You are about to read a simple how-to manual on credit improvement. This page can act as a compass to orient you in the direction towards success. I have seen too many people with negative attitudes which prevented them from either reestablishing their credit or improving their credit report, so my advice from the start is to stay positive because your goals can be reached.
- Word of Caution
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) In A Nutshell
- Numbers To Call To Get Your Credit Reports
- Tips On Obtaining Your Credit Report
- Tips to Obtaining a Secured Credit Card
- How To Buy A Plane Ticket Without A Credit Card
- Buying A Home With Little Or No Down Payment
- Obtaining A Gasoline Credit Card Even If You Have Filed Bankruptcy
- Tips about Credit Repair Companies
- 7 Reasons You Are Rejected For Credit
- How To Rent A Car Without A Credit Card
- How To Rent A Hotel Room Without A Credit Card
- The Take Home
MAJOR TIP: 80% of improving your credit report is Your Attitude!
As soon as you say: “It’s hopeless”, it is, because you have decided that nothing can be done and so you won’t do anything.
But when you say: “I’m not going to whine anymore; I’m going to FIGHT!” then you are really ready to begin.
MAJOR TIP: Say aloud “I WILL IMPROVE MY CREDIT REPORT!”
I know it is silly to say it out loud, but every person I have had as a client who has verbalized this statement has succeeded!
So one more time: “I WILL IMPROVE MY CREDIT REPORT!”
Word of caution
The information on this page is to help orient you to the process of improving your credit. And yes, you can improve your credit report yourself. However, this page is not a substitute for a lawyer or a professional counselor.
If you have significant credit issues, it is still recommended that you consult with an attorney or professional counselor before embarking on a program of credit improvement.
There are many simple traps to which the inexperienced novice will fall victim of and this page can’t possibly cover all them which arise, and which are constantly evolving.
Credit bureaus are not your friend and they are programmed to report negative information versus good information.
Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) in a nutshell
Below are the main points of the Fair Debt Reporting Act:
- The right to know what your credit records contain.
- The right to be told by a credit bureau the nature, substance, and sources (except investigative sources) of the information (except medical) collected about you.
- The right to know the name and address of the credit bureau responsible for preparing a credit report used to deny you credit, insurance, or employment, or to increase the cost of your insurance or credit.
- The right to a free copy of your credit report if you are denied credit and the denial is due at least in part to credit record information. (Requests for a free copy must be made within 30 days of your receipt of the notification of denial)
- The right to review your credit report in person at the credit bureau, by phone, or by mail.
- The right to take someone with you to review your file, if you visit a credit bureau in person.
- The right to have investigated within a 30-day time period any information in your credit record that you dispute. (If the credit bureau deems your request”frivolous or irrelevant, the law says that the credit bureau need not investigate)
- The right to have inaccurate information deleted from your credit record if a credit bureau investigation finds the information to erroneous.
- The right to have information deleted if the credit bureau cannot verify it through investigation.
- The right to have the credit bureau notify – at no cost to you- those you name who previously reviewed the incorrect or incomplete information in your credit file that the information has been removed or changed.
- The right to know who has received a copy of your credit report over the past six months for credit-granting purposes.
- The right to know the names of everyone who has seen your credit report over the last two years for employment purposes.
- The right to include a brief written statement that will become a permanent part of your credit record explaining your side of any dispute that cannot be resolved with a credit bureau. (You may ask that the credit-reporting agency share your written statement with certain businesses. The agency must do so without charge if you make your request within 30 days of being denied credit)
- The right to have negative credit -related information deleted from your credit record after seven years.
- The right to sue a credit bureau for damages if it willfully and negligently violates the law. (If you are successful in your lawsuit, you may collect attorney fees and court costs as well)
- The right to be notified by a company that it has requested an investigative report of you.
- The right to request from a company pursuing an investigative report more information about the nature and scope of the investigation.
- The right to know the nature and substance of the investigative report but not the sources.
The FCRA does not require that;
- A credit bureau provide you with a copy of your credit file. ( Most bureaus do so, however, if you request it for a fee)
- A business or individual do business with you
- Any federal agency intervene on your behalf
- A credit bureau add information on accounts not already in your file. ( Some credit bureaus will do this for a fee)
- The FCRA does not apply to applications for commercial credit or transactions
Credit bureaus may report bankruptcies for longer than ten years and other negative credit-related information for longer than seven years in the case of loans for more than $50,000, insurance policies greater than $50,000, and jobs paying more than $20,000 per year.
