2020’s Best Options for Cheap Credit Repair

Cheap Credit Repair
GUIDE
Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: December 19, 2019
Advertiser Disclosure

When it comes to fixing things, there are two main types of problems: those that can limp along until you have time to repair them — such as that old pair of headphones held together with duct tape — and things that should be repaired as soon as possible, like your car’s brakes.

Your credit report belongs in the latter category. In other words, as soon as you notice something wrong on any of your credit reports, you need to fix it.

While credit repair isn’t as simple as slapping on some duct tape, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process — or an expensive one. When it comes to cheap credit repair — or even free credit repair — you have options. With a little DIY, you can fix credit report errors without putting a dent in your wallet. If you’d rather get an expert’s help, many reputable companies offer variable rates based on your specific needs. Keep reading for information on several effective approaches to credit repair.

Free Credit Repair | Top Companies | Tips for Successful Credit Repair

You Can Repair Your Credit Yourself for Free

Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are legally entitled to a fair and accurate credit report. A part of this right is the ability to dispute any items on your credit reports that are inaccurate, outdated, or otherwise erroneously reported.

Screenshot of Experian Online DIspute

You can file online disputes with all three credit bureaus through their individual websites.

Now, this can be done by hiring a professional to act on your behalf, but professionals cost money, so you may want to look for a cheaper method.

Thankfully, there are no actual costs associated with filing the dispute itself, which means you can do it for free if you’re willing to file your disputes yourself.

Each of the three main credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — offers a simple online interface for filing a credit report dispute.

You’ll want to provide as much (pertinent) information as possible, and include copies of all relevant documentation necessary to back up your claim.

Depending on the nature of the dispute, you should have a result (one way or the other) within 30 days of filing. The more information you can include in your initial filing, the more likely it is that your dispute will be settled quickly and in your favor.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to file a separate dispute for each individual item and with each credit bureau. For example, if the same outdated account shows up on each of your three credit reports, then you’ll need to file an individual dispute with each of the three bureaus.

At no point in the process of a self-filed credit report dispute should you be required to pay a fee to any of the parties involved. (The only real exception is if you request additional copies of your credit reports or scores beyond those to which you are legally entitled).

Of course, nothing is entirely free. If you don’t pay with money, you’ll pay with your time — as is the case with free credit repair. In simple cases of one or two mistake, this can mean a minimal investment. For more complicated credit repair cases, however, it could mean hours of your time.

Most Credit Repair Companies Offer Multiple Service Levels

For some folks, the money saved by doing something on their own well outweighs the time spent on the task. For others, the opportunity cost of that time — the other things they could have been doing instead of the task — is well worth the cost of hiring a professional.

Even if you have the time to file each dispute yourself, there is a lot to be said for the value of experience. That’s why many people choose to hire a reputable credit repair company to handle their disputes, rather than potentially wasting hours of their own time. Our top-rated companies have decades of credit repair experience.

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Most quality credit repair companies will offer a free consultation (though you may need to pay for copies of your credit reports). This consultation should include going over your credit reports and identifying which — if any — items may be eligible for dispute.

Once you know where you stand, you can work with the company to find an affordable service plan. Many companies will provide a range of service options and price points to meet the needs of a variety of customers. This can help you to avoid paying for more advanced services that you may not need (or want).

As you would any financial services company you intend to trust with your finances and/or financial reputation, be sure to research your prospective credit repair companies thoroughly before signing any agreements. Properly vetting a company can help ensure you aren’t left in a worse situation than when you began.

Investigating a credit repair company should involve checking its reputation with business watchdog services like the BBB and Consumer Affairs. You may also want to check out reviews from actual customers to get an idea of the company’s effectiveness and customer service.

Tips for a Successful Credit Repair Experience

As with most things in life, having a successful credit repair experience starts with being properly prepared; the more you know before you get started, the less likely it is that you’ll make a mistake or have false expectations. With that in mind, checking your credit reports is the very first step of the credit repair process.

Logos of Three Main Credit Bureaus

Happily, checking your credit reports doesn’t cost a cent. You are legally entitled to one free copy of each of your credit reports every year through AnnualCreditReport.com.

A number of credit monitoring services — some free, some paid — will also provide you with copies of your credit reports.

You’ll need to check all three of your reports for the full picture of your credit, as some creditors may only report to one or two of the credit bureaus. This means each of your reports can contain different information, and mistakes could be on one, two, or all three of your reports.

A thorough credit report evaluation includes checking the accuracy of all of the information, making note of each and every error, no matter how small. A typo in your name may not seem like much, for instance, but it could cause accounts to be reported that are not your own, or cause accounts that are yours to not be included.

Verify that all of your personally identifiable information, such as your name and address, is accurate and up to date, and that all public record data is correct. Additionally, be sure you recognize each and every account listed on your reports, and check that the balances, credit limits, and payment histories are properly reported.

Your reports will also show recent credit inquiries — i.e., who has requested copies of your credit reports — including both hard and soft inquiries. Since hard inquiries can impact your credit score, be sure you recognize each inquiry as one you initiated (typically as the result of a credit application).

While you’ll obviously want to notate any spelling or other secretarial errors, be sure to notate any other potentially disputable items. These include factual mistakes, outdated information, fraudulent items, or unsubstantiated accounts.

Credit Report Evaluation Infographic

Once you know exactly what items you need to dispute, you can decide the best way to deal with them. If you only have a few small issues, it can be worthwhile to file the disputes yourself. If you’d rather have a professional handle it for you, now is the time to find a reputable credit repair company.

Keep in mind that you should only dispute items that are realistically eligible for dispute. Filing blanket disputes of every negative item on your credit reports may get your disputes flagged as frivolous. The credit bureaus are under no obligation to investigate a frivolous dispute and can simply reject your dispute.

An Experienced Company Can Be Worth the Investment

Although some things can be just a little bit broken, many other things are more absolute: They’re either right, or they’re not. For instance, your credit reports are either correct — or they’re not.

Mistakes, outdated information, or unsubstantiated items on your credit reports can cause significant damage to your credit scores, potentially making it more difficult to find credit (and more expensive when you do).

You should check your credit reports at least once a year, which, happily, is free. Any errors on your reports should be addressed right away, regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire a pro.

In the case of one or two items, doing it yourself can save you both time and money. In more complicated cases, however, hiring an experienced (and reputable) company may be well worth the investment in both success and time saved.

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