If you’ve experienced some setbacks financially, you might have taken a hit with your credit score. Fixing your credit can’t happen overnight, it’s a long game. There are some things that simply can’t be removed from your credit report without the passing of time.
The time has come that you want to start looking at making a big purchase like a house. Or maybe you simply want to improve your credit now that you’ve regained your financial feet. Whatever the reason is, you want to get your credit repaired.
If you don’t have the time or not sure how to fix it on your own, you could consider hiring a credit repair company. In exchange for a fee, a credit repair company will help improve your credit score.
Best Credit Repair Companies
Hiring a good credit repair company can be a bit difficult. There are many credit repair companies that are untrustworthy and make false claims. The U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that the consumer bureau’s complaints about credit repair services, credit reporting, and other “personal consumer reports” were 43 percent of the complaints in 2018.
Here are seven of the best credit repair companies that have favorable reviews and should be considered.
This credit repair company is a law firm that services customers nationwide. They were founded in 1991 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Since 2004, they’ve exclusively focused on their credit repair service. Their Better Business Bureau rating is a “C”.
A set-up fee of $6.99 is charged regardless of which of the three tiers of service you choose.
These tiers are as follows: Concord Standard, Concord Premier, and PremierPlus.
Starting with their most basic tier of the Concord Standard service, it costs $89.95 per month. This is the most affordable package out of the three. For this package, they will contact your creditors and the credit bureaus on your behalf to attempt to get negative remarks removed from your credit history.
Their secondary tier is the Concord Premier package which will run you $109.95 per month. You receive the same services as the Concord Standard plus TransUnion alerts and score analysis.
Rounding out their packages is the PremierPlus which is $129.95 per month. This package includes all the services in the previous two. It adds on credit score monitoring, identity theft protection, and personal finance tools which are meant to help improve your money management.
Here are some of the key highlights for Lexington Law:
- Offers free consultation and credit repairs
- Can cancel service anytime
- Mobile app available for easy account access
- Removed 7,500,000 negative items from their client’s credit reports in 2015 with an average of 10.2 removals in four months
Their first tier of services should generally be enough to work for most clients. Their results have been mixed overall. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau has filed a lawsuit against them. The suit alleges that Lexington Law has violated telemarketing laws and used abusive practices such as charging up-front fees.
They have been in business since 1989 and have services available nationwide. Blue Sky is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau.
They offer simplicity in their pricing model which is set up on an individual or couple basis.
There’s a one-time set-up fee of $79.This is charged within six days of enrollment.
Once you have been enrolled, during the first six days they will help obtain your free credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Using these reports, a thorough review is conducted of all the items that are listed. Areas of concern are highlighted so they can send dispute letters to the credit bureaus.
This process of investigating your credit report will continue for a flat, monthly rate of s $79. You can add a partner or spouse for half off. That comes to $118.50 for a couple to get service for two.
Sky Blue works to provide “fast” credit repair and efficiency in their process. Other things you should know about them are:
- Free consultations
- You can cancel or pause your membership as you like without penalty
- Offers debt settlement, debt validation, goodwill letters, and cease and desist letters in addition to preparing and sending dispute letters
- Will dispute give items for each credit bureau every 35 days
- Sends customized re-disputes
- Offers a 90-day guarantee for fees paid in the first 90 days
Their service is more personalized than other credit repair companies. They will tailor suggestions for what you can do to improve your credit score based on your situation. Sky Blue works fast with some customers noticing an improvement within 30 days.
Receiving an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Credit Saint has been around since 2004 and are based in New Jersey. They offer three different packages for their services called credit polish, the credit remodel, and the clean slate. An initial signup fee is charged with each package along with a monthly fee.
The lowest package of the credit polish is $79.99 a month with a fee of $99 to enroll. They will challenge charge offs, collections, identity thefts, and late payments with this package.
The next package of the credit remodel is offered for a monthly charge of $99.99 with a $99 enrollment fee. You receive all the services included in the credit polish plus it adds challenges to repossessions and bankruptcies.
Finally is Credit Saint’s most expensive package of the clean slate. It’s $195 to enroll and a monthly charge of $119.99. It adds challenges to judgments while providing all the services provided in the credit polish and credit remodel.
