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How to Fix Your Credit — 17 Ways

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Do you know your personal credit score? What about your business credit score? Many people don’t know either. What’s more, most people don’t check their credit score before applying for a credit card, business loan, or personal loan. Some are shocked later on to discover that errors hurt them — errors they may have been able to correct had they paid attention.

Repairing credit has many benefits, including getting more financing, with lower interest rates and favorable loan terms. When you repair credit, it also puts you in a better position to achieve your goals. Whether your goals are personal, such as buying a new home, or business, such as expanding your facility, better credit scores increase your options.

That’s why the time to fix bad credit is now before you need to borrow money or bid on a new project. These tips for how to fix your credit will enable you to make positive changes in a short amount of time.



How to Fix Your Credit Yourself

Here are some tips on how to improve your credit score, both personal and business:

1. Check Your Credit Reports

You must know your credit score to fix bad credit, and the best way is to check your credit reports using Experian, Equifax, or Transunion. You can get a free credit report for personal credit — many companies make that available — but business credit scores are another matter.

First, the three credit bureaus — Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), Experian, and Equifax — each have different scoring models and types of reports. Second, most are not free credit reports for a business. For instance, a single standard credit report from Experian costs $39.95, while Equifax prices start at $99.95.

Tip: The credit monitoring service, Nav.com offers free credit report copies of your Experian, Equifax, and D&B scores for your business.

2. Identify and Dispute Any Errors

Don’t just access these sources to review your credit score. Examine the factors credit agencies use to determine the rating and investigate those that affect your score specifically. Errors are common. In fact, 25% of these reports do contain serious errors. So check them carefully. Removing negative information is an essential part of your credit repair efforts.

Identify any apparent errors you find and dispute them with the bureaus and the creditor or information source. You can file disputes on each of the credit reporting agencies’ websites.

Typical errors include:

  • Personal information – problems with name, address, phone number,
  • Account problems – these could be accounts belonging to someone else, closed accounts showing as open, accounts set up as a result of identity theft, or accounts incorrectly reported as late or delinquent or showing incorrect balances,
  • Inaccurate information – including non-existent bankruptcies or foreclosures,
  • Data errors – problems with how your credit was handled either by the credit agencies or another party,
  • Incorrect inquiries – Checks on your credit that might negatively affect your credit rating

In the dispute, identify and clarify each mistake, gather your documents, explain your reasons for disputing the information, and ask that it be removed or corrected.

Tip: Collect documentation prior to contacting a credit bureau to challenge items on your credit report. Credit bureaus require you provide proof of any errors in order to remove them from your credit report. As a result, you must present credit card statements, court documents or whatever else necessary to verify a credit report is in error.

3. Monitor Your Credit Score Regularly

Monitor your personal credit score regularly to check for changes. Your goal should be to get your score to 633 or above. You may be amazed to see the difference even small steps toward improvement can make. The reporting agencies update scores routinely, so check at least once a month. Also, some credit reporting agencies will send email alerts any time your score changes. Sign up for those if available.

Personal credit monitoring services typically make suggestions for how to improve your credit score, and some even track spending. As with any other metric, establishing a baseline and then monitoring changes will put you on a path to credit repair improvement.

In addition to individual credit reports, business credit reporting agencies offer annual subscription plans, which allow you to check your credit history, credit report, and score for one price. Charges can run into the hundreds of dollars, but it’s a way to stay apprised of your score and evaluate your credit repair activities. That can come in handy when you need to finance commercial real estate, office equipment, or fulfill another business need.

Tip: Just like with your personal credit score, check your business credit reports for accuracy. You can also contact the business credit bureaus and add information to your business profile, so the bureau has a more complete history.

4. Make Payments on Time

Nothing affects a credit score more adversely than a history of late payments.

Payment history makes up 35% of your FICO Score, according to Experian, and FICO Scores are used in 90% of credit decisions. Late payments also stay on your credit report for up to seven years. Plus, their presence on a credit report, including the total number, how late they were, and how recently they occurred, are correlated with future credit risk. People without a late payment are much more likely to pay on time in the future.

Now your credit card or loan statement may say a payment is past due after 15 days. However, for credit reporting purposes, a payment isn’t considered past due until after 30 days. Once you pass that deadline, your creditors can choose to report you to the credit bureaus, impacting your creditworthiness.

Make it a priority to pay your creditors on time every month. Even if you made payments late in the past, you begin to build credibility that will result in higher credit scores in time.

