How much does credit repair cost? – Forbes Advisor
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Bad credit scores can seem impossible to fix until you come across an ad for a credit repair service company. These companies promise to help you repair your credit. All you have to do is write them a check and wait. Here’s the truth though: credit repair services are very expensive, and you’re paying for something you can do yourself.
Learn the ins and outs of credit repair before hiring a credit repair company.
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What is Credit Repair?
Credit repair companies help remove errors from your credit report with the goal of increasing your credit score.
Some credit repair companies offer additional features in package upgrades, such as free credit score updates, writing cease and desist letters to debt collectors, or even writing letters of recommendation to all lenders you are applying for a loan from.
However, these additional services are usually not worth the higher fees. For example, a letter of recommendation from a repair company is unlikely to sway a lender. Additionally, you can get your credit score for free elsewhere and you can also write your own cease and desist letters with templates on the internet.
Can you pay to get your credit repaired?
Contrary to what the name suggests, you are not able to just pay money for a good credit score. This is because credit repair companies can only help remove errors; they cannot remove harmful but correct information.
For example, if you’ve made multiple late payments, defaulted, have a large credit card balance over your total credit limit, or other common negative marks, and that’s correct, companies credit repair can’t do anything.
How much do credit repair companies charge?
Credit repair services generally charge in two ways, depending on the company. Some companies offer a pay-per-removal model where they charge for each error they can remove from your credit report.
More commonly though, credit repair companies use a subscription-based model, which ranges from $50 to $150 per month, depending on the specific package. You may also have to pay a startup fee (sometimes called a first job fee), which can be the same price as a full month’s subscription.
Most companies have ways to keep you signed up for several months. Some companies limit the number of deletions they’ll help you with each month, forcing you to stay signed up longer if you have multiple errors. Other companies offer updates to your credit score, and since it can take a few months for your score to update, they advise you to stay signed up, while paying a monthly fee, until you see the changes will reflect on your credit report.
Either way, it’s an expensive road to travel. If you have to pay a $100 first job fee plus six months of credit repair services at $100 a month, you’re looking at spending $700 on something you could do yourself.
Beware of Fraudulent Credit Repair Companies
One of the most unfortunate things about credit repair companies is that there are many scammers hidden among legitimate companies. Here are some red flags to watch out for.
How to Fix Your Own Credit for Free
Believe it or not, you can fix your own credit for free and you don’t have to pay anyone to do it. Follow these five steps to do so:
1. Request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three offices of AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Review each page and highlight any errors you see.
3. Write a dispute letter to each credit bureau for each error you see.
4. Wait for a response from the credit bureau regarding their decision.
5. Check your credit score in a month or two to see if it has changed (not all mistakes will affect your credit score).
If you’re really confused about your credit situation, consider working with a nonprofit credit counselor who can help you get back on your feet for a reasonable price. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a great place to find a reputable credit counselor.