Do you need to resuscitate your credit score? Doing it yourself will require a lot of time, patience, and determination.
You’ll get accustomed to having awkward phone conversations with debtors on your lunch break every day, and the three credit reporting bureaus will always appear near the top of your phone’s contact list.
You’ll find yourself on the phone with creditors at work, after work, on the weekends, and even in your sleep.
It’s no wonder people pay credit repair companies hundreds of dollars for a shortcut.
But not all credit repair companies are created equally. Credit repair companies use different price structures and employ unique repair strategies.
So before signing up with a credit repair company, do your homework.
Best Credit Repair Companies for 2020
Before we go any further, let’s talk about the best companies out there for someone who needs expert help breathing new life into a stale credit score.
We recommend the following companies:
- Credit Saint
- Sky Blue
- Lexington Law
- The Credit People
- Pyramid Credit Repair
- The Credit Pros
- Pinnacle Credit Repair
- Ovation Credit Repair
With an A+ from the BBB and consistently high customer reviews, Credit Saint should be on your radar as well.
The New Jersey-based company comes with monthly packages ranging from $79 to $119.99 and “first work fees” between $99 and $195.
Credit Saints programs are most aggressive in the industry. their middle program remodel releases more challenges per cycle than Lex Laws top program.
If you don’t see any changes made in the first 90 days you get a full refund.
Credit Saint offers users a personal advisory team dedicated to their case, informative online resources, and a timeline and progress report to help you track the company’s work on your credit.
You’ll also get regular calls from your team to keep you in the loop and on track for success.
Very few companies will let you know if you don’t really need help from a credit repair company. Sky Blue has a reputation as an exception to this rule.
Sky Blue’s customer care staff offers free consultations which really have no strings attached.
Sky Blue will also coach you on the little things you could be doing to keep your credit score in better shape. Sky Blue’s suggestions tend to be well-balanced and tailored specifically to your situation, unlike some companies that simply send out blanket suggestions.
When you’re paying Sky Blue’s price of about $80 a month, you’ll appreciate the agency’s speed, too. The company gets to work within 48 hours and typically turns out at least five disputes per cycle (each cycle is 35 days) on your behalf.
It’s not a household name outside the credit repair business, but Lexington Law has been a leader in the industry for nearly three decades.
It’s tough having the same conversations over and over with different people, especially about sensitive things like your past financial mistakes. With your own personalized rep, you can save time and focus more on the little things that can make a big difference.
Typically, you can make appointments with your rep beyond normal business hours, which can be helpful if you’re trying to avoid awkward conversations on your at-work phone line.
Lexington Law won’t offer the lowest prices with a base price of around $90 a month as of this writing. And the company doesn’t always get unanimous praise in customer reviews, but it has a C rating with the Better Business Bureau.
The basic plan should be enough for most customers, but you can get even more support by paying more, including cease and desist letters and personal finance tools which you can also find elsewhere for free.
All in all, most customers find Lexington Law’s staff to be knowledgeable and helpful partners as they seek to rebuild their credit.
You won’t find a simpler and more straightforward name for a credit repair website than CreditRepair.com.
Ironically, the company’s services follow the same no-nonsense logic as they seek to guide you out of credit purgatory.
CreditRepair.com has boiled its process down to three steps:
- Check: The company’s reps will look over your credit reports from the three bureaus to find inaccurate information or derogatory marks that could be in dispute.
- Challenge: The company will send letters challenging disputable issues in your reports.
- Change: CreditRepair.com will follow up to make sure your reports get changed and repeat the “Challenge” step if necessary.
As you can tell, a service this simple works best when you have a simple case of inaccurate data being reported to the credit bureaus. CreditRepair.com can be relentless as it seeks to resolve erroneous data.
And you can follow the company’s progress in your account online. The company tends to boast about concrete success rates, but the language is just soft enough to stop short of a guarantee.
For example, the company might say customers average a 30-point increase on their credit scores after four months. Before signing up, keep in mind you aren’t being guaranteed these results.
CreditRepair.com costs about $100 a month as of this writing.