Other noteworthy details of Credit Saint are as follows:
- Each package includes an online account, allowing you to monitor their progress
- Customers are assigned a personal advisory team who will call to answer your questions
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- Refunds are available for payments made in the first 90 days of service
- Nationwide service
Their programs are one of the most aggressive that are available in the industry. Their credit remodels service releases more challenges per cycle than Lexington Law’s top program.
A newer provider who was founded in 2001 offers two options to pay for their all-inclusive service. The first option is their monthly plan which runs $79 per month with a $19 sign up fee. There’s no additional charges if you choose to cancel at any time.
Then there is the six-month membership that consists of a one-time fee of $419. No other additional monthly fees or sign-up fees are involved in this package.
For people who need straightforward credit repair, the Credit People are a good match. They offer the basics of credit reinstatement. That includes finding legal loopholes, removing as many negative items as possible, and fixing mistakes.
Their customer service offers more individual attention which many of their customers have appreciated. There’s an online manager who’s dedicated to working on your account. For those that prefer reaching a persona to talk about your credit, the Credit People is a good option. You can reach their customer service by phone and email.
Other items that you should know about the Credit People are:
- Customers receive a personal online account, accessible via a mobile device or computer
- Customer service hours are during Central time zone business hours
- Credit people will dispute any items that are unfairly reported or questionable charges
- Offer seven initial days of free service
- Results average about 45 to 60 days
They don’t specifically guarantee certain results with their service. They estimate that their customers have increased their credit score from a range between 53 and 187 points. Their service doesn’t offer any of the extra “bells and whistles” found like identity theft protection.
One of the most credit repair companies that have been around for the longest time is Ovation Credit Services. With a Better Business Bureau rating of A+, they have been in business for over 44 years. In 2018, they were acquired by LendingTree.
They offer two plans: the Essentials Plan and the Essentials Plus Plan. Their lower-cost Essentials Plan has a start-up fee of $89, then a flat $79 monthly fee. You get personalized dispute options which allow you to dispute items on your credit report that are unverifiable, misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate.
Ovation Credit Services will assign you a Personal Case Advisor that will guide you through the process of disputes and help you take steps to improve your credit. Financial management tools such as a budget builder are also included in this package.
The Essentials Plus Plans has an $89 start-up fee and a $109 monthly charge. You get all the services available in the Essential Plan included with this it. It adds unlimited challenge validation letters, unlimited creditor goodwill letters, TransUnion credit monitoring, and a personalized recommendation letter from Ovation to help you with future dealings.
Other highlights of Ovation Credit Services include:
- Offers one of the fastest setups, with same-day service available
- Customer service is available 24/7
- Can cancel anytime, even avoiding charges for a certain month
- Pricing may vary by state
They do not guarantee specific results with their services. According to their website, they make 19 improvements a month on average. They also make note that they’ve worked to correct more than 120,000 credit profiles up to January 2020.
With a history in the industry that spans two decades, Creditreport.com has built extensive experience. They use a 3-step process to repair their customer’s credit: Check, Challenge, and Change.
The first step, Check starts when you sign up for their service by them pulling your credit report from all their credit reporting agencies. Creditrepair.com will organize the information so that you can find the items that you want to dispute. With this information on hand along with your goals, they come up with a personalized plan to improve your credit.
It moves to the next step which is the Challenge. In this step, they start a conversation between the creditor, you, and the credit reporting agency. Creditrepair.com’s experts will address the issues directly with each party while keeping contact while all the changes have been made to your credit report.
Last comes the Change process where negative items have been removed from your score. They also provide you with credit score monitoring and educational tools so that you have what you need to continue with positive credit behavior.
Their service doesn’t list the pricing for their services however it appears they have three levels of service: Aggressive, Moderate, and Basic. These services are based on how many negative items you have on your credit report.
Take note of the following if you decide to go with CreditRepair.com:
- They are not accredited by the Better Business Bureau
- Offer free consultation
- Average credit score increase is reported to be a 40 point increase in 4 months
- Have a comprehensive education section
Their website totes having “experts” on their team but there’s not any information about what makes them experts. Also, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a suit in May 2019 against their parent company, Progrexion. The suit is in reference to their collection of upfront fees and Telemarketing practices.
