps.
One caveat: because Credit Karma only sources its information from 2 of the 3 major credit reporting bureau, your displayed credit score or other metrics may not be as accurate as they could be. For this reason, use Credit Karma to get a general idea of where you stand and what actions you can take but remember that your score may differ from what is displayed.
If you need a precise view of your score, it’s best to get your yearly free report or use a service that calculates your score using all 3 credit bureaus.
Why Good Credit Matters
Do you really need to worry about your credit? It’s definitely worth keeping in good shape. There are many instances where having good credit benefits you. Lenders may not let you borrow if you have poor credit. If they do, your shaky credit history may cost you money. You’ll pay higher interest rates, have to abide by stricter terms and more.
Lenders aren’t the only people or businesses who check your credit, either. Landlords can (and do) screen credit when considering tenants. A potential employer may scan your credit to judge your trustworthiness.
A poor credit score can even prevent you from getting utilities, like electricity, turned on in your name without paying a large deposit. In short, having poor credit not only restricts your access in many areas, but it can also cost you money, doubling down on its negative impact on your everyday life.
Tips for Improving Your Credit
While it can’t be fixed overnight, small, intentional actions and habit changes will get you on the right path. The following are tried-and-true credit restoration methods to boost your score and improve your creditworthiness.
1. Check and Monitor Your Credit Report
This may seem obvious, but in the bustle of the day to day, things like this can get lost in the shuffle. Your credit takes work to maintain, and you can’t do the work if you aren’t aware of your credit score and the factors affecting it. Your credit report could have errors unfairly dragging it down or unpaid balances you didn’t know about.
2. Establish Good Payment Habits
Your payment history makes up 35% of your FICO score. The best way to establish a record of good payment history is to, well, pay your payments every time, on time. Don’t miss a payment and don’t be late, either. If you have trouble keeping track of monthly payments, auto-pay is your friend. Just be sure you’re paying enough toward your balance each month.
3. Lower Your Credit Utilization
The percentage of credit you’re using composes your credit utilization. Generally, you’ll want to stay below 30% credit utilization overall and with each line of credit you have.
The smartest way to lower your credit utilization is usually by paying down your credit card balances and other applicable debts (some debts, like installment plans, have a rigid repayment timeline).
If you know you can handle it responsibly, or you know you’ll benefit from establishing a relationship with a new creditor, you can also increase your overall credit limit. This can be done by opening a new credit card and keeping the balance low, or through debt consolidation with a loan.
4. Diversify Your Credit but Maintain Established Relationships
This one is sort of a double-edged sword. Having a good mix of credit types (installment plans, revolving credit and the like) reflects favorably on your credit score. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew with more credit than you can afford, though. Plus, each new credit inquiry can hurt your score, so tread carefully here.
Also, don’t close an older credit card when you open a new one. Your credit age is the average length you’ve held a positive relationship with all your creditors. Older accounts in good standing help this while closing older accounts and having too many new accounts can bring it down. If you find a better card, don’t sever ties with companies you have a history with.
Take Control of Your Credit Now
Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to repairing your credit. Knowing where you stand is the first step, so don’t be afraid to face your score no matter how bad you think it may be. A professional credit repair service can help you both monitor and improve your credit. They’ll go to bat for you with disputes or outline what targeted actions you can take to improve your score.
Link with one of our recommended credit repair experts to take the first step towards better credit today.