So, you spent the greater part of your 20’s being less than financially responsible and now you’re 30, and you want to get married and buy a house. However, your credit needs a little work before a lender can approve you for a loan. Well, we’ve got all the tips for rebuilding your credit in your 30’s and finding financial freedom.  

Check your credit score

First things first, you will need to see where you’re starting from by checking your credit score.  There are three main reporting bureaus in the United States used to collect, compete, update, and store credit histories- Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A FICO score is a three digit number ranging from 300-850, based on the reporting’s from the credit bureaus. 300-579 is very poor, 580-669 is fair, 670-739 is good, 740-799 is very good, and 800-850 is exceptional. Rip the Band-Aid off and check your credit score to see where you are at. Reviewing a detailed report of your history can aid you in making a plan of attack.  

checking credit score

Catch up on payments

If you have outstanding payments, now is the time to catch up on them. And while creditors may be offering you attractive settlement options, do your best not to take them and to pay the balances in full. Ask to set up a payment plan for the balance in full. A settlement will negatively affect your credit report and will stay on your report for 7 years, while a payment in full will be positively shown on your report for 10 years.  

Pay on time moving forward

Stay current with your payments from now on and start developing this habit. You don’t want to do anything else to hurt your credit and only want to take actions that will help rescue and aid your credit. So, set payment reminders in your phone and transfer the money automatically from your bank account. Then, you’ll have no more excuses for missing a payment.  

Keep balances low

Keep your current credit card account balances low or at a zero. Your credit utilization ratio should be under the suggested 30% when rebuilding your credit. The credit utilization ratio refers to total amount of credit available to you versus how much you are actually using. The lower your credit utilization ratio, the better. This means paying your statement in full each month or only leaving a small balance. No more maxing out your credit cards!

Avoid closing accounts

Whenever possible, avoid closing accounts, especially your oldest account on your credit report.  This can shorten your history and damage your credit history. If the credit issuer closes an account due to late payments and delinquency, this will remain on your credit report for seven years. You also want to keep enough accounts open so that your credit utilization ratio is below 30%. Be mindful of your open accounts and do not neglect them! This is the key to rebuilding your credit.

friends and family

Ask for help from friends and family

Enlisting the help from your friends and family can help boost your credit but you will need to act responsibly because you will be linked to their credit.  One option is becoming an authorized user on someone’s account and piggybacking off of their good credit. Make sure to check with the card issuer what will be reported to the credit bureaus before becoming an authorized user and be sure the primary account holder’s credit history is in good standing.  

Another option is to get a cosigner on a loan that you perhaps would get denied for on your own or would get approved for with very high interest rates or unfavorable terms.  Making monthly payments on time and in full will help build your credit.

Open a secured credit card

You can open a secured credit card. A credit card backed by a secured deposit you leave to open the account. There is typically a $200-$250 minimum deposit required to open the account. The deposit amount in which you leave is used as collateral to offer you a matching credit line. You are still expected to make monthly payments and there is interest on balances like any other credit card. The issuer regularly reports to the credit reporting agencies which can help improve your credit profile. After a set period of time, the issuer will reevaluate to see if you are eligible to transition to an unsecured account, and if so, you will be given your deposit back.    

Apply for a credit builder loan

A credit builder loan is designed to help people build their credit. You are not required to have good credit for approval, however, you are required to show proof of income to make payments.  The amount you borrow will be held in an account as collateral while you make payments. The loan is then repaid on a monthly basis. When the loan is completely paid off, the money is released to you. The bonus is you will have a nice chunk of change. Your on-time payments can have a big impact on your credit report. Your payments are reported to all three major credit bureaus.

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With time and diligence, everything can be rehabilitated. The more responsible you are, the better off you will be. Sign up for alerts on your credit report so you can closely monitor your progress and anything you will need to look out for. Use these tips as a guide to practice good financial habits to rebuilding your credit and before you know it, you will start to see improvements. It can take 60-90 days to see an increase on your credit report and up to 2 years to see a significant jump. So, stay focused and determined and your hard work will pay off!