Compare Credit Help Companies
Are you looking to improve your credit? A company that specializes in helping people clean up their credit reports may be able to help. However, not all credit help companies are made equal. Some are a waste of money. Learn how credit help works and what you should look for when comparing credit help companies.Read More
SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids. Learn more
Loading results ...
How to shop for Credit Help Companies
Are you looking to improve your credit? A company that specializes in helping people clean up their credit reports may be able to help. However, not all credit help companies are made equal. Some are a waste of money. Learn how credit help works and what you should look for when comparing credit help companies.
How do credit help companies work?
credit help firms analyze credit reports, look for mistakes, and work to remove any erroneous information they uncover. While you can contact the credit bureaus and your creditors directly, hiring an expert streamlines the process and takes the responsibility off your shoulders. Firms will negotiate with creditors and do the heavy lifting of submitting forms so you don’t have to. However, not all credit help firms are trustworthy. There are some credit repair company scams. Checking credit help reviews and company ratings can help you avoid these scams.
What are the most important features to consider when comparing credit help companies?
Great question! It’s important to perform your due diligence when looking for a credit help company as you will be giving them access to your personal information. Hiring a company with questionable practices can leave you worse off than when you started, potentially opening you up to identity theft or credit fraud. SuperMoney provides free credit help company reviews, which can help you avoid credit help company scams. Protect yourself and get on the road to a better financial future by asking the following questions when you vet firms.
What services does the credit help firm offer?
Not all firms are equal. Some will offer more comprehensive services than others. To help you get the most value, you’ll want to consider what that company offers you. Here are the main services to look for:
- Pull all three of your credit reports (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).
- Review the specific details of your credit reports.
- Identify the items on a credit report that are damaging.
- Dispute questionable negative items (late payments, charge-offs, collections, repossessions, judgments, identity theft, bankruptcies, etc.).
- Offer education on how credit reporting works, how to optimize your report, and how to dispute errors.
- Help setting up a plan to build positive credit.
- Provide monthly updates.
Check the services each firm offers to ensure you get the most for your money.
How much does the service cost?
Find a company with a fee structure that is competitive for the value being offered. Companies often charge a monthly fee and sometimes also charge an initial processing fee. On average, monthly fees range between $50 and $150. Initial processing fees average around $80. Look for firms that offer a free consultation to assess if they can help you before you pay anything. Additionally, go for companies that offer a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their services.
Does the credit help company set realistic expectations?
Repairing issues on your credit report takes time. How much time? Read this SuperMoney article to ensure you have realistic expectations about how long it will take to improve your credit score. When challenging an item, the credit bureau has 30 days to respond. If the credit bureau disagrees, the next step is to go to the creditor, who also has 30 days to respond. If your creditor confirms your claim, you’ll need to contact the credit bureau again. The bureau then has 30 days to respond. With this in mind, credit help firms should not offer a “quick-and-easy fix.” Instead, they should let you know that the process will take time — at least 30 to 45 days, often longer. Additionally, they shouldn’t guarantee they will fix an error or raise your score. Further, if a company claims they can remove legitimate items from your report, walk away.
Does the credit help company provide a clear written contract?
credit help firms must provide you with a written contract that clearly outlines their services and costs. Some will require a minimum commitment, like 12 months. Others will work on a month-to-month basis. The latter firms are preferable in most situations. A month-to-month arrangement allows you to quit at any time without paying a fee. If you are not provided with a contract, that is a red flag.
Does the firm have a good track record?
Check a company’s online reputation to see how past customers rate it. You can read reviews about many companies here on SuperMoney’s listing page. Also, check with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and attorney general’s office for complaints that have been filed about each firm you consider.
What do credit help reviews say about the quality of the company’s customer care?
The credit help firm should have a client support team that you can reach via email and phone. Live chat support online is a bonus. Check the channels of support, the hours of service, and the estimated response time. Check what SuperMoney’s community credit help reviews say about a firm’s customer service before you choose.
How long has the company been in business?
Consider how long the company has been in business when comparing options. Firms that have been in business for at least five years and that have positive reviews are more likely to be trustworthy.