Tip: Track your payments carefully paying those closest to passing the 30 day mark first. Setting reminders is an excellent way to ensure you never miss a payment. There are several ways to do this:

  • Calendars on your computer or mobile device,
  • Text or email reminders from your bank or credit card lender,
  • Automatic payments via your business bank account.

Regarding the last option, make sure you have sufficient funds to cover the draft. Overdraft fees will eat away at your balance and could hurt your credit score rather than help it. )

5. Don’t Have a Separate Business Entity? Establish One

Credit bureaus can’t track your payment history if they don’t know your company exists. That’s why its best to make your business a separate entity. You can do that in several ways:

  • Set up a corporation or LLC – These structures will help you minimize personal liability for the business.
  • Get an EIN (Employer Identification Number) – You get this from the IRS, and it’s required if you have employees or are an S corporation.
  • Get a D-U-N-S Number – A D-U-N-S Number is a unique identifier Dun & Bradstreet assigns to track financial transactions of businesses. It means D&B has validated your company, something lenders and vendors rely on when deciding whether to do business with you.
  • Get a business phone – Having a business phone number builds credibility. Plus, you’ll need it to register for a D-U-N-S Number.
  • Open a business checking account – Commingling business transactions with personal is a recipe for trouble, especially during tax time when you have to look for deductions. That’s why it’s imperative to maintain a strict separation between personal accounts and business accounts.

Tip: Deposit all business revenues into the business bank account and pay yourself a salary or transfer funds from the business account to your personal account — not the other way around,

6. Lower Your Credit Utilization Rates

Small business owners need to keep credit utilization rates on both personal and business credit cards low. Under 30% is recommended. That’s important because credit utilization is the second most important factor in credit scores, right after payment history. Your credit utilization rate is calculated by taking the total of all your credit card balances and dividing it by the sum of all your credit card limits.

It’s to your benefit to keep your credit utilization under 7%. That puts you in the“very good” credit score range of 740-799. Even better, holding it between 1 and 3% can give you an “exceptional credit” score of 800-850.

Do not have 0% credit utilization, however. You aren’t building credit if all your credit cards show no balance. In fact, your score could be lower. So use both your business and personal credit cards and lines regularly, but pay them down or off early every month.

7. Increase Your Credit Limit by Opening New Credit Cards

One way to lower your credit utilization rates is by applying for another card. This generates a hard inquiry, which lowers your credit score in the short-term, but the added credit amount will increase your score in the long-term.

This, in turn, helps your credit repair efforts and offset credit card amounts that exceed the 30% recommended limit by increasing your available credit limit.

A problem arises, however, if you run up the balance on the new card. Your credit utilization percentage goes back up as do your credit balances. But as long as you don’t increase your credit card balances, an upturn in your credit limit should reduce your utilization rate and improve your credit scores.

Tip: Beware! Don’t apply for several credit cards within a short period. Too many “hard” credit pulls will damage your personal credit.

8. Pay Down Business Debt

Another way to lower your credit utilization rates is to pay down as much business debt as possible. Consider this simple strategy for credit repair. Either pay down the account with the highest annual percentage rate or pay off the lowest balance.

Say you pay on two accounts. One charges an annual percentage rate of 20%. The other boasts a much lower annual percentage rate of 9%. Pay down the balance on the account with the higher percentage rate first. This decreases the overall interest owed and improves your credit history.

On the other hand, say you have new credit, Perhaps you just bought a new laptop for $500. Consider paying off this low balance first. You may need to make minimum payments on your other accounts. However, paying down this balance fast looks great on your credit report.

9. Open a Business Credit Card Account

A business credit card gives your company credibility and helps establish good business credit or improve business credit ratings. It’s also another way to separate business expenses from personal. Putting all your business transactions on a card intended for that purpose comes in handy during tax time, making figuring out deductions a much easier task.

Just as with a personal credit card, make small purchases with the new credit card and pay the account off in full each month. Do this for several months to establish a track record of timely payments on new credit. This process demonstrates creditworthiness when you need funding to grow your business. Just make sure the new credit card company is one that reports to a business credit bureau.

Here’s another reason to get a new credit card for your business. Even though your personal credit score will be affected short-term due to the hard inquiry, the business line of credit is separate from your personal credit. That means whatever happens with your business card should not affect your personal credit score.

10. Learn to Build Your Business Credit

Establishing a business credit history is a challenge for startups and smaller businesses. This is why setting your business up as a separate entity is so important. Fleshing out your business credit history is too.

Learning how to build business credit is vital to fixing a bad credit score, so start taking actionable steps to achieve that goal right away.