Also, information concerning a lawsuit or judgment against a consumer can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, whichever is longer.
Numbers to call to get your credit report
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit bureaus to accelerate the disclosure of a credit report to an individual. The three major national credit bureaus have adopted telephone services to guide consumers on whether they are entitled to a free credit report (if they live in certain states, or when they have been denied credit benefit because of a credit report, or in certain other situations) or if they must pay a nominal fee (usually around $5.00)
The numbers to call to get your credit report are :
- EQUIFAX, also known as CBI : 800-685-1111
- EXPERIAN, formerly TRW : 800-Experian, 800-392-1122, or 888-397-3742
- TRANS UNION : 800-888-4213
- MIB, Inc : 617-426-3660 (keeps medical summaries for insurers)
Tips on obtaining your credit report
Below are important tips that will help you obtain your credit report:
- Send a Money Order versus a check. The phone message says you can send a check. However, they will wait for the check to clear and consequently it takes longer to receive the report.
- Under Connecticut law, a credit bureau can only charge $5.00 for the report.
- Type your letter, Do not write it. If you hand write the letter and they can’t read a word, chances are that your request for your report will be returned to you which causes unnecessary delay.
- Your full legal name is important. If you are a Jr., Sr., II, etc. be sure to use it.
- The credit bureaus state that you can send your drivers license for verification purposes. First, you have to make certain that your current address and the address on your driver’s license is exactly the same. If your current address is not on your driver’s license, do not send your drivers license because your request for your report will be rejected.
- It is not a good idea to send a copy of your driver’s license because then the credit bureau can get your license number and add it to its database. If you send a copy of your driver’s license, delete the license number!
- It’s preferable to send a copy of your utility bill, which shows your name and current address.
- Don’t forget to include your money order and utility bill when you mail you letter.
- Answer every question completely! You must give two telephone numbers; a day phone number and an evening phone. If you don’t, they could reject your request for your credit report, which simply causes delay.
- Organization, Organization, Organization! Keep a copy of every letter you mail and have 3 separate for each of the 3 major bureaus. Go to a stationery store and obtain file folders!
- Trans Union might not require a copy of your driver’s license or utility bill but wants the name of your current employer. Check by calling their toll-free number for up-to-date information. The credit bureaus are constantly changing their procedures, phone numbers, and mailing addresses!!!!
- If you have been denied employment, credit, or insurance, you can get a free copy of your credit report.
- You must SIGN the letter requesting your report.
- If you certify in writing that you are unemployed and intend to seek employment in the next 60 days, or you are a welfare recipient, or you believe you are a victim of fraud, Trans Union will mail you a free copy of you credit report. Your letter should be in the form of an affidavit and notarized.
Tips to obtaining a secured credit card
Below are tips on obtaining a secured credit card:
- TIP #1: The issuing bank reports your payment history every month to the three major credit bureaus! I know this is simple but it is so important. If your credit history isn’t reported, you are wasting your time and efforts! When you go to get a loan, there will be no independent history of your good payments.
- TIP #2: You want the issuing bank to keep the fact that you have a secured credit card as confidential. Only you and the bank should know you have a secured credit card. You don’t want it listed on your credit report that you have a secured credit card.
- TIP #3: Who are some of the credit card companies which I don’t recommend?
They are as follows:
- Bank of America
- Bank of Hoven
- Citibank (they don’t even report that you have a credit card, until it’s no longer secured)
- Chase (they won’t give you a secured card until your bankruptcy is seven years old)
- Community Bank of Parker (only reports to one major credit bureau)
- Federal Savings Bank
- First Deposit National Bank
- First National Bank (high fees)
- First Minnesota
- Great Western Bank
- Marine Midland Bank
- Old Kent Bank (won’t accept you if you filed bankruptcy)
- People’s Bank
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union
- Sterling (high fees)
- Wells Fargo Bank
How to buy a plane ticket without a credit card
If you want to purchase a plane ticket without a credit card, read the following advice:
- Call: USAirways (800-428-4322) they will accept payment over the phone using an electronic check transfer.
One final word, I am not saying that it’s easy renting a car or hotel without a credit card. Yes, a credit card is fast and convenient. But I simply want to demonstrate that it’s very possible to rent a car or hotel without any credit card and once you get into the system like Hyatt’s ‘Gold Passport Program’ or having a ‘Cash Prepayment Identification Card’, you won’t notice that you don’t have a credit card.