The Credit People
Someone looking for a solid option at a lower price might like The Credit People, another newer provider in the market.
Someone who wants to try out a service without making a big commitment will really like The Credit People.
For $19 you can try the service for seven days to see whether you’d like to stick with it (though you shouldn’t expect to see credit score improvements within a week).
If you do stay on board, The Credit People offers a money-back guarantee that you’ll see at least some positive results within 60 days.
You probably won’t reach your target credit score within 60 days, but The Credit People thinks you’ll like the way things are going.
The Credit People offers other price point innovations such as a flat rate of about $420 to access all of its services indefinitely rather than paying month by month.
Usually, you need about six months with a company to optimize results. Assuming you need help for six months, the $420 flat rate would amount to $70 a month which is less than most of The Credit People’s reputable competitors.
If you’d prefer a month-by-month fee, The Credit People charges $79 a month. (Unfortunately, you can’t opt for the flat rate if you start with the seven-day trial for $19.)
The Credit People offers customer care only during business hours (in the Central time zone). While it does solid work, the company doesn’t offer a lot of the bells and whistles such as identity theft protection that its competitors offer.
Pyramid is another credit repair service that vows to put in the work to improve your credit score. Once you sign up, the company gives your case to a live personal account manager who you can access via phone, text, or email.
This account manager will provide customized disputes to the credit bureaus and your creditors, updating you along the way.
You’ll also get access to the online dashboard, where you’ll find resources and real-time updates on your credit progress.
Pyramid Credit Repair comes with two services: Singles and Couples. Both come with a free assessment, after which you can opt for coverage at $99 a month for singles and $198 a month for couples.
If you enroll in the couples plan, you could get 50% off of your first month of service. Both plans come with a 100% money back guarantee, pay-as-you-go services, and credit reports from all three bureaus.
Creditfirm.net could give you the best bang for your buck if you’re looking for a less expensive credit repair service.
The company offers one flat, pay-as-you-go package at $49.99 a month.
That monthly fee gives you access to a thorough audit of your credit report by legal experts, limitless credit bureau and inquiry challenges, and more.
They also provide defense against collection agencies.
The company touts an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, suggesting boosting its credibility in the industry.
Creditfirm.net is also known for its speed, reviewing clients’ documents within 5 days on average.
The Credit Pros
The Credit Pros provides you with one-one access to a certified FICO professional who works with you to create an action plan to repair your credit.
In addition to the standard features of most credit repair companies, the Credit Pros offer Identity theft restoration, and write cease and desist letters to your creditors, as well as goodwill letters to creditors and debt validation letters.
The company appeals to applicants with a 90-second registration process, which you can walk through on their user-friendly site, one that comes with a blog chocked full of resources on improving and maintaining good credit.
You can also access your client portal there, with live updates on your credit and changes to your case.
The Credit Pros comes with a basic package, CreditSentry Monitoring, at $19 a month, This package.
For its comprehensive services, you’ll want to consider the MoneyManagement package at $69 a month, the Prosperity Package at $119 a month, or the Success Package at $149 a month.
Each of these packages comes with a unique set of benefits, like budgeting tools, payment reminders, prescription discounts, and store lines of credit.
Pinnacle Credit Repair Management
This BBB accredited business, highly reviewed on TrustPilot, promises faster credit repair thanks to their use of AI technology.
They also partner with top private lenders to get you approved and on your way to funding as quickly as possible.
When you sign up for Pinnacle’s services, you additionally get a credit mentor who will coach you through the process of improving your credit.
You also get access to a blog and a series of educational videos to teach you how to manage your credit successfully.
Pinnacle offers a free credit consultation, after which you can choose between the Standard and Fast Track Program.
The Standard Program is $99 with a first-time work fee of $199. The Fast Track Program costs between $1500 and $2500.
The Fast Track Program is expensive, but it gets an average of 80% of negative counts removed from credit profiles in the first 2 weeks.
Like Lexington Law, Ovation Credit builds a personal connection with its clients and the company customizes its strategies based on your individual needs.
One of the primary reasons for ranking Ovation Credit on this list is its same-day service option. Most industry leaders need at least two days to get your case up and running.
