10 Tips For Rebuilding Your Credit After Filing For Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy is a very tough pill to swallow. Yes a bankruptcy may stay on your credit report for up to 10 years depending on the type, but there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. After filing, your score will be rather low, but there are steps you can begin taking right away to start rebuilding your credit.
Below are ten steps you can start taking now to get you on the road to good credit again.
1. Assess your situation by reviewing your credit report
Your first step to getting your credit back on track is to get a copy of your credit report and go over it to make certain everything is accurate. If you do encounter any errors, make sure to dispute them and get them corrected promptly. There are plenty of places to access your credit report and you are entitled to one free credit report each year from the 3 agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
2. Open a secured card
Credit cards are one of the simplest ways to start rebuilding your credit. Now that you have filed for bankruptcy, though, it will be tough to get approved for one. The one way to get around this is by opening a secured credit card. When deciding which card to go with, pick one that reports your account to the credit bureaus and be sure to shop around for the best rates. With a secured credit card, you make a deposit of your choosing to the card issuer, typically this is between $200-$500. This money now serves as your line of credit. As you make payments, the more available credit you have access to. Once you establish a period of on-time payments, you should see your score start to increase and at that time you can probably look into applying for a regular credit card.
3. Try a co-signed loan or card
If you have anyone that would be open to co-signing a loan for you and they have good credit, go for it. It is a big favor to ask since the co-signer will now be responsible for any debt you incur. Their own borrowing limits will be affected as well since they now have more debt obligation.
4. Become an authorized user
If you do not have anyone who can or will co-sign, see if you can be added on as an authorized user on their credit card. Just be sure to confirm that your payment activity will be reported back to the credit bureaus. If not, do not bother being added on as it will have no affect on your credit score. Doing this will not result in the same credit increase as some other methods, but it is definitely worth trying out.
5. Pay Bills On Time
35% of your credit score is made up of your payment history. With that being said, start off on the right foot and make sure all your payments moving forward are paid on time. It is one of the easiest ways to improve your credit score.We are all forgetful at times, so using a calendar to set up reminders is an easy way to make sure you don’t miss a payment.
6. Pay off your balance in full every month
Paying off your full balance at the end of the month is crucial when you are trying to reestablish credit. Doing so shows creditors that you are not risky and those timely payments go a long way when improving your score.
7. Apply for a secured loan
Secured loans are also known as credit builder loans. You do not see them advertised very much and they typically are offered by community banks or credit unions. The money you borrow is deposited in a savings account and you do not have access to the money until the loan has been fully repaid. For holding up your end of the deal, the financial institution will send a report to the credit bureaus about your good payment history.
8. Open a new checking and savings account
Now that you have filed for bankruptcy, demonstrating good financial habits is key. A great way to start fresh is with opening new checking and savings accounts. You may also want to think about enrolling in automatic online bill pay. Just be sure to use calendar reminders so that you make sure you have enough money in your account before these transactions go through.
9. Apply for a gas card or a retail card
Gas and retail credit cards are know to cater to those with lower credit scores. They are good to get because they report to the credit bureaus and with timely payments, will increase your credit score. We like the gas card idea since gas is a necessity and a department store card opens you up to unnecessary purchasing. But if you feel you will use the card sparingly and pay off the balance each month, either card will work for you.
10. Leave accounts open
Closing your accounts does more damage to your credit score than you may think. You will reduce the amount of credit you have available and that in turn will bring down your score. Keeping credit lines open and paying down any balance you have monthly will benefit your credit score. If you are feeling tempted to over spend with your credit card, cut it up.
When it comes to life after bankruptcy, the most important thing you need to be is patient. Just like the journey to bankruptcy did not happen overnight, neither will your credit improving. By trying out some of the suggestions above, the road to better credit and a more solid financial future is in reach.