Credit repair companies have helped millions around the country have a better financial future. They eliminate the hours and hours of research and writing/data entry that comes with disputing negative credit marks by yourself. Going through a credit repair company typically will be the better route to go as they are well versed in federal and state credit law and how it can be utilized to remove those hard-to-fix negative marks on your credit report.
The three companies I’m going to talk about have helped either myself or someone I know personally with their credit challenges. Even if you are part of the 0.01% of the U.S. population that has a 300 credit score (the lowest credit score possible), these companies can and will help you drastically improve your credit score. The list is relatively short as we at The Credit Dojo only want to focus on the best of the best with real world experience to back up the companies claims.
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Credit Repair Company #1 – Lexington Law ($89.95/month)
Lexington Law is the complete package when it comes to credit monitoring and repair. They are always consistent with the level of service they offer and do a thorough job of handling any type of credit problems that can typically be found on your credit report. The firm has been around for decades, so they are not a fly-by-night operation. They advertise that you will see results by 60 days, but in almost all cases people saw results MUCH sooner than that (real world results from people I know, not based on yelp reviews).
That is very impressive seeing as the typical length of time being advertised today is around 3 to 4 months. The initial fee for Lexington Law is $89.95, and you will be charged $89.95 monthly. Lexington Law is an excellent choice to repair your credit. They do offer higher-tiered service, but for needs of most people, the $89.95 service should be sufficient (named the “Concord” service).
The website is pretty easy to navigate. They have the phone number listed on the main page if you like talking to a real person. There is also a Credit Education feature on the page that will walk you through how credit works, what credit repair consist of and explain why having a professional credit repair representative working for you may be the best way to get results fast. They also have some tools on their site that show what effect a specific credit score range can have on a home loan, auto loan, credit card application or loan refinancing. Anything you can think of related to credit, Lexington law appears to have it covered in-depth.
Why Choose Lexington Law?
Other than their longevity (they have been around since 1991), what does Lexington offer their customer that no one else does? Check out this list of why you should choose Lexington Law for your credit repair:
- The whole staff consist of Lawyers and Paralegals that understand credit law inside and out
- They offer a free initial consultation
- All of their attorneys are licensed to work with credit
- Adhere to both state and federal law when it comes to credit repair
- They have removed over 10 million negative items from credit reports
- More than just a credit repair agency (criminal defense, bankruptcy, divorce, etc.)
- iPhone and Android Applications
- They have a whole BLOG dedicated to credit and unique credit problems
- Many big news networks are affiliated with them
- Over half a million clients served
- Average 10.2 items removed from your credit report during a 4 month window
Everything about Lexington Law screams quality. From the length of time they have been in operation, to their well thought out and put together website; they’ve left a very good impression on us here at The Credit Dojo. The abundant reviews found throughout the internet speak for themselves
Summary of Lexington Law
They have a long history of dealing with all types of credit problems. The reviews for Lexington Law all over the internet and reviews from my peers confirm their quality over quantity approach. Other benefits from working with Lexington law includes dealing with attorneys that have dealt with credit/debt law for decades. They aren’t novices; you will know how competent they are after speaking with them for the first time. They are well versed in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Credit Billing Act and Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. This allows them to view your credit/debt situation and attack it from every legal approach possible by law. You can sign up by clicking on the company logo above. You can also CLICK HERE to learn more.
Credit Repair Company #2 – CreditRepair.com ($99/month)
CreditRepair.com has been around for more than a decade and has a lot of experience with dealing with credit problems of all types. They take your credit report, evaluate it then layout their game plan for addressing the negative items on your credit report. Then they will reach out to the creditors on your behalf to address the credit problem you’re facing. This will save you both time and energy if you are not up for the task of learning credit repair. It sounds so simple, but believe me when I say this is a lot of work! The initial fee to get things started is only $14.99. After that, you will pay $99.95 a month for their services.
The website is well laid out and easy to navigate. The menu items are straight forward and simple. You can choose to learn “How it Works”, read “Reviews”, or click “Who We Are” to learn more about the companies mission and what services they offer their clients. On the main page, they also have a section called “What You Get” that states exactly what comes with their package (which is a lot for the price). While they don’t have their own internal “Education” section like Lexington law, they do offer links to some of their partners who offer in-depth knowledge about credit.
Why Choose CreditRepair.com
Like Lexington Law, they have been around for quite some time, but what set’s them apart from the rest? There are a number of unique features and services offered through CreditRepair.com. They are as follows:
- CreditRepair.com works with the creditors and lenders to resolve the problem (not just submit blanket disputes)
- The initial fee is by far the cheapest
- 24/7 credit monitoring is available for all of their clients
- Short window from consultation to results
- Provides subscribers with a mobile application to monitor on the go
- An online dashboard and credit score tracker are available
- TransUnion credit monitoring comes with the package
- Their partners are quality companies such as Credit karma and Lending Tree.