Buying a home with little or no down payment
Where to get the down payment and how to buy a home with very little down payment:
- First: Your mortgage company knows of the Connecticut Down Payment Assistance Program. That’s right! People are lent the down payment to buy a home. You will be told that this only applies to poor sections of a town. Don’t believe it. People have obtained very nice homes in good neighborhoods through the Down Payment Assistance Program. It’s not easy. But it is possible and you need to find an aggressive real estate agent to help you.
- Second: Rent with Option to Buy or Owner Financing. You are going to have to shop and shop to find a good deal. Again, we would recommend an aggressive real estate agent with whom you develop a relationship in order to find these ‘deals’. It takes time and plenty of shopping. Of course, read the paper and call the ad when it says ‘Owner Financing’. But most of these deals come about because of a real estate agent.
- FHA/VA/CHFA: Ask your real estate agent and/or mortgage company about these programs.
You can buy a home using VA benefits for just closing costs which is approximately $3-5,000.
How much house can you afford?
The rule of thumb is that creditors will lend you 3 times your annual income to buy a home. Therefore, if you and your wife earn a total of $50,000 per year, you could qualify for $150,000 mortgage.
However, you don’t want to borrow the full amount which could be lent to you. Cut back to $120,000.00. With $50,000 annual pretax income, you could have a monthly mortgage of $1,150 and you would qualify for a $150,000 loan. If you bought a house for $120,000, your mortgage payment would be $833 and you could buy a $120,000 home.
A little known rule of thumb: If you have $5,000 cash, a good credit report, and steady employment, the chances are excellent you can buy a home. The average car costs $15,000 and you can buy a home with as little as $5,000 cash. That’s amazing.
Getting a gas credit card after filing bankruptcy
Make an investment by purchasing stock in a gas company with gas stations convenient to your everyday driving. Once you purchase stock in the company, they will send you an application for a credit card! Fill out the application neatly, (type if necessary), and accurately.
Purchase the stock through a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP). You’ll by-pass a broker’s commission this way. You must buy at least $250 worth of stock in order to enroll in a company’s DRIP
How do you obtain a DRIP?
From The following:
- EXXON CORP (NYSE:XON)
c/o Bank of Boston,
Exxon, Shareholder Services,
Box 9156, Boston, MA 02205-9156.
$50 minimum subsequent investment.
- MOBIL CORP (NYSE:MOB)
c/o Chemical Mellon Shareholder Services,
Dividend Reinvestment Department,
Box 750, Pittsburgh,PA 15240;
703/846-3900, Corporate Secretary.
$10 minimum subsequent investment.
- TEXACO, INC. (NYSE:TX).
2000 Westchester Ave.,
White Plains, NY 10650;
800/283-9785, Shareholder Relations;
$50 minimum deposit subsequent investment.
Tips about credit repair companies
Before dealing with credit repair companies, make sure to know and follow these tips:
- TIP 1: Do not ever work with an out-of-state credit repair company.
REASON: It’s more difficult for the Connecticut Banking Department and the Attorney General’s Office to get jurisdiction over them.
- TIP 2: There is considerable fraud in the area of credit repair.
REASON: The Federal Trade Commission is trying to put out of business many ‘boiler-room’ credit repair companies.
- TIP 3: Only a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation can charge you any fees for credit improvement.
REASON: A new Federal law was passed which prevents all companies other than a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation from charging you a fee in advance of the work. If a credit repair company is not a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation, they can only charge you for credit improvement after they have improved your credit.
- TIP 4: If a credit repair company promises to remove bankruptcy from your report, this claim is fraudulent.
REASON: Only inaccurate, erroneous and outdated information can be removed from your credit report. If you recently filed bankruptcy, that fact can’t be removed from your credit report.
- TIP 5: If a credit repair company makes grandiose promises, chances are they are not reputable.
REASON: They will promise you a new identity and new credit file by obtaining a new social security number for you! This is illegal.
Reasons you can get rejected for a credit card
The following information is a list of reasons you can get rejected for a credit card application:
- Credit application incomplete
Make certain that your credit application is NEAT! It’s best to type it! Photocopy the application and have a dry run. Complete all questions! If a question does ‘not apply’, write N/A. Do not leave any blanks! Do not have coffee stains, etc on the application! The underwriters will reject your application if you leave a question blank and delay the process, plus you’ll have a rejection. Be careful when preparing your application! The manner in which you complete your application, shows the underwriter how responsible you will be in following instructions.