Ovation can respond quickly, and it has customer service staff on duty 24/7. But you also pay more upfront.
Customers usually need to pay about $89 the first month, and then depending on the plan you choose, between $79 – $109 per month.
Finally, the company’s positive reviews on the Better Business Bureau leave a good impression.
Honorable Mention Credit Repair Companies
DIY or Fee-based Credit Repair?
Here’s the first question to ask yourself: Do you need help from a credit repair company OR do you feel that you can DIY your credit repair?
Modern consumer protection laws, combined with the ease of accessing data on your smartphone, give you access to your credit score relatively quickly and easily.
With an app like Credit Sesame, for example, you can see your up-to-date credit score anytime for free. You can also see the components of your score so you can better determine its accuracy.
If you see an inaccurate 90-days-late note on your student loan, for example, you can call your lender to get the situation squared away, then follow up with the credit reporting agencies to make sure the bad mark gets removed from your record.
In short, your score need not be a mystery, and you shouldn’t need inside information to fix a problem.
Why You Should Work With a Credit Repair Company
But when you have a job, a family, and other responsibilities, it can be challenging. You may not have the time to spend on the phone leaving voicemails for credit managers and following up with all three credit reporting bureaus.
You may find it worthwhile to pay $50 to $150 a month for someone else to do all this legwork, especially if you have several credit issues to resolve.
If you have a complex situation and your score is in desperate need of help, a good credit repair company could be just what you need.
How Credit Repair Companies Work
Like any other professional service, credit repair is a specialization.
Sure, you could probably figure out how to install a toilet or how to fix the frayed power cord on your vacuum. But you could also save a lot of time by hiring a professional to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
You may even save money if you do something wrong and have to hire professional help to fix the mess anyway.
Credit repair works the same way. Legal experts at credit repair companies spend all day every day negotiating with creditors and seeking resolutions to mistakes.
They know what to ask for and how to make sure your records get updated. They don’t get distracted by their careers, their kids, their pets, or their sinks full of dishes the way we can.
These little distractions can keep us from following up with a creditor and making sure they fixed an error. Left uncorrected, these errors seem to multiply. The credit damage they do can cost a fortune in higher interest rates on a future loan.
They can also make us ineligible for borrowing when we most need it, like in an emergency or to execute a well-timed purchase.
Sometimes, we just need to call in the pros.
What Credit Repair Companies Do
A credit repair company should start its work by determining exactly where to start helping you. Doing this typically requires a copy of each of your credit reports — TransUnion, Experian5 and Equifax.
The company should identify the problems causing the most damage to your score. Typical problems arise from:
- Bankruptcies: Declaring bankruptcy can resolve short-term problems while also creating long-term credit issues.
- Tax liens: Whether local, state, or federal, a tax lien from the government can shave a huge chunk off your credit score for the foreseeable future.
- Charge-offs: If a creditor has given up on collecting a debt from you and charged-off the debt, you can expect credit trouble for years without intervention.
The existence of these and other derogatory marks on your credit reports doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve experienced these problems. Sometimes simple reporting errors can turn into charge-offs. Other times a tax lien may have been resolved in reality but not reported as resolved to one of the three credit agencies.
Your credit repair company should seek the quickest and easiest solutions to these problems. If some or all of your credit issues result from a reporting error, expect your repair company to start there and to make noticeable progress.
Sometimes you can even improve your credit score by applying for more credit, and your repair company may recommend this strategy.
But this approach can cause future problems if you actually use the newly available credit, so you have to exercise restraint.
Regardless of which strategy your company suggests, make sure you’re monitoring the company’s progress, and make sure you understand what’s going on by asking questions.
With a rundown of what the best credit repair companies have to offer, here’s a look at some common questions surrounding credit repair.
How Long Does it Take to Fix Your Credit?
Your credit score can literally be impacted overnight, one late payment could drop your score up to 100 points. On the other hand, you can spend months working on your score before seeing improvements, maintaining a high credit score can be very delicate.
Expect to wait for at least 45-days for your credit repair company to be able to make even one change. Waiting two to three months isn’t unusual. For more complicated problems, your company may need six months to a year to make progress.