Tip: A useful first step is to purchase business credit reports, to see if and how your business appears on these. Also, create? ?a? ?profile? ?with? ?the? ?three business? ?credit? ?bureaus: Dun & Bradstreet, Experian, and Equifax.

11. Add Positive Trade References

Another credit repair strategy is to do business with “trades” that report to business credit agencies. Not all vendors and suppliers share payment data, but the bureaus can tell you which ones do.

To calculate its PAYDEX score, Dun & Bradstreet requires a minimum of three trade references which you can add. Having a low score can result in higher interest rates, smaller loan amounts, or the inability to raise capital. That’s why you want to add “positive” references, those that will help you build good credit.

12. Keep Older Credit Accounts Open

Pay off existing debts when you can, but don’t close the account. Your oldest accounts are valuable. The reason is that length of credit history is a major factor credit agencies use to determine your score. The older these accounts are, the better. That’s particularly true if you haven’t had any recent slip-ups such as late payments or delinquencies.

Another way old accounts help is by again reducing your overall credit utilization. You will have a lower credit utilization percentage if the account is open but has a zero balance.

Different credit bureaus weigh the importance of credit age differently. FICO factors it in at 15% of the total score, for example. Regardless, keeping those old accounts open will help boost your score.

13. Diversify Your Credit Mix

How much credit you have, the balances owed, payment history — all of that factors into your score. Your credit mix does too. It counts for as much as 10% of your overall rating.

What’s a credit mix? It’s the variety of credit you have in your profile.

Essentially, there are only two types of credit that apply: installment and revolving. Installment credit includes things like mortgages, car loans or term loans. They have a fixed end date with payments due every month. Revolving credit includes credit cards or lines of credit. These are accounts that have no fixed end date or set amount due each month.

Ideally, you want a mix of both. It demonstrates that you can manage multiple types of accounts. Having only one or the other will make it harder to increase your score.

14. Get Authorized to Use Someone Else’s Account

Becoming an authorized user on another person’s credit card account can give your score an immediate boost. Just be sure it’s with a person who has a better credit score than you!

There is a risk for the person authorizing your use. According to the law, authorized users are not the persons responsible for repaying the debt. That burden falls to the primary user. Also, this form of “piggybacking” credit doesn’t necessarily help the authorizer build his or her credit so much as it does the person with a low score.

15. Apply for a Secured Bank Loan

If you are unable to get a loan based on your creditworthiness, apply for a secured bank loan. A secured loan is based on collateral, such as a car, CD, savings account, or equipment. If you are unable to make payments, the lender can seize your asset, which means you take on additional risk. But, timely payments over a long period can benefit you with a higher credit score.

16. Negotiate to Remove Delinquencies

One way to remove a negative mark on your credit such as a delinquency is to contact the creditor to try and negotiate a partial payment. In turn, the creditor agrees to reclassify the debt as “paid.” Assuming you strike a deal, get the agreement in writing and pay only once it’s in hand.

17. Get an Immediate Credit Boost

Experian offers a way to improve your FICO Score “instantly,” according to the website. It’s through a program called Boost, a free opt-in service that allows users to add cell phone and utility bill data to their credit history. It works by connecting the bank account they use to pay those bills to Experian. Assuming payments are made on time, users should see an immediate score increase.

Credit Repair Pays Off

It will take time and focused effort, but you can repair your credit and improve your credit scores. However, you must make it a priority to repair your credit stick with it. Follow the steps outlined above, and you will see. The benefits will pay off in the form of the capital you need for business growth. In the meantime, if you need options while your credit scores are low, check out these business loans for bad credit.




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Bad Credit

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders

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Illustration by Sarah Maxwell, Folio Art

When Bridget Davis got started in the family’s payday lending business in 1996, there was just one Check ’n Go store in Cincinnati. She says she did it all: customer service, banking duties, even painting walls.

The company had been established two years earlier by her husband, Jared Davis, and was growing rapidly. There were 100 Check ’n Go locations by 1997, when Jared and Bridget (née Byrne) married and traveled the country together looking for more locations to open storefront outlets. They launched another 400 stores in 1998, mostly in strip malls and abandoned gas stations in low-income minority neighborhoods where the payday lending target market abounds. Bridget drove the supply truck and helped select locations and design the store layouts.