- Insufficient credit history
Try to focus on positive credit history and refer to your best accounts. That’s why it’s so important to have your credit reports in front of you before you apply because you don’t know how you were reported until you see the report.
- Temporary or irregular employment
Employment stability is critical. It’s best not to apply when you are in a period of irregular employment. If you apply when you are in a period of irregular employment, you are asking for a rejection and a negative mark on your credit report.
- Inability to verify credit references
Some creditors do not report to credit bureaus. If you don’t have your credit report, you won’t know who hasn’t reported you to the major credit bureaus. Usually, oil and utility companies don’t report you.
- Excessive debts
You have to clean up your bills before applying for credit. Don’t even think of improving your credit report until you clean up your bills.
- Insufficient income
All creditors have different guidelines for their income to debt ratios. If one creditor rejects you, another credit could accept you depending on their policies. If they are aggressive about lending, it’s going to be easier to obtain credit. Try to determine if the creditor is aggressive about giving credit.
- Poor payment record
Make your payments early, ahead of time. That’s right! But, you have to make certain that your good information is on your credit reports. If you’re constantly late in making payments, this is a serious strike against you. If you make extra-payments on your car loan, consistently make extra-payments so that it’s paid off early. Again, it’s just as important to pay promptly. Don’t wait for a grace period! You might think that you’ll get a small interest advantage on the ‘float’ but it will be more than offset with the negative late payment on your credit report.
How and where to rent a car without a credit card
The following information is a list of places you can rent a car without having a credit card:
- Alamo 800-327-9633
Alamo is the best. When you travel without credit at Alamo, you don’t have to fill out an application form or make arrangements months ahead of time. To pay with cash at Alamo, you need to have an airline ticket with the same destination as an Alamo office location and you must make your arrangements at least 24 hours ahead of time. When you pick up your car, you’ll need to have a copy of ;your recent phone bill and a copy of your most recent paycheck stub (or your tax identification number if you’re self-employed). You’ll pay a deposit of $50 per day ($200 for a week), in addition to your estimated rental fee.
- AVIS 800-331-1212
You should apply to Avis to be cash-qualified at least 90 days prior to your trip. There’s a $15 application process and it takes 4-6 weeks. Once you get your Cash Prepayment Identification Card, you’re all set! You can completely bypass their application process by setting up your travel package with a travel agent.
- Budget Rent a Car 800-527-0700
Call and check to with a representative if the Budget Rent a Car location where you are going will accept cash.
- Dollar Rent-A-Car 800-327-6707
Some accept cash and some don’t. Call and check.
- Hertz 800-654-3131
You can use a travel agent and bypass the need for a credit card. You can, also, apply for a Cash Deposit Identification Card which shows you pre-approved for cash. The application fee is $50.00.
- National Car Rental 800-227-7368
You can apply for a Cash Deposit Identification Card the cost is $50.00 which is non-refundable but will be applied to your deposit if accepted.
- Thrifty 800-367-2277
Some Thrifty locations accept cash pre-payment. You have to call and check.
Tip: Most Visa Credit Cards will include car insurance up to $25,000. Check with your lender.
How to rent a hotel room without a credit card
Renting a hotel if you don’t have a credit card is not impossible. The following information lists how and where it can be done:
- Hilton 800-445-8667: You can send a personal check for one night but it takes a week to clear. Then you can pay the balance with a personal check for the rest of the stay. Again, call.
- Choice Hotels International 800-228-1222: Choice Hotels, Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn. Rodeway Inn, Econolodge and Friendship. You can pay any hotel in the chain in your hometown and you’ll receive a voucher. Any, check it out.
- Holiday Inn 800-465-4329: You can pay with a money order or company check. You payment has to be received two days before you arrive.
- Hyatt 800-233-1234: You can guarantee your room by paying a deposit for the first night. You can use a personal check or company check. If you stay at a Hyatt at least once a year, you can join Hyatt’s Gold Passport program and guarantee your reservation without a CREDIT CARD OR DEPOSIT!! Call, 800-233-1234.
- Motel 6 505-891-6161: You can prepay with cash at a Motel 6 closest to you. If you send a personal check, it has to be 14 days before the visit. When you check in, you must pay any balance with cash or money order.
The Take Home
The bottom line is that your credit score can be approved. If you have patience, can follow direction and the will to succeed, your credit score can be improved within just a few years. There’s no reason to wait any longer to get the process started. If you require more assistance, or have further questions, you can call our office at 860-449-1510 and we’ll be happy to help you.