So you’ve filed bankruptcy and gotten your discharge. Congratulations–you’re debt-free! Now you need to start rebuilding your credit rating. It’s not something that happens overnight, but with some work and persistence, you can rebuild your credit score.
1. Monitor your credit score and credit history.
First, you need to keep track of your credit and your FICA score. There are two ways to do this.
The three main credit reporting agencies, Transunion, Equifax, and Experian, are required to give you a free credit report once a year. So, log into www.annualcreditreport.com once every 4 months and pull a credit report. This way, you can get a good idea of what’s going on with your credit history without having to pay any money. We do not recommend joining sites that charge you money to monitor your credit history and score. You can do this yourself for free!
Credit Karma has one of the coolest websites out there for tracking your credit score, and it doesn’t cost you a thing! This site updates your credit score each month, and also gives a helpful analysis so you can figure out what’s helping you and what’s hurting you. Credit Karma also has lots of useful tools to help you pick out a good secured credit card, which brings us to our next point. [/styled_box]
2. Get a secured credit card.
Second, you need to get a secured, or pre-paid, credit card. Opening a line of credit with a secured credit card is one of the best methods available to help you rebuild your credit. You usually need to deposit $500 to open the card. After you open the card, it is important to:
- Make small purchases on the card
- Pay off the balance every month (or even sooner–it’s good practice to pay off the balance weekly!)
- NEVER carry a balance on the card!
By getting a secured credit card, making only a few small purchases, and paying off the balance every month, your credit score will gradually start to improve. This is because your FICA score is partially based on the amount of credit you have compared with how much credit you have available. Credit Karma devotes part of its site to reviewing secured credit cards. We recommend you use this tool to help you find a secured credit card that best suits your needs.
3. Pay your bills on time.
Lastly, you need to pay your bills. This may sound obvious, but developing a history of paying your bills on time will help improve your credit score. If you already have a house or car payment, make a special effort to pay these loans right when they are due.
Rebuilding your credit score is a gradual process, and it takes hard work. Remind yourself that you have made it through bankruptcy, so you’ve paid off most or all of what you owe anyway! CMC Law is a law firm based in Atlanta that specializes in complex bankruptcy issues. You can find us on Google+. If you have specific questions about rebuilding your credit, or questions about bankruptcy in general, don’t hesitate to contact us or call us today at 404.585.0040.