But Jared soon fired his wife for committing what may be the ultimate sin in the payday lending business: She forgave a customer’s debt. “A young woman came to pay her $20 interest payment,” Bridget wrote in court documents last year during divorce proceedings from Jared. “I pulled her file, calculated that she had already paid $320 to date on a principle [sic] loan of $100. I told her she was paid in full. [Jared] fired me, stating, ‘We are here to make money, not help customers manage theirs. If you can’t do that, you can’t work here.’ ”

Photograph by Brittany Dexter

It’s a business philosophy that pays well, especially if you’re charging fees and interest rates of 400 percent that can more than triple the amount of the loan in just five months—the typical time most payday borrowers need to repay their debt, says the Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit organization focused on public policy. Cincinnati-based Check ’n Go now operates more than 1,100 locations in 25 states as well as an internet lending service with 24/7 access from the comfort of your own home, according to its website. Since its founding, the company has conducted more than 50 million transactions.

What the website doesn’t say is that many, if not most, of those transactions were for small loans of $50 to $500 to working people trying to scrape by and pay their bills. In most states—including Ohio, until it reformed its payday lending laws in 2019—borrowers typically fork over more than one-third of their paycheck to meet the deadline for repayment, usually in two weeks. To help guarantee repayment, borrowers turn over access to their checking account or deposit a check with the lender. In states that don’t offer protection, customers go back again and again to borrow more money from the same payday lender, typically up to 10 times, driving themselves into a debt trap that can lead to bankruptcy.

Jared and Bridget Davis are embroiled in a nasty court battle related to his 2019 divorce filing in Hamilton County Domestic Relations Court. Thousands of pages of filings and 433 docket entries by April 26 offer the public a rare glimpse into the business operations of Check ’n Go, one of Cincinnati’s largest privately-owned companies, as well as personal lifestyles funded by payday lending.

The company cleared $77 million in profit in 2018, a figure that dipped the following year to $55 million, according to an audit by Deloitte. That drop in revenue may have something to do with the payday lending reform laws and interest rate caps passed recently in Ohio as well as a growing number of other states.


The day-to-day business transactions that provide such profit are a depressing window into how those who live on the edge of financial security are often stuck with few options for improving their situations. If a borrower doesn’t repay or refinance his or her original loan, a lender like Check ’n Go deposits the guarantee check and lets it bounce, causing the borrower to incur charges for the bounced check and eventually lose his or her checking account, says Nick DiNardo, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. After two missed payments, payday lenders usually turn over the debt to a collection agency. If the collection agency fails to collect the full amount of the original loan as well as all fees and interest, it goes to court to garnish the borrower’s wages.

That devastating experience is all too familiar to Anthony Smith, a 60-year-old Wyoming resident who says he was laid off from several management positions over a 20-year period. He turned to payday lenders as his credit rating dropped and soon found himself caught in a debt trap that took him years to escape.

Two things happened in 2019, Smith says, that turned around his financial fortunes. First, he found a stable manufacturing job with the Formica Company locally, and then he took his mother’s advice and opened a credit union account. GE Credit Union not only gave him a reasonable loan to pay off his $2,500 debt but also issued him his first credit card in a decade. “I had been a member [of the credit union] for just two months, and I had a credit rating of 520. Can you imagine?” he says. Smith says he is now debt-free for the first time in 10 years.

Consumer advocates say Check ’n Go is one of the biggest payday lending operations in the nation. But knowing its exact ranking is difficult because most payday lending companies, including Check ’n Go and its parent company CNG Holdings, are privately held and reluctant to disclose their finances.

Brothers Jared and David Davis own the majority of the company’s privately held stock. David bought into the company in 1995, but CNG got its game-changing infusion of capital from the brothers’ father, Allen Davis, who retired as CEO of then-Provident Bank in 1998. Allen sold off $37 million in stock options and essentially became CNG’s bank and consultant.

By 2005, however, the sons were part of a public court battle against their father. Allen accused Jared and David of treating his millions in CNG stock as compensation instead of a transfer from his ex-wife (and the brothers’ mother), sticking him with a $13 million tax bill. In turn, the brothers accused Allen of putting his mistress and his yacht captain on the company payroll, taking $1.2 million in fees without board approval, and leading the company into ventures that lost Check ’n Go a lot of money. Several years of legal fighting later, the IRS was still demanding its $13 million. CNG officials did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Jared and David split $22 million in profit from CNG in 2018 and, according to the Deloitte audit, CNG’s balance sheet showed another $42 million that could be split between the two brothers in 2019. Jared, however, elected not to receive his $21 million distribution “in order to create this artificial financial crisis and shelter millions of dollars from an equitable split between us,” according to Bridget’s divorce filing.