- They offer TONS of reviews from previous clients on their website
- iPhone and Android Applications
As you can see with this list, you will get quite a bit for the money. All bases are covered with CreditRepair.com, which is why we recommend them and incorporated them into our top 3.
Summary of CreditRepair.com
CreditRepair.com offers the consumer a lot for the money. The turn around time from consultation to result is fairly quick. I only have feedback from one individual who has used this service, and they claim it to be “extremely thorough”. They removed all but one item within the first 2 months, and the last within 3 months. That is VERY impressive and fast in regards to removing negative items from a credit report. The Personal Member Dashboard is also useful as you are able to see the changes to your credit in real-time. They also offering identity monitoring with their package. CreditRepair.com sets you up for a future of financial success in a very timely manner. You can sign up by clicking on the company logo above, or sign up by clicking HERE.
Credit Repair Company #3 – The Credit Pros ($99/month)
The Credit Pros is a complete package. They offer much of the same services as Lexington Law. One of the cool features that sets them apart is their Pay for Deletion service. With this, you only pay for the items that are deleted from your credit report ($50 per negative mark and $75 per public record removed). That means if nothing is able to be removed from your report, you don’t pay a dime. This is great for those who don’t have too many blemishes on their credit report and need professional assistance removing items from it. In the long run, this has the potential to save you a TON of money. The initial fee for their monthly individual service is $179 for the initial fee, then $99 a month after that. For couples, it is $279 for the initial fee, then $149 a month.
The site is fairly simple. It is not as information-rich as Lexington Laws site, but it does a good job of getting to the point. There is a YouTube video on the main page that informs the potential client exactly what it is they do. They also have this neat feature that pops up and shows whenever an item is deleted from a users credit report. These notifications are pretty nifty as you can see just how frequently they are able to remove negative items off of consumers credit reports. Here is a screenshot of one:
That’s a nice way to show appreciation for the customer while also showing just how frequently their service works for the consumer. It’s a win for everyone.
Why Choose The Credit Pros
This is the newest of all of the Credit Repair services I have on my list, but I still feel they deserve an honest chance at your business for the following reasons:
- Customers get a free initial consultation with a credit expert
- Payment is only collected for deleted items
- Unlimited Phone Support, as well as unlimited deletions included in the price of the subscription
- Score tracker that offers a really in depth analysis of the reason for the score given
- Licensed attorneys
- TransUnion credit monitoring comes with the package
- Copies of your credit report are sent to you every time a change is made (sent directly from the credit bureaus)
- iPhone and Android Applications
- They offer all of their customers a 100% money back guarantee
Summary of The Credit Pros
The Credit Pros are not as established as Lexington Law since they have only been around since 2009. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. From the people I know that have worked directly with them and online reviews, I can say with confidence they do not have any major blemishes on their record in regards to the services they offer consumers. They use tons of various strategies to improve credit score problems of all types. For this reason and their honest Pay for Deletion service, they make The Credit Dojos top list. You can sign up by clicking on the company logo above, or by visiting The Credit Pros HERE.
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Take Control of Your Credit
While there are many companies out there that can help you, it is your credit we are talking about. Do you need professional assistance? Can you fix it yourself? For me, I chose myself as I was a broke college student and couldn’t afford a professional. While it did work in my favor (luckily), there were still a few items where I could have had removed sooner had I been more knowledgeable. This is where a professional comes in hand and can really help you. I know, we typically flock to what is the cheapest. But cheaper is not always better in this case, especially when it directly impacts your finances.
At the end of the day, you are responsible for what is on your credit. Hiring a professional may not be for you. You can if you wish try to learn credit repair strategies yourself to address your credit problems. The Credit Dojo provides a wealth of articles that can teach you how to repair your credit yourself, the components of your credit score and rid yourself of credit problems without paying a dime. They are as follows:
Now get to work!
If you follow these articles, you will gain at the very least a basic understanding of credit and what goes into your report and score. It will empower you to take control of your credit. I will say this is not for everyone as depending on how many items you have on your credit report, it can be VERY time consuming. Always remember to stay on top of your credit and make sure you are spending responsibly. Thank you for stopping by The Credit Dojo!
Beginner’s Guide on How To Save Money
It may seem hard to justify saving money when you have a low income and high amounts of debt. But there are plenty of good reasons to have a growing savings account, even if you’re putting most of your excess cash into debt repayment.
You Need A Rainy Day Fund
Life happens. Your car breaks down. Your dishwasher ends up needing replacement. You have a medical emergency. A close family member passes away and you need to help cover funeral costs. These things happen to everyone and it would be silly not to plan for them.
We recommend having around $3,000 saved in case of emergency. This money would not be touched at all, and only used if you’re in a situation that you cannot pay for with your job income.