This credit repair company is relatively new to the industry, starting their business in 2009. They offer a wide menu of services that can be a bit overwhelming. Three different packages have different levels of these services that are included with them: Money Management, Prosperity Package, and Success Package.
Their lowest-cost plan is the Money Management package that runs $49 a month. This includes the following:
- TransUnion credit score
- TransUnion credit monitoring
- Full Credit Report
- DarkWeb monitoring
- Change of Address monitoring
- Social Security trace monitoring
- Pay-Day monitoring
- Social Network monitoring
- Bill reminder
- Budgeting system
- Real-time account sync
Next, is their Prosperity Package which is $119 a month. It includes all the services in the Money Management package. Three-bureau credit restoration, snowball and avalanche debt system, TCP legal network, debt validation letters to creditors, and a Slash Rx pharmacy discount is also included.
Finally, the Success Package will set you back $149 a month. Everything in the Money Management and Prosperity Package is included with this plan. You also get member benefits from the HuttonChase department store which is an online store. You are guaranteed a line of credit of $1500 to purchase items from the store and have those payments reported to Experian and TransUnion.
With The Credit Pros, you work with a certified FICO professional on a one on one basis to help create a plan to repair your credit. Their owner is Jason M. Kaplan who is an attorney and credit educator. It appears he built the company by employing those with experience as credit counselors and FICO experts to help clients.
Other noteworthy details about The Credit Pros are:
- Access to an online portal to get live updates to your case
- Offer a free credit evaluation
- Cancel anytime
- Have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
- Offer a money-back guarantee
Their website doesn’t have information related to the success they’ve had with their clients. This could be due to The Credit Pros being a younger company.
How Do Credit Repair Companies Work?
Credit repair companies work by removing the negative items that are found on your credit report. The result of this is your credit score improves and will go up.
The first thing that credit repair companies do is get copies of your credit reports. They go through them to find errors and negative items that they believe can be disputed with the credit bureau. Tax liens, late payments, bankruptcies, and charge-offs are some of these items that might be included.
Once they have a list of items that can be disputed, they send communications to the creditors. They will request that these items are removed and may include communication such as:
- Cease-and-desist letters that are for debt collectors
- Name, address, and date of birth validation requests
- Disputes of inaccurate information
3 Reasons to Hire a Credit Repair Company
Credit repair companies aren’t doing anything that you can’t do on your own. There’s no magic tools or insider information that enables them to repair your credit without their help. There are reasons why others hire them though to work on their behalf.
Repairing your credit can be time-consuming
The benefit of using one is that disputing items on your credit report can take a lot of time, particularly if you have a lot of things on there. You may need to follow up several times to get one negative item removed.
Credit Repair Companies have knowledge in this space
Their knowledge and experience enables them to contact the right parties, create dispute letters with the correct information, and follow up as needed to get negative items removed.They know what the consumer credit laws are and use them to get results for their clients.
You have Complex Credit Problems
Repairing your credit on your own can be a messy process the more complex your situation is. For example, if you’ve been a victim of identity theft you could benefit from using the negotiation power that credit counselors and attorneys have which work for a credit repair company.
You can think of hiring a credit repair company like hiring painters to paint your home. You could do this work on your own, getting all the materials, learning about what steps are involved in painting, and doing the work. It probably ends up being more efficient in the end to hire painters to do the work for you in the end.
How to Find a Legitimate Credit Repair Company
To find a legitimate credit repair company you should understand what they can do for you and what they can’t. A legitimate credit repair company won’t make promises that they can’t possibly guarantee you.
Look for credit repair companies that have a reputation with the Better Business Bureau and industry associations. These factors tend to show the legitimacy of their business. Their rating doesn’t have to be an A+ rating necessarily on the Better Business Bureau to be legitimate and reputable. Their reputation should show they address problems with their clients however.
Since the services you need will depend on your specific situation, determine what your goals are before the credit repair process. Decide on the type of guidance or counseling that you’re looking for because these services aren’t offered by all of them.
A credit repair company that promises to fix your credit “fast” or offers a 30-day guarantee is not trustworthy. Fixing your credit is not something that can be done in a few weeks. It also very depends on the type of items and how many that you want to dispute. Generally it takes a minimum of six weeks to over a year to repair your credit.
You should also take some time to know a little bit more about your situation before you get started. You can get a copy of your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Having knowledge about your situation will help guide you as you start to work with a credit repair company.