Worse, she claims, Jared said they would be responsible for paying taxes out of their personal accounts rather than from CNG’s company earnings, making her personally responsible for half of the $5.5 million in taxes for 2019. She believes it wasn’t happenstance that $5.5 million was wired to Jared’s private bank account in December of that same year. Bridget has refused to sign the joint tax return, and Jared filed a complaint with the court saying a late tax filing would cost them $1 million in penalties and missed tax opportunities.

“For the duration of our marriage and to the present, Jared has full and complete control of all money paid to us from various investments we have made in addition to our main source of income, CNG,” Bridget wrote in her motion. She suspects that Jared, without her knowledge or consent, plowed the money for their taxes and from other sources of income into Black Diamond Group, the fund that invests in the Agave & Rye restaurant chain. Beyond the original restaurant opened in Covington in 2018, “they have opened four other locations in one year,” she wrote, including Louisville and Lexington. (The ninth location opened in Hamilton this spring.) Agave & Rye’s website touts its Mexican fare as “a chef-inspired take on the standard taco, elevating this simple food into something epic!”

In his response, Jared wrote, “We have very limited regular sources of income.” He says he isn’t receiving any additional distributions from CNG, the couple’s primary source of income, “and this is not within my control. The company has declared that we would not make any further distributions in 2020 given economic circumstances. This decision is based on a formula and is not discretionary.” Agave & Rye helped produce $645,000 in income for Black Diamond in 2020 but has paid out $890,000 in loans, he says. Through August 31, 2020, he wrote, the couple’s “expenses have exceeded income from all sources.”


The divorce case filings start slinging mud when the couple accuses each other of breaking up their 22-year marriage and finding new partners. Jared claims Bridget began an affair during their marriage with Brian Duncan, a contractor she employed through her house flipping business. Bridget, he says, paid Duncan’s company $75,000 in 2018 as well as giving him a personal gift of $70,000 that same year. Jared says she also bought Duncan at least one car and purchased a house for him near hers on Shawnee Run Road for $289,000, then loaned money to Duncan. Jared says Duncan has been late in repaying the note.

While Bridget says Duncan has been drug-free for several years, he has a rap sheet with Hamilton County courts from 2000 to 2017 that runs five pages long. It lists a half-dozen counts of drug abuse and drug possession, including heroin and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia; assaulting a police officer; stealing a Taser from a police officer; criminal damaging while being treated at UC Health; more than a dozen speeding and traffic violations; a half-dozen counts of driving with a suspended license; receiving stolen property; twice fleeing and resisting arrest; three counts of theft; two counts of forgery; and one count for passing bad checks.

Bridget has fired back that Jared not only is hiding his money from her but spending it lavishly on vacations, resorts, and high-end restaurants with his new girlfriend, Susanne Warner. Bridget says Jared gifted Warner with $40,000 without Bridget’s knowledge, then declared it on their joint tax return as a “contribution.” Bridget’s court filings include photocopies of social media posts of Jared and Warner globetrotting from summer 2019 to summer 2020: vacation at Beaver Creek Village in Avon, Colorado; cocktails at High Cotton in Charleston, South Carolina, and dinner at Melvyn’s Restaurant and Lounge in Palm Springs, California; getaways at resorts in Nashville and at a lakefront rental on Norris Lake ($600 per night); in the Bahamas at a Musha Cay private residence ($57,000 per night), at South Beach in Miami, and at a private beach at Fisher Island; in Mexico at Cabo San Lucas; in the U.S. Virgin Islands at Magen’s Bay and on a private yacht ($4,500 per night); in California at Desert Hot Springs, the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage, and Montage at Laguna Beach; and in the Bahamas at South Cottage ($2,175 per night).

For her part, Bridget has gone through some of the top lawyers in town faster than President Trump during an impeachment—six in all, two of whom she’s sued for malpractice. She sent four binders of evidence to the Ohio Supreme Court, asking for the recusal of Hamilton County Judge Amy Searcy and claiming Searcy was biased because of campaign donations from Jared and his companies. Rather than deal with the list of questions sent to her by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Searcy stepped down. Two other judges have since stepped into the fray, and in March Bridget filed for a change of venue outside of Hamilton County, arguing she can’t get a fair trial in her hometown. At press time, a trial date had been set for June 28 in Hamilton County.

The poor-mouthing in the divorce case has reached heights of comic absurdity. Jared claims he’s “illiquid” because he didn’t get his distribution from CNG in 2019. Bridget has received debt collection notices for the nearly $21,000 owed on her American Express card and a $735 bill from Jewish Hospital. There’s no sign yet that anyone is coming to repossess her Porsche, which according to her filings has a $5,000 monthly payment. Each party has received $25,000 a month in living expenses, an amount later reduced to $15,000 under a temporary legal agreement while the divorce case is being sorted out. Court filings show that Jared’s net worth is almost $206 million and Bridget’s is $22.5 million.


