have bad creditHaving good credit is essential when it comes to things like getting approved for new credit cards, opening utilities in your name and renting or buying a home. Unfortunately, not everyone has the best credit, whether it’s by the fault of their own mistakes, such as missing payments, or circumstances out of their control, like falling victim to identity theft. The good news is that you don’t have to have bad credit forever, as there are several things you can do to help undo the negative marks on your credit reports and credit scores. It should be noted that if you’re a victim of identity theft, you can get fraudulent information removed from your credit reports, but it will take some time. As such, taking some steps to alleviate your bad credit will help revamp your credit history sooner. We’ve detailed a few things you can and should do if you want to make changes to your bad credit.

Check your credit reports

It’s important to know where your credit stands, which is why you’ll want to be sure you not only check your credit reports before you start making any steps to improve your credit, but also make sure you continue to check them after you implement any changes. It’s also important to know what your credit reports look like so you can report any errors, which may be dragging your credit scores down, as soon as you spot them. Although many people may be unsure exactly how to check their credit reports, it’s a fairly simple process. In fact, every U.S. citizen is legally allowed to view all three of their credit reports — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — once a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. If you want check up on your reports more than once a year — something you’ll definitely want to consider if you’re rebuilding your credit — you may want to look into a credit report monitoring service, as most services allow you to receive regular updates of all three of your credit reports and scores as well as alert you if there are any changes to your credit reports.

Pay your bills on time

While this may seem like an obvious one, missing just one payment on a credit card, loan or mortgage bill can and will affect your credit. And if you begin missing multiple payments, or worse, you miss multiple payments over a period over time and the account is sent to collections, the damage to your credit scores can take quite some time to repair. That’s why it’s vital to pay all of your bills on time, even if it’s only the minimum payment, as any on-time payments will have a positive impact on your credit reports. That said, paying a little more than the minimum payment — even if it’s just an extra $5 — will help you pay off the balance more quickly, which will have a positive impact on your credit reports.

Look into a secured credit card

If you have bad credit and keep getting denied for the credit cards you’ve applied for, a secured credit card may be the option for you, as these cards are designed to help people build credit. In fact, most secured credit cards report to all three of the credit bureaus so you can rebuild credit with responsible use. These types of credit cards look and function like traditional credit cards do, but the difference is secured credit cards require a security deposit when you open the account. This security deposit serves as a safety net for the card issuer or bank in the event that you don’t make your payments. The amount of the deposit depends on the type of card you decide to open. For example, your available balance with the Discover it Secured card matches your security deposit. So if you put down a $250 security deposit, you would have a maximum line of credit of up to $250. On the other hand, the Capital One Secured Mastercard gives you an initial $200 credit line after you make a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 — the amount required is determined by your creditworthiness. Regardless of the security deposit you put down or the card you select, if you use it responsibly, you can build a positive credit history in no time. Visit our secured credit card reviews to find the best option for you.

Consider using a credit repair service

Although any combination of the options above will help you build a positive credit history, sometimes you may need a little extra help. That’s where credit repair steps in. Sometimes confused with credit monitoring services, credit repair is something entirely different. While credit monitoring allows you to view your credit reports and scores, credit repair can help you to fix any errors on your credit reports. Whether the errors on your reports are due to identity theft or if it’s an error on the end of a creditor or a credit bureau, credit repair services can help address and fix any mistakes that may be on your credit reports, which could help to raise your credit score. These services will communicate with credit bureaus on your behalf to help contest, dispute and remove the necessary incorrect items. It’s important to note that these services are only effective in removing inaccuracies on your credit reports, and they won’t help to remove any factual negative marks on your credit, such as late or missed payment history.

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