You Want To Have Runway
Runway is a term used to describe the amount of time someone can be without income before they have to resort to taking out debt.
We recommend building up your runway to the point where you have a full year’s worth of expenses saved up.
Once you have 12 months of expenses saved up, you’re much more free to take risks such as going back to school, switching to a higher paying (or more fulfilling) career, starting a business, or investing in real estate.
You might think that it will take years for you to save up this amount of money, and that’s true. But we recommend saving up for this anyway, even if you have debt to pay back.
We’re also going to talk about how you can cut down expenses in such a way that makes this goal a much more manageable one. It’s a lot easier to save $24,000 than $36,000, for example.
How To Save Money
Here are the easy ways to save money:
Look at your income and expenses.
Take a look at all usable sources of income. Only include what you can consider to be income. This includes:
- Your job income (W-2)
- Pensions, military benefits
- Side hustle income
- Business income
- Investment income that isn’t being reinvested
If you have unpredictable income (for example, if you’re a freelancer or business owner), you will need to take an average of the last 3-6 months and do budgeting quarterly. The result is that you end up saving money every quarter, piling it up in advance.
Break your expenses down.
Categorize each of your expenses based on what they’re for. Your biggest expenses are likely your rent/mortgage, transportation costs, and debt repayment.
Here are some expense categories you can use:
- Groceries and necessities
- Entertainment (include takeout and restaurants here)
- Childcare & children’s activities
- Other expenses
How you categorize your expenses is up to you. Then, you need to take an honest look at your spending. Look at your bank and credit card statements and get the real numbers! Don’t estimate. We recommend using a tool such as YNAB or Mint in order to track how you actually spend your money.
You may notice that we excluded debt repayment. For debt repayment, we recommend snowballing your debt and paying low amounts on the rest of the debt. You’ll need to use a calculator to figure out how much you’re paying every month using this strategy. Learn more about snowballing your debt!
Decide which expenses are the most important.
Take some time to think about this, because even though you want to have all of the benefits of what you currently pay for, not all of them are worth keeping.
For example, you might have an unlimited data plan when your data usage (which you can check on your phone) indicates that you only need a few GB.
Rank your expenses from most to least important. The least important ones will eventually be cut out to support your savings goals!
Cut out any expenses deemed unnecessary.
You decide how you live your life, and you need to choose which expenses you can live without in order to achieve your financial goals.
For example, you might be spending less on groceries and more on takeout. This might seem like it’s saving you time, but it’s actually costing you a fair bit. However, this may not be an unnecessary expense if you find yourself unable to cook your own meals.
Subscriptions are one of the biggest sources of budget burn. There might be a few subscriptions that you use regularly, but most subscriptions provide only a small amount of benefit for a high annual cost. $10/month ends up being $120/year, which could have done into your savings.
Look for any other opportunity to reduce your expenses.
It’s likely that you haven’t made the best financial decisions in the past. That’s okay: many of those can be corrected. For example, if you have an expensive car note, you may be able to sell that car, purchase one for less, and pay down the rest of your car note. This could save you thousands of dollars.
Or, you might find that you’re paying a great deal of money on your mortgage. You may be able to refinance. We have another article on refinancing your debt: check it out for more info!
Decide how much you will save.
Essentially, whatever is remaining after your expenses, debt repayment, and investments should go into a savings account. Your savings accounts should be categorized as such:
- Rainy Day Fund (put up $3,000-$5,000 in this fund)
- Runway Fund (put up to 12 months expenses in this fund)
- Large Purchase Goals
Our recommendation is to focus on these things, in this order. If you don’t have $3,000 for a rainy day, or if you recently spent your rainy day fund, you need to put money in that fund before you put money elsewhere!
How much you save and how much you invest will depend on your own personal preferences. We recommend maxing out your 401(k) plan and taking advantage of employer matching.
Keep in mind: someone WITH debt should not be saving as much of their income as someone without debt! If you have debt, you should be putting your money into paying it off, as that will save you the most money in the long run due to accruing interest!
How To Get Your Annual Credit Report for 2020
One of the most important aspects of financial discipline is to understand your credit history. If you understand what’s on your credit report, you can see what information lenders are using to determine whether or not you qualify for loans. You can also see what they’re using to determine your credit score. Keep reading this blog on how to get your annual credit report for 2020 in free.
Certain items on your credit report may be hurting your credit score. However, it’s possible that those items aren’t supposed to be there. There are laws surrounding what credit bureaus can legally keep on your credit scores. Despite this, mistakes do get made sometimes.
You also may be a victim of fraud, but you might not know it. Some fraudulent items can exist on your credit report and hurt your credit score, even if they’re clearly evidence of identity theft or some other crime.