Even when you’re hiring professional help, it’s important to understand credit repair is a long-term project that you never fully complete. Even when your score is back where you need it to be, you’ll want to keep a regular watch to detect reporting errors before they cause more damage.
How Much Will You Pay for Credit Repair?
Different repair companies charge different rates, as you can see above.
On average, you should expect to pay in the neighborhood of $75 to $150 a month to get a quality company on your case.
Some companies charge a flat rate while others employ a results-based approach in which you’d pay for each derogatory remark that’s removed from your record.
Your specific needs should guide you here. If you have a dozen or so small problems to resolve, a flat rate could save you money. If you’re concerned about just a couple issues, you may prefer a company with a results-based pricing plan.
Though credit problems are common, your exact mix of credit problems is unique to you. Give your company time to find the right solutions to your problems.
Do Credit Repair Companies Guarantee Results?
We all like guarantees, especially with something as important as credit repair. But credit reporting — though it has grown more transparent — still involves a lot of nuance. Guaranteeing 100 percent satisfaction simply isn’t possible.
That being said, you should be able to find a company to guarantee at least some improvement. Some even offer a money-back guarantee if they can’t steer your score in the right direction.
This may be as close as you can get to an actual guarantee of results from a credit repair company, credit repair software, or even a do-it-yourself approach.
In fact, if you see a company guaranteeing specific results such as a 100-point swing in your credit score, you may have found a bonafide scam, which we’ll get into next.
Tips for Working With Credit Repair Companies
How to Spot a Credit Repair Scam
In many ways, our credit scores reflect our financial identity. With a low score, you’ll struggle to buy a house or a car. You may even have to pay higher car insurance rates.
Trying to fix something as important as your credit score can leave you vulnerable to companies making grand promises they can’t keep.
Other companies, of course, exist simply to convince consumers to hand over their credit card and Social Security numbers with no intention of ever helping.
It’s easy enough to spot these outright scams and to choose a legitimate credit repair company. Just look for tell-tale signs like:
- Poorly Designed Websites: You may also notice unsecure servers (http:// instead of https:// in the URL).
- Strange Email Addresses: Email domain names that don’t match the website’s domain name or personal addresses like @hotmail, @yahoo, or @gmail should raise flags.
- Bad Third-party Reviews: Always check Better Business Bureau or TrustPilot for reviews, or just do a Google search if you’re suspicious of a company.
- Up-front Payments: Though it’s not always a scam, a site asking for payment before doing any work should make you suspicious.
It’s more difficult to detect a genuine credit repair company that simply can’t deliver on its promises. Be wary of firms that:
- Guarantee Specific Results: A money-back guarantee is one thing, but if a company says it can raise your score by 100 points or deliver overnight results, be wary.
- Prohibit Contact: If a company asks (or demands) that you don’t contact credit reporting bureaus or creditors yourself, stay away. You should always have the freedom to intercede on your own behalf.
- Rely Heavily on New Credit: While opening more accounts can improve your credit score, you’ll also take a hit on the inquiries which result from your applications. Over-relying on this tactic can backfire.
- Sell You Cards: A credit repair company that immediately suggests you open specific credit cards may be more interested in making commissions off your account than repairing your credit.
- Boast Inside Knowledge: Yes, credit repair companies specialize in credit repair, but they should do so by offering persistence and efficiency, not secrets no one else knows. A company with a secret formula may not be for real.
If you come across a company you’re wary of, you can report it here to help prevent future consumers from falling for the act.
The top companies listed above come with solid reputations and reviews.
Combine DIY and Fee-Based Approaches
Federal law guarantees you at least one free copy of your credit report from each of the leading three credit bureaus each year. If you’d like to see what you’re working with before committing to $100 or so a month, you can request your reports here.
The best approach, though, may be a mixture of DIY credit repair and professional help. You can get started with your own assessment of your credit picture then bring in help from one of the leading credit repair agencies.
This way you’re more of a participant in the process, and you’ll be the expert on your own credit situation before talking with customer service reps from the repair agency of your choice.
