According to a study by the Federal Trade Commission, about one in five American adults have an error on at least one of their credit reports. Errors on your report can impact your credit score, potentially leading to increased fees and interest rates on your next credit card or loan.
While there is no official definition for credit repair, in general, it is the process of addressing errors and negative items on your credit reports, such as charge-offs, late payments, and collections. The simplest form of credit repair involves disputing wrong or expired information on your credit report with the reporting bureau, such as updating an incorrect account balance. More complicated cases, such as those involving identity theft, may require more significant credit repair procedures.
Just as with any service, the cost of your credit repair will vary based on how much work it will take to solve your problem and the solution you choose. A full-service option, such as a credit repair agency, may cost more because they take care of everything for you while doing it yourself costs less because you’re not paying for professional assistance.
Credit Repair Agencies ($49 – $139/Month)
Enlisting the services of a credit repair agency is often the easiest way to complete the credit repair process because they do the work. Most companies charge a monthly fee, ranging from about $50 to over $100. Fees will vary not only from company to company, but will also depend on the types of services you need.
If you have a complicated case or a large number of errors to dispute, you may see higher costs than if you only have a few items that need to be addressed. The more complex your repair, the longer it will take — and monthly fees can add up after a while.
Credit Repair Software (Up to $399)
As with a repair company, credit repair software will vary in cost depending on the features it offers — the less you pay for your software, the less you’re likely to get.
At the low end of the spectrum, expect a bare-bones collection of templates and tips for you to go about the process on your own, and maybe some simple calendars. For an attractive user interface, automated reminders, and comprehensive letter generators, you should be prepared to spend at least a few hundred dollars. However, once you pay for the software you own it and are free to use it anytime a future credit repair need arises.
Free Credit Repair (DIY)
The only truly free credit repair solution is to do it yourself. All three of the major credit bureaus now offer online portals where you can file your dispute or check the progress of an existing dispute.
Keep in mind that, as in all things, you get what you pay for — especially when it’s free. If you have a large number of disputes, are battling fraud, or have other complications, it could be worth the money to spring for the help of a credit repair professional who knows exactly how to repair your credit.
While the best credit repair company is the one you feel comfortable using, there are a lot of factors to consider when comparing. While things like fees and features may be more obvious, don’t forget to check the company’s status with the BBB and industry associations; if the company has a bad reputation among other companies, you should take the warning.
Credit Repair Reviews — 3 Top Credit Repair Companies
If you don’t know where to start or want an expert opinion on a good place to begin your search for a credit repair company, check out our top-rated suggestions.
1. Lexington Law Credit Repair
A group of consumer advocacy law firms, Lexington Law offers its clients over 25 years of credit repair experience. Lexington offers a free consultation and reasonable monthly fees, all backed by a solid reputation and round-the-clock client support.
2. Sky Blue Credit Repair
Offering a flat-rate payment structure and lower-than-average monthly fees, Sky Blue is an affordable option for a credit repair company with a BBB score of A+. Sky Blue has a dedication to speed, advertising an average of 15 disputes (5 items per bureau) every 35 days.
With customized tools and a focus on technology, CreditRepair.com offers both an online dashboard and a mobile application. Clients can track the status of their disputes, as well as changes in their credit score, from wherever they need to be.
The short answer? It depends.
The amount of time your credit repair process takes will depend on your personal situation. The more disputes you have, the longer it will take to resolve them all. In general, each dispute is investigated within 30 days, but investigations are not always quick. Expect credit repair to last at least six weeks, but it could take a year or longer.
The effectiveness of credit repair is a bit of an eye-of-the-beholder deal. Insofar as credit repair is a process designed to remove errors and certain negative accounts from your credit report, then it does work — the credit repair process can effectively help remove disputable items.
On the other hand, many people undergo the credit repair process in the hopes of improving a poor credit score. In this respect, credit repair may only sometimes work. Successfully removing an item from your credit report can only improve your credit score if the removed item is hurting your credit score in the first place. There is no guarantee that credit repair will impact your credit score at all, as many variables are taken into account when calculating your score.
Either way, you should always remove any errors or outdated information from your credit report — regardless of the actual effect on your score — as soon as you discover them. A clean credit report can give you peace of mind the next time you apply for a loan; you’ll know that an inaccurate credit score isn’t holding you back from qualifying for a better interest rate, saving you time and money in the long run.