The good news is, you don’t have to be left in the dark about your credit. The US government guarantees every US citizen the right to a copy of their credit report once every year. Best of all, the US government mandates that the credit bureaus provide this report for free.
So how do you get your free annual credit report for 2020? Let’s discuss.
What Is A Credit Report?
Your credit report is an annotated history of your debts. It’s used by lenders to see your overall credit history.
What Information Does A Credit Report Contain?
Your credit report contains information going back up to 7 years for most things, 10 years for other things, and past that for a select few items like tax liens.
It contains a history of payments made on your debts, including but not limited to: credit cards, car loans, mortgage, student loans, and lines of credit. It also contains a history of balances held on those items.
Your credit report also contains information about past due payments, items in default, items in collections, and bankruptcies. This information is highly useful for lenders and employers who don’t wish to rely on just a credit score.
What Is Your Credit Report Used For?
Items on your credit report are used to calculate your credit score. Your credit score is a three digit number between 300 and 850 that gives lenders a general idea of how creditworthy you are.
However, lenders don’t just want to see your credit score. They also want other info, such as your income, your total debt balances, and your debt payment obligations. Although your income isn’t included in your credit report, the other items are. For this reason, lenders don’t just want to look at the credit score: they want to see the whole picture.
To learn more about your credit score, read our article on the quick & dirty guide to your credit score!
How Do You Get A Free Annual Credit Report for 2020?
It’s very easy to get your free annual credit report for 2020. All you have to do is go to the Free Annual Credit Report website, located at https://annualcreditreport.com. This domain is owned by the US Government, and is the only place that you should go in order to get your free credit report.
To get your free credit report, go to that website and follow the instructions. You can get a credit report from each of the three bureaus, for a total of three credit reports per year.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can get free weekly credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus until April 2021, for COVID-19 assistance. This way, you can get more than three credit reports this year for free.
The Difference Between Your Credit Report & Your Credit Score
When most people think about “good credit”, they think about high credit scores. Any credit score above 800 is considered “excellent”, regardless of the circumstances behind the score. Keep reading this blog to know the difference between credit score and credit report.
But there’s much more to credit than a three digit number. Every person has a credit report, which is a compiled history of their loans, payments, and available credit.
What is the difference between a credit report and a credit score? Let’s discuss both in detail.
What Is A Credit Score?
Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that represents how creditworthy you are. The higher the number, the more creditworthy you appear to lenders.
Your credit score should not be used as a gauge of financial success. Many people with low incomes have near-perfect credit scores, if they know how to handle money. Likewise, many high-income earners have low credit scores due to past borrowing history.
What Is Your Credit Score Made Of?
Your credit score is calculated by proprietary formulas owned by the credit bureaus. These formulas were originally developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation, known as FICO today. For this reason, credit scores are still known as FICO scores.
The reality is that you have multiple credit scores, used by different lenders for different purposes. This isn’t something you should concern yourself with, as the credit score you get when you check it is an accurate representation of what lenders see when they process your loan application.
FICO scores are calculated using 5 different criteria that are considered to be relevant to your creditworthiness. These 5 criteria are:
Payment History: 35%
Payment history describes a history of payments made toward the balance of loans. It includes loans that have since been paid off.
This is negatively affected by past due payments and loans that have gone into default due to these past due payments.
Amounts Owed: 30%
Amounts owed, also called credit utilization or available credit, describes how much money you owe compared to the amount of credit you have available to you.
This is negatively affected by having a large amount of debt outstanding compared to the amount of credit you have. For example, if you have a $10,000 credit card limit and you owe $9,000 on it, you’ll see a negative effect on your score.
Age of Credit Accounts: 15%
This does not just include credit cards, but loans, mortgages, and lines of credit.
If you’ve had a longer credit history, you will be positively affected.
Credit Mix: 10%
Credit mix describes the different types of credit you have available to you.
If you have a car loan, a mortgage, credit cards, and personal lines of credit (and you’re up to date on all of them), you will be positively affected.
New Credit: 10%
New credit, or credit inquiries, describes whether or not you’ve applied to open new credit accounts.
This is usually not a big deal, but if you open a lot of credit accounts in a short period of time, you will be negatively affected.
What Is A Credit Report?
Your credit report is a comprehensive history of your credit activity.
Your credit report does not come with a number attached to it. Instead, it only describes your credit activity.
Lenders look at your credit report in tandem with your credit score in order to find things that may indicate that you’re not a creditworthy borrower. For example, your credit score cannot tell a lender if someone has had a recent bankruptcy. It’s not a descriptive measure. Instead, the lender will look at the credit report to see if there are loans in default, bankruptcies, tax liens, or if you simply have too much debt outstanding to qualify for the loan.
You can get a free credit report every year by going to https://annualcreditreport.com which is a site run by the US government. This can be used for all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. Therefore, you’re entitled to three credit reports every year; one from each of the bureaus.
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