One of the biggest concerns our clients have is “will my credit score ever recover from bankruptcy?” The simple answer is absolutely yes, it will recover, and in fact, it’s possible to rebuild to a great credit score quicker than you think. It is actually possible to get your credit score over 700 within 1-2 years after filing bankruptcy. Here are 4 simple steps you can follow to help make that happen.
Step 1: Start Rebuilding Payment History with 2 New Accounts
Start by getting a credit card and a secured loan on the same day. You may only qualify for a secured credit card at this point, and that’s okay. Secured credit cards and secured loans are where you put down money in exchange for them to give you credit. If you can qualify for an unsecured credit card go ahead and get that instead of the secured card. On the credit card, only spend $25/month and pay it off in full every month.
You can get a secured loan from a credit union. You will deposit the loan amount ($1,000.00 is a typical amount) into a savings account at the credit union and in exchange, they will give you a loan for $1,000.00. You then pay off this loan over a year. This helps your credit score by giving you another account with good payment history.
Step 2: After 5 Months Get a 2nd Credit Card to Keep Forever
5 months after Step 1, go ahead and apply for a regular unsecured credit card – you should be able to qualify for it now. This should be a good card from a reputable company with NO annual fee and some good rewards/points that you keep forever – it is important to try to build long term history on at least one credit account. On this card only spend up to 30% of the credit limit per month and pay it off in full every month.
Step 3: After 11 Months Get Another credit Card and (Optionally) Close the 1st Card
11 months after Step 1, get another unsecured credit card. If your first card was a secured card and had an annual fee, you may want to go ahead and close it. You don’t need it anymore now that you have 2 good unsecured credit cards. Again, only spend up to 30% of the credit limit per month on this new card and pay it off in full every month. I recommend using your two credit cards to buy most normal purchases so you build up points and earn yourself money. You just have to make absolutely sure to pay them off in full every month to avoid getting charged interest which will defeat the whole purpose of earning points.
Step 4: Correct Inaccuracies on Your Credit Report
You can really do this step at any point after your bankruptcy has been closed for 2 months. The purpose of this step is to make sure your credit reports are reporting all your old accounts accurately. Go to http://annualcreditreport.com and request a copy of your credit report from all 3 agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Once you receive them, review them line by line. All of your accounts prior to the day you filed bankruptcy should be showing as discharged. If they’re not, or they’re otherwise inaccurate, send a letter to the credit report agency disputing the information. They should correct it. If not, contact me or another lawyer who handles credit reporting and get some help getting it fixed.
Congratulations! If you’ve followed these 4 steps you’ll have built up some great payment history on your credit report and you should have seen a dramatic increase in your credit score your first year after bankruptcy. Now just keep up the good work and watch that credit score keep climbing higher!
BONUS: 4 More Credit Tips to Keep Your Credit Score Shooting Higher!
- Apply for credit line increases on your credit cards every year. This will increase the ratio of available to used credit which will increase your score.
- Don’t apply for new credit more than once every 6 months at most. Credit inquiries on your credit report hurt your score.
- Never ever get a late or missed payment. Late or missed payments are always going to lower your credit score.
- Always pay off your credit card statement balance in full every month. Don’t get stuck in the snowball effect of credit card interest!
We hope these tips will help you rebuild your credit after bankruptcy. If you’re currently struggling with overwhelming debt and need a bankruptcy attorney near Snellville, Loganville, or Monroe, Georgia, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!