Key takeaways

  • Working with a credit repair company is not the only way to start mending your damaged credit.
  • If a credit repair company isn’t right for your needs, consider handling the credit repair process on your own or working with a credit counselor.
  • Credit repair doesn't mean overnight results — even if a company advertises otherwise.

While credit repair can be a means to improve credit, the process of working with a credit repair company isn’t right for everyone — and it isn’t your only option. Consider the alternatives to see if one may be a better fit for repairing your credit and expanding your access to financial products.

Do it yourself

The DIY approach to credit repair requires you to do the heavy lifting involved with restoring your credit health. It’s true that a credit repair company may have additional expertise. Still, it doesn’t have capabilities to do anything you can’t do on your own.

Even better, repairing your own credit will cost a fraction of the price — likely no money at all. That said, you are required to do a little legwork, which involves getting copies of and studying your credit report, filing disputes for any errors found and awaiting results.

While it may feel intimidating, DIY credit repair will help you avoid additional monthly fees and, ideally help you better understand your credit health.

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Pros

  • Can help you avoid additional fees.
  • Step-by-step guidance is available.
  • Can be empowering to handle it on your own.
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Cons

  • Requires more time than hiring someone.
  • Can be challenging to communicate with credit bureaus.
  • Removing disputes must be done in a very specific manner.
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Best for

DIY credit repair is best for a patient consumer whose budget is already too tight to add on another expense.

Improve your payment history

Your payment history accounts for 35 percent of your total score. So, if your credit score is on the lower end, working to improve your payment history may provide a significant boost. Your payment history includes any products that are credit related, like credit cards, mortgages, car payments and installment loans.

To do this, you must pay your bills on time, get current on past-due accounts and communicate with your lenders if you might miss a payment to make arrangements. It’s also wise to enroll in automatic payments to avoid potential late fees.

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Pros

  • Can create a better monthly payment routine to ensure you don’t fall behind.
  • Will decrease additional fees for late payments.
  • No cost to an outside company outside of repaying missed bills.
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Cons

  • Can be a long process.
  • Requires time for your score to see improvement.
  • No additional expert support.
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Best for

Improving payment history is best for those whose main driver of poor credit is missed payments and who are eager to take control of their finances.

Work with a credit counselor

If a traditional credit repair company is not the right option for you, a credit counselor can be a viable alternative. This approach still allows a professional to do the bulk of the legwork for you. But you’ll also get the benefit of more attentive guidance and can be offered by nonprofits, often at no or minimal cost.

You will work with a trained professional who will take a close look at your current spending habits, debt load and credit reports. Based on their analysis of your financial health, you will receive a tailored action plan to address your financial issues. One approach here may be a debt management plan (DMP), which focuses on making your balances on unsecured debts more manageable so you can pay them off sooner.

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Pros

  • Advice tailored specifically to your financial situation.
  • Potential to address and fix consistent financial missteps.
  • The counselor may help with creditor negotiations.
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Cons

  • Some companies require a monthly payment for service.
  • If your debt is more or less under control, it may not help.
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Best for

The ideal candidate for credit counseling is someone who is willing to learn and adapt their spending habits.

Bottom line

If you find yourself in need of credit repair, you are not alone. But if the process of working with a credit repair company feels intimidating or doesn’t quite fit your needs, there are other options.

Consider a DIY approach, focus on improving your payment history or work with a credit counselor to improve your credit profile and overall financial health so you can meet your credit goals.