Then, as you track the progress your credit repair company is making, you’ll be a full partner in the process. Even if you can’t check in every day, you can track the trends in your score by checking in once a week or once every couple of weeks.
This approach can also get you into the habit of monitoring your score on a regular basis so you can detect errors quickly in the future.
What a Credit Repair Company Won’t Do
Many people think credit repair companies can undo whatever damage you’ve done to your credit score. This isn’t true.
You should help yourself by doing what you can to improve your score (or you can at least stop making things worse). Be sure you’re:
- Paying Bills on Time: We all get a little behind sometimes but don’t let any bill get beyond 15 days late. Shoot for paying bills early.
- Limiting Inquiries: The more loans you try to open — even if you’re just co-signing for an adult child or a friend — the more trauma your score will experience.
- Acknowledging Past Mistakes: Ignoring old mistakes even when you can’t afford to pay off the debts will serve as dead weight on your credit report and complicate efforts to restore your score.
- Avoiding Over-activity: It’s human nature to close pesky accounts once they’re paid off. But part of your credit score is derived from available credit meaning you can benefit by keeping a few paid-off accounts open.
While credit repair companies excel at disputing problems on your score, they shouldn’t — and the best services won’t — dispute aspects of your score which are absolutely true such as a recent string of 30- or 60-day late payments.
However, if years-old credit issues still haunt your report, your credit repair agency may be able to help persuade the credit bureaus to pay more attention to your recent successes and scratch old problems off your list sooner.
Alternatives to Credit Repair Companies
Although a good credit score can save you hundreds — and even thousands — of dollars in interest charges, some people simply don’t like the idea of partnering with a for-profit company and paying $75 or $125 a month.
The same people may not have time for an all-out DIY credit CPR project. They want an in-between option.
Credit Repair Software
Credit repair software offers such an in-between solution. You can spend about $400 to $600 on software, and the program you choose may promise results.
What software actually delivers is a tool set to help you launch your DIY credit repair project. You’ll get templates for letters to creditors and the bureaus. You’ll get contact information for credit reporting bureaus, and suggestions for how often to follow up.
What won’t you get? Any of the legwork that actually saves you time. I’ve said it before: I’d rather pay someone to do the legwork than pay someone to tell me how to do it.
You’ve probably heard radio ads for credit counselors who can help you find the light at the end of the tunnel.
You can find some quality help for free from non-profit credit counseling organizations, but you can also fall into a scam or even a den of identity thieves if you aren’t careful.
Be sure you’re working with an organization accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
A good credit counselor should review your free credit reports with you and then come up with a plan. But don’t expect the same level of care you can find from a paid credit repair service.
If a non-profit credit counseling agency starts to pressure you into taking the next step or providing personal financial data, don’t be afraid to step back or terminate the relationship.
You may be able to save money each month by consolidating some of your high-interest debt into a lower-interest loan, but you shouldn’t confuse these programs with credit repair services.
Eventually, consolidating your debt may lead to a better credit score, but the main goal of these loans is to better manage your debt.
In fact, you could see a credit score hit if you close several accounts at once.
I read a lot of financial blogs and often see advice about negotiating with credit card companies or other debt collectors.
While you can talk a credit manager into deleting some late fees or rolling back some punitive interest rate increases, these settlements may end up hurting your credit score.
Make sure your credit card company isn’t reporting your negotiated debt as a charge-off to the credit bureaus, especially if you’re spending a lot of money paying off a lump-sum debt settlement.
Get the settlement — and its implications on your credit score — in writing before paying it off.
The Verdict: You Get What You Pay For
When your credit score needs new life and you don’t have the time or energy to figure it out for yourself, you can find quality help from a credit repair company.
You’ll have to share some personal information, and you may wind up paying $600 to $800 over the course of six to eight months. But you can see these payments as an investment in your future.
By repairing your credit quickly and efficiently, you’ll be positioning yourself to get better loan terms on big purchases in the future which can create savings for decades.
If you can fix your credit score without paying fees you should do so. But if you need help, you shouldn’t hesitate to call in one of the pros listed here.