How to Spot and Avoid a Credit Repair Scam
The laws have become more stringent which has thankfully reduced the number of credit repair scams. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission has settled a $3.1 million suit against a company that ran a scheme consisting of student loan debt and credit repair.
You should always be aware of your rights and know if a company is showing warning signs before signing up. Some of the things that should raise red flags include the following:
They fail to disclose to you of your legal rights
There are federal and state laws that govern your legal rights. There’s a written disclosure that’s called the “Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law”, which should be provided to you.
Want to be paid up-front for their work or charge Cancelation fees
Credit repair companies can’t collect payment before performing their work. This is prohibited by federal law. Federal consumer protection laws also prohibit that a credit repair company charges fees for canceling their service.
Your Agreement is not in writing
If they fail or refuse to provide you with a contract, this is a good sign that they’re a scam. Your contract should have information that clearly states what the services are that you are getting, how much you will pay for them, how long the services are covered, and how to cancel services. The name and contact information of the credit repair company should also be provided in the agreement.
Make Claims of Removing Accurate Information
Reporting information accurately is a requirement by law that creditors must abide by. These items can’t be removed by a credit repair company. Additionally they can’t force items to be removed from your credit report to a credit bureau.
They shouldn’t offer up advice or encourage you to make false statements. A credit repair company shouldn’t offer to replace your credit file with a new one. This could be suggested by asking that you get a new social security number. This violates state and federal laws so you avoid a company that encourages this.
Make Guarantees or Promises of their Results
An untrustworthy credit repair company will never claim to deliver specific results within a certain time-frame. They also can’t guarantee to raise your credit score by a specific amount or number.
What Does a Credit Repair Company Do?
A credit repair company can essentially do anything that you can do when it comes to repairing your credit. This includes the following:
- Get copies of your credit report from the credit bureaus
- Review them for inaccuracies and errors
- Send letters to have negative items removed from your credit report to the credit bureaus and creditors
- Make requests that incomplete information is corrected to the credit bureaus
- Send debt collectors cease-and-desist letters
Some credit repair companies offer other services such as identity theft protection, credit monitoring, and educational tools. These types of services are generally meant for the on-going management of your credit after it has been repaired.
How Much Does Credit Repair Cost?
As you have probably gathered from the top seven list of credit repair companies, the cost can vary. Each company has their own pricing model.
You can expect to pay between $70 and $130 a month for credit repair. Generally there is also a setup fee that is charged which could be as much as the monthly fee or more. Many charge a flat fee, while others charge a monthly fee. Some will even charge for every deletion.
Your service might be limited or unlimited as to what you get. An example of this is a credit repair company company that will provide up to 10 disputes per month.
With credit repair, you don’t necessarily have to get the most expensive plan to get the best results. Often these higher-tiered plans include services that you don’t need. Most of them offer free consultants which you should use to allow them to explain their fee structure.
Hiring a Credit Repair Company vs DIY Credit Repair
If you plan to hire a credit repair company it’s likely because if you don’t have the time or want to do it yourself since it can be a lengthy process. It’s obviously going to save you money to do it on your own.
The consumer protection laws of today allow you to have access to your credit score more easily than ever. Many credit card companies allow you to view your credit score, though there might be a lag in how updated it is.
There’s also apps which are available that are sometimes available for free where you can see your up-to-date score. Knowing your credit score is valuable in itself, but if you decide to DIY your credit repair, it’s your best tool.
Here are the steps to credit repair if you decide to DIY it:
- Review – Get a copy of your credit report and review it.
- Dispute – Find errors and inaccuracies and dispute them with the credit bureaus.
- Negotiate – Talk to the credit bureau and creditor to negotiate the removal of negative items.
- Repeat – Every 60 days, repeat these steps.
When you dispute an item on your credit report, here’s an example of what it might look like: There’s a 60 day late notice on your car loan that’s incorrect. Call your lender to discuss the situation and ask them to remove the derogatory remark. As follow-up, contact the credit reporting agencies to verify that it’s been removed.
How Long Does it Take to Repair My Credit?
The time-frame that it takes to repair your credit will vary depending on your individual situation. It could take as little as 30 days if you only have a few mistakes that need correcting. But if you’ve been a victim of identity theft or have several items to dispute, it could take much longer.