In the early 1990s, Allen Davis was raising eyebrows at Provident Bank (later bought by National City), and not only because of his very unbanker-like look of beard, ponytail, and casual golf wear. He was leading the company into questionable subprime home loans for people with bad credit and a frequent-shopper program for merchants, though the bank’s charter barred him from getting involved in full-blown predatory lending practices. With guidance and funding from his father, Jared, at age 26, launched Check ’n Go in 1994 and became a pioneer in the payday lending industry. Jared and his family saw there were millions of Americans who didn’t have checking or savings accounts (“unbanked”) or an adequate credit rating (“underbanked”) but still needed loans to meet their everyday expenses. What those potential customers did have was a steady paycheck.

Conventional banks share a big part of the blame for the nation’s army of unbanked borrowers by imposing checking account fees and onerous penalties for bounced checks. In 2019, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation estimated there were 7.1 million U.S. households without a checking or savings account.

The Davises launched Check ’n Go on the pretext that it would “fill the gap” for people who occasionally needed to borrow money in a hurry—a service for those who couldn’t get a loan any other way. But consumer advocates say the real business model for payday lending isn’t a service at all. The majority of the industry’s revenue comes from repeat business by customers trapped in debt, not from borrowers looking for a quick, one-time fix for their financial troubles.

Ohio’s payday lending lobbyists got a strong hold on the state legislature in the late 1990s, and by 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray could rightfully claim in a campaign ad that “Ohio’s [payday lending] laws are now the worst in the nation. Things have gotten so bad that it is legal to charge 594 percent interest on loans.” His statement was based on a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The frustration for consumer advocates was that Ohioans had been trying to reform those laws since 2008, when voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative placing a 28 percent cap on the interest of payday loans. But—surprise!—lenders simply registered as mortgage brokers, which enabled them to charge unlimited fees.

The Davis family and five other payday lending companies controlled 90 percent of the market back then, an express gravy train ripping through the poorest communities in Ohio. The predatory feeding frenzy, especially in Ohio’s hard-hit Rust Belt communities, prompted a 2017 column at The Daily Beast titled, “America’s Worst Subprime Lender: Jared Davis vs. Allan Jones?” (Jones is founder and CEO of Tennessee-based Check Into Cash.) In 2016 and 2017, consumer advocates mustered their forces again, and this time they weren’t allowing for loopholes. The Pew Charitable Trusts joined efforts with bipartisan lawmakers and Ohioans for Payday Loan Reform, a statewide coalition of faith, business, local government, and nonprofit organizations. Consumer advocates found a legislative champion in State Rep. Kyle Koehler, a Republican from Springfield.

It no doubt helped reform efforts that former Ohio Speaker of the House Cliff Rosenberger resigned in spring 2018 amid an FBI investigation into his cozy relationship with payday lenders. Rosenberger had taken frequent overseas trips—to destinations including France, Italy, Israel, and China—in the company of payday lending lobbyists. In April 2019, Ohio’s new lending law took effect and, since then, has been called a national model for payday lending reform that balances protections for borrowers, profits for lenders, and access to credit for the poor, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. New prices in Ohio are three to four times lower for payday loans than before the law. Borrowers now have up to three months to repay their loans with no more than 6 percent of their paycheck. Pew estimates that the cost of borrowing $400 for three months dropped from $450 to $109, saving Ohioans at least $75 million a year. And despite claims that the reforms would eliminate access to credit, lenders currently operate in communities across the state and online. “The bipartisan success shows that if you set fair rules and enforce them, lenders play by them and there’s widespread access to credit,” says Gabe Kravitz, a consumer finance officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Other states like Virginia, Kansas, and Michigan are following Ohio’s lead, Kravitz says. Some states, such as Nebraska, have even capped annual interest on payday loans. As a result, Pew researchers have seen a reduction in the number of storefront lending op­erations across the country. Even better, Kravitz says, there’s no evidence that borrowers are turning instead to online payday lending operations.

Cincinnati is one of five cities chosen for a grant to replicate the success of Boston Builds Credit, an ambitious effort that city launched in 2017 to provide credit counseling in poor and minority communities by training specialists at existing social service agencies. The program also encourages consumer partnerships with credit unions, banks, and insurance companies to offer small, manageable loans that can help the unbanked and underbanked improve their credit ratings. “Right now, local organizations are all kind of working in silos on the problem in Cincinnati,” says Todd Moore of the nonprofit credit counseling agency Trinity Debt Relief. Moore, who applied for the Boston grant, says he’s looking for an agency like United Way or Strive Cincinnati to lead the effort here.