Is the credit help company's staff qualified?
Check the requirements for a credit help firm in your state and city, such as being insured, bonded, and licensed. For example, credit help companies in California must register with the Department of Justice and get a $10,000 bond. Unless they are based in Florida, companies should be registered with your state’s attorney general’s office. If they are not, they should at least be registered with or accredited by another state-wide consumer protection agency. Two such agencies are the National Foundation of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC) and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE). Make sure that credit help companies you consider are compliant with federal and state requirements. Additionally, staff members who will be handling sensitive information should be bonded. Also, you should prefer firms that have licensed legal professionals on staff (such as attorneys).
6 steps to repairing your own credit
Although hiring a credit help company can help, you also can do it all yourself. Below are some ways to build a good credit score so you can enjoy the financial benefits that come with it.
Reach out to your creditors
If you’re having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors, explain your situation, and seek their help to lower your interest rate (especially on credit cards). Work with them to create a modified repayment plan. If you wait until your accounts go into collections, it will be too late.
Lower your credit utilization ratio
Your credit utilization ratio (CUR) is the amount of debt you owe on your revolving credit accounts relative to the total credit you have available. A CUR can be calculated for each of your accounts individually, as well as for all your revolving accounts taken together. Your CUR is one of the most important factors in your credit score. It accounts for 30% of your overall score. The general rule of thumb is to keep your CUR at 30% or less. So if you had a $1,000 credit line, for example, you’d need to keep the balance at or below $300. It’s important to apply this rule to each of your credit accounts as well as to all your accounts taken together. By doing so, you can improve your overall score. The lower your CUR is, the greater the improvement of your score is likely to be. The ideal is to take your CUR down to zero when you pay your credit bills each month. The closer you get to doing that, the more you’ll improve your credit score. You can lower your credit utilization ratio (CUR) by:
- Paying down your debt.
- Increasing your credit limits.
- Using a personal loan to consolidate revolving debt.
Pay your bills on time
Pay at least the minimum balances on all of your bills by the time they are due. Do this for at least a year. Establishing a positive pattern will work in your favor and help increase your score. Take it a step further by paying more than the minimum monthly amount to keep your balances down, if you’re able to. This is important because your score jumps up when your balance falls below 30% of your credit limit.
Become an authorized user
Does a family member or trusted friend have the good credit and full credit card history you lack? You can reap credit benefits by getting added onto that person’s account as an authorized user. And you don’t even have to use the card to get the benefits of the account.
Get a secured credit card
You can’t go back in time and reverse late payments. You can, however, start making on-time payments today. And you should. Payment history is the most influential factor in your credit score. A good place to start is by getting a secured credit card. With a secured card, you have to put down a deposit that’s generally equal to the credit limit you want. The credit card issuer uses your deposit as a way to protect itself in case you default. You can then use the card as you would a regular credit card, and you’ll get your deposit back when you close the account. When shopping for a secured credit card, compare the fees, interest rates, and other features, then pick the one that best suits your specific needs. Also, make sure the credit card issuer reports to the credit bureaus. It defeats the purpose if they don’t.
Get a credit-builder loan and don’t use the money
It may seem counterproductive to take out a loan and not use the funds. But when it comes to repairing your credit, it can be a smart strategy. You can use the loan to save money and build a positive payment history. It works by investing the funds into a secure investment vehicle, such as a CD. Most major banks and credit unions offer them as a service to customers. Companies like Self Lender also provide similar competitive rates on credit-builder accounts. The money you borrow will be deposited directly into the CD account, and you’ll make payments on the loan each month. In essence, you’re borrowing from yourself. After you’ve paid off the loan, including interest, you’ll be free to benefit from the CD as an investment. Once it matures, you’ll receive earned interest plus your original deposit. Your bank will report your on-time payments to the three major credit reporting agencies, thus helping you improve your credit score.
What if you can’t get a CD because your bank doesn’t offer them or you don’t qualify?