Credit reporting bureaus have up to 30 days to verify that a dispute is valid and have it removed from your credit report. In general terms, to resolve the disputes your credit repair can take three to six months. Credit repair is definitely a marathon, not a race.
What Factors Affect My Credit Score?
Your credit score is based on your history of credit behavior. It affects your life in the present and future even though it’s largely a factor of your past. Younger consumers who have less experience tend to have lower credit scores. The average FICO credit score of consumers between 18 to 29 years old is 659.
Your credit score helps lenders decide whether or not to approve a loan and even determines what interest rate you will pay. You should know what factors go into your credit score so that you can protect and continue to build it after repairing it. Here are the five factors that affect your credit score the most below, based on the FICO credit scoring system:
Bill Payment History
Paying your bills on time has a heavy weight of 35 percent of your credit score. You could run into more trouble with charge-offs, collections, repossession, tax liens, bankruptcy, and foreclosure if you have serious payment problems. Those types of actions have even more negative consequences to your credit score. Your best best is to always make your monthly payments on time to avoid trouble.
Level of Debt
30 percent of your credit score is based on your debt level. It looks specifically at how much overall debt you’re carrying, the relation of your loan balances to original loan amount and your credit utilization. The ratio of your credit card balance against your credit limit is how credit utilization is calculated.
Carrying too much debt or high balances will weigh down on your credit score. Paying it down faster will help improve it. Generally you should try to keep your credit card utilization under 30 percent.
Credit History Age
Your oldest credit account should always remain open even if you don’t use it. 15 percent of your credit score is based on the age of your credit. Your oldest account’s age and the average age of all your accounts are both considered.
The reason why it’s important is that it shows that you have had experience with handling credit. When you close older accounts or open new ones, that will lower your average credit age.
Types of Credit
There are two types of credit accounts that can exist on your credit report: Revolving accounts and installment loans. Your credit score is better when you have both types of accounts on your credit report. It shows that you have had experience with managing different types of credit accounts.
Having loans with different types of assets like a home and car is even better. Student loans, personal loans, and credit cards are other types of credit that you may have. 10 percent of your credit score is determined by the types of credit you have.
Number of Credit Inquiries
The last factor that affects your credit score is the number of credit inquiries you have made. This is basically how many applications you’ve submitted which require a credit check. These show up as inquiries on your credit report and account for 10 percent of your credit score.
A few inquiries won’t affect your credit score that much. However if you make several inquiries, particularly over a short period of time, you could lower your credit score substantially. The exception to this is if you’re looking for a loan such as on a home where you’re submitting applications to find the best rates on a mortgage.
Inquiries that have been made in the last 12 months will show up your credit score. After 24 months, they will disappear. It should be noted that when you check your own credit report, it shows up as a “soft” inquiry. This doesn’t affect your credit score.
Alternatives to Credit Repair
If you don’t want to DIY your credit repair or hire a credit repair company, you still have some options. Consider some of the options below if you’re looking for something that falls somewhere between the two.
There are some great not-for-profit credit counseling organizations which can help you repair your credit. You should be aware that there’s also some scams and illegitimate credit counseling services out there. Always do your research before choosing a company.
Make sure that the organization you choose is accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. A credit counselor who is good at their job will review your credit report with you to help you understand what details it contains. They will then help come up with a plan of action.
Credit Repair Software
Software for credit repair can run you a few hundred dollars to over $500. They tend to be a very middle of the road solution that’s between DIY and a credit repair company. The software includes all the tools you need for your DIY project repairing your credit.
It will provide you with templates that you can use to develop letters for the credit bureaus and creditors. Suggestions on how often you should follow-up, as well as contact information of the credit reporting agencies will also be provided. You still have to do all the legwork and spend the time repairing your credit.
Consolidating your high-interest debt with a lower interest one isn’t a direct way of repairing your credit. What it does is save you money every month and help you manage your debt more effectively in the long run. As you lower the amount that you owe, it will eventually lead to improving your credit score.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is do you want to pay to have someone else repair your credit on your behalf. If you decide to do it on your own, you will need patience and follow-up to get to your goal. Have an understanding of what your situation is before going out to find a credit repair company. That will make it easier for you to know what services you need and find a credit repair company that works for you.