Anthony Smith is thankful that he’s escaped the downward spiral of his payday loans, especially during the pandemic’s economic turmoil. “I’m blessed for every day I can get paid and have a job during these difficult times, just to be able to pay my bills and meet my responsibilities,” he says. “I’ve always kept a job, but until now I’ve had crappy credit. That doesn’t mean I’m a bad guy.”

Can others worth millions of dollars say the same?

Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders Source link Inside the Highly Profitable and Secretive World of Payday Lenders



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Bad Credit

What’s Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?

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Questionable’s definition means that something’s quality is up for debate. If a lender says that your credit score is questionable, it’s likely that they mean it’s poor, or at the very least, they’re hesitant to approve you for vehicle financing. Here’s what most lenders consider questionable credit, and what auto loan options you may have.

Questionable Credit and Auto Lenders

Many auto lenders may consider questionable credit as a borrower with a credit score below 660. The credit score tiers as sorted by Experian the national credit bureau, are:

  • Super prime: 850 to 781
  • Prime: 780 to 661
  • Nonprime: 660 to 601
  • Subprime: 600 to 501
  • Deep subprime: 500 to 300

The nonprime credit tiers and below is when you start to get into bad credit territory and may struggle to meet the credit score requirements of traditional auto lenders.

This is because lenders are looking at your creditworthiness – your perceived ability to repay loans based on the information in your credit reports. Besides your actual credit score, there may be situations where the items in your credit reports are what’s making a lender question whether you’re a good candidate for an auto loan. These can include:

  • A past or active bankruptcy
  • A past or recent vehicle repossession
  • Recent missed/late payments
  • High credit card balances
  • No credit history

There are ways to get into an auto loan with questionable credit. Your options can change depending on what’s making your credit history questionable, though.

Questionable Credit Auto Loans

If your credit score is less than stellar, it may be time to look at these two lending options:

  • What Is Questionable Credit and Can I Get a Car Loan With It?Subprime financing – Done through special finance dealerships by third-party subprime lenders. These lenders can often assist with many unique credit situations, provided you can meet their requirements. A great option for new borrowers with thin files, situational bad credit, or consumers with older negative marks.
  • In-house financing – May not require a credit check, and is done through buy here pay here (BHPH) dealers. Typically, your income and down payment amount are the most important parts of eligibility. Auto loans without a credit check may not allow for credit repair and may come with a higher-than-average interest rate.

Both of these car loan options are typically available to borrowers with credit challenges. However, if you have more recent, serious delinquencies on your credit reports, a BHPH dealer may be for you. Most traditional and subprime lenders typically don’t approve financing for borrowers with a dismissed bankruptcy, a repossession less than a year old, or borrowers with multiple, recent missed/late payments.

Requirements of Bad Credit Car Loans

In many cases, your income and down payment size are the biggest factors in your overall eligibility for bad credit auto loans. Expect to need:

  • 30 days of recent computer-generated check stubs to prove you have around $1,500 to $2,500 of monthly gross income. Borrowers without W-2 income may need two to three years of professionally prepared tax returns.
  • A down payment of at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. BHPH dealers may require up to 20% of the car’s selling price.
  • Proof of residency in the form of a recent utility bill in your name.
  • Proof of a working phone (no prepaid phones), proven with a recent phone bill in your name.
  • A list of five to eight personal references with name, phone number, and address.
  • Valid driver’s license with the correct address, can’t be revoked, expired, or suspended.

Depending on your individual situation, you may need fewer or more items to apply for a bad credit auto loan. However, preparing these documents before you head to a dealership can speed up the process!

Ready to Get on the Road?

With questionable credit, finding a dealership that’s able to assist you with an auto loan is easier said than done. Here at Auto Credit Express, we want to get that done for you with our coast-to-coast network of special finance dealerships.

Complete our free auto loan request form and we’ll get right to work looking for a dealer in your local area that can assist with many tough credit situations.

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Bad Credit

Entrepreneur Tae Lee Finds Her Fortune

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By Jasmine Shaw
For The Birmingham Times

Birmingham native Tae Lee had plans last year to visit the continent of Africa, the South American country of Columbia, and the U.S. state of Texas.

“I was going to stay in each place for like four to six weeks, and then COVID-19 happened,” she said. “So, I just was like, ‘You know what, I’m just gonna go to Mexico and stay for six months.’”