If that’s the case, you can take out a personal loan and use the funds to purchase a CD from any financial institution of your choice. If you get your loan through an alternative lender, make sure you work with one that reports to at least one credit bureau. Only consider lenders that offer competitive rates, will work with poor-credit borrowers, and report payments to at least one credit bureau. Get personalized loan offers in seconds to see what you qualify for.
Be proactive to keep your good credit
Once you’ve established a good credit rating, you’ll want to keep it — even improve upon it. The only way to do that is to be proactive in how you handle your debts.
Monitor your credit reports
Your credit report provides an overview of your current and past credit accounts. It also shows whether they are active or closed, and whether they are in good standing. A bad credit score may be the result of identity theft or a mistake made by a creditor or the credit bureaus. That’s why it’s important to monitor your reports regularly. If you’ve never reviewed your credit report, do so immediately and at least once every year thereafter. You get can get a free report from AnnualCreditReport.com. As you review your report, look for errors or accounts you don’t recognize. For example, you may see accounts you’ve never opened, incorrect balances, or wrong personal information. If you do find any errors, you can either work with the creditors and credit bureaus yourself or hire a credit help company to do it for you. Once you’ve sorted everything out, the errors or fraudulent accounts should disappear from your report by the next reporting cycle.
Maintain active accounts and avoid closing credit cards
Credit bureaus judge your creditworthiness on the number of accounts you have open and how well you use them. Closing a credit card, for example, will influence your overall credit score. Why? Because it will affect two key factors that determine your score in the first place: your credit utilization ratio and the length of your credit history. So, if you can, try to avoid closing credit cards that you’ve had for a while. Here are some additional tips to remember:
- Use your credit cards sparingly.
- Repay them as quickly as possible (preferably each month).
- Refrain from “maxing out” (reaching your credit limit).
- Pay more than the minimum payment each month.
Don’t apply for new credit
Every time you apply for new credit, a “hard inquiry” will be listed on your credit report. Your credit score will suffer if you have too many hard inquiries on your report within two years.
Manage your budget wisely
The only way to maintain financial solvency is to know your income and your outflow. Spending beyond your means is a surefire way to get trapped in a web of debt.
Handle debt collectors immediately
According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, debt collectors cannot:
- Call before 8:00 a.m. or after 9:00 p.m.
- Call you at work.
- Harass, lie, or manipulate you to collect a debt.
Additionally, debt collectors must stop further contact when requested to do so in writing. Your first inclination may be to avoid collectors at all cost. But it’ll be more productive and beneficial to find out who they are so you can send them a cease and desist request.
Repair your credit today
You can reap the benefits of a good credit score by following three simple steps: fix any credit history errors; pay your bills on time; and keep your credit balances low. Easy, right? Well, that depends on what you mean by “easy.” The basic principles are clear and simple. But do-it-yourselfers can easily miss steps along the way. This is where companies that specialize in helping you clean up your credit come in. Before trying to repair your credit all by yourself, consider working with a credit help firm.
Some key things to keep in mind when looking for a credit help company
- Registered and licensed. Work with a company that is registered with the Attorney General and has a licensed legal staff.
- More than just credit help. Reputable companies will offer more than just credit help services. They’ll also provide credit counseling, including advice on how to rebuild and maintain good credit.
- Fulfill promises in a timely manner. Make sure that the company is doing what they promised to do in a reasonable time frame. Many non-reputable companies will be slow to act but quick to collect a monthly fee from you in the meantime.
Most reputable companies will be affiliated with one or more of the following organizations:
- Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).
- Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA).
- Better Business Bureau.
- Council on Accreditation (COA).
- International Standards Organization (ISO).
- National Association of Certified Credit Counselors (NACCC).
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Review and compare credit help firms to find the right one for you
Ready to get started? It’s a good idea to compare at least three firms before making a selection. Thanks to SuperMoney, shopping around doesn’t have to be difficult. We have curated a list of credit help companies along with their pricing, features, credit help reviews from past customers, and more. Check what other consumers say about a firm in our credit help company reviews. Save time finding the right firm for you by easily comparing your options below, side-by-side.