Once home from Playa Del Carmen, located on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the 33-year-old entrepreneur put the final touches on “Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt,” a financial literacy card game for ages 10 and up.

“We created ‘Game of Fortune’ because we realized there was a gap in learning the fundamentals of money,” said Lee. “We go through life not knowing anything about money and then—‘Bam!’—real life hits. Credit, debt, and bills come at us quick!”

Lee believes the game “gives players a glimpse of real life” by using everyday scenarios to teach them how to make wiser financial decisions without having to waste their own money.

“I feel like [financial literacy] can be learned in ways other than somebody standing up and preaching it to you over and over again,” she said. “You can learn it in ways that are considered fun, as well.”

Which is why “we want the schools to buy it, so we can give students a fun way to learn about financial literacy,” she added.

Lee, also called the “Money Maximizer,” is an international best-selling financial author, speaker, coach, and trainer who is known for her financial literacy books, including “Never Go Broke (NGB): An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Money and Freedom” and the “NGB Money Success Planner High School Edition.” The Birmingham-based financial guru focuses on creating diverse streams of income in the tax, real estate, insurance, and finance industries.

For Lee, it’s about building generational wealth, not debt.

Indispensable Lessons

Lee got her first glance at entrepreneurial life as a child watching her mother, Valeria Robinson, run her commercial cleaning company, V’s Cleaning. Robinson retired in 2019.

“My grandmother had a cleaning service, too,” said Lee. “So, even though I didn’t start out as an entrepreneur, watching my mom and grandma do it taught me a lot.”

Lee grew up in Birmingham and attended Riley Elementary School, Midfield Middle School, and Huffman High School. She then went on to Jacksonville State University, in Jacksonville, Alabama, where she earned bachelor’s degree in physical education. She struggled to find a career in her field and became overwhelmed by student loans.

“My credit and stuff didn’t get bad until after college,” she said. “I was going through school and taking money, but nobody told me, ‘Oh, you’re gonna have to pay all of this back.’”

Before embarking on her extensive career in money management, Lee had not learned the indispensable lessons that she now shares with clients.

“‘Don’t have bad credit.’ That’s all I learned,” she remembers. “Financial literacy just wasn’t taught much. I learned the majority of my lessons as I aged.”

In an effort to ward off collection calls and raise her credit score, Lee researched tactics to strategically eliminate her debt.

“I knew I had to pay bills on time, and I couldn’t be late with payments,” she said.

Lee eventually began helping friends revamp their finances and opened NGB Inc. in 2017 to share fun, educational methods to help her clients build solid financial foundations.

“People were always coming to me like, ‘How do I invest in this?’ and ‘How do I do that?’ So, I said to myself, ‘You know what, people should be paying to pick your brain.’”

Legacy Building

While Lee enjoyed watching her clients reach milestones, like buying a new car with cash or making their first stock market investment, she was also designing “Game of Fortune” to teach the value of legacy building.

“The game gives players the knowledge to build generational wealth, not generational debt,” she said. “It gives you a glimpse of life, money, and what can truly happen if you mismanage your coins.”

Using index cards to create her first “Game of Fortune” sample deck, Lee filled each card with pertinent terms related to debt elimination and credit and wealth building. She then called on a few friends to help her work through the kinks.

Three of her good friends—Barbara Bratton, Daña Brown, and Sha Cannon—were just a few of the people that gave feedback on the sample deck.

“From there I met with Brandon Brooks, [owner of the Birmingham-based Brooks Realty Investments LLC], and four other financial advisors to fine-tune the definitions and game logistics,” Lee said.

Though Lee was unable to land a job in physical education after graduating from college, she now sees her career with NGB Inc. as life’s unexpected opportunity to teach on her own terms.

“Bartending and waitressing taught me that working for someone else was not for me,” she replied. “In order to get the life I always wanted, I had to create my own business.”

In her entrepreneurial pursuits, Lee strives to be an open-minded leader who embraces the need for flexibility.

“COVID-19 has shown me that in entrepreneurship you have to maneuver,” she said. “When life changes, sometimes your business will, too. You may have to change the path, but your ending goal can be the same.”

“Game of Fortune: Win in Wealth or Lose in Debt” is available and sold only on the “Game of Fortune” website: gameoffortune.money. To learn more about Tae Lee and Never Go Broke Inc., visit taelee.money and nevergobroke.money or email tae@taelee.money; you also can follow her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nevergobrokeinc) and Instagram (@nevergobrokeinc).

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