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I feel trapped: my credit score is low and i don’t know how to raise it!

By Terry Savage on November 09, 2022 | Credit/Debt

Hi Terry,

I’m 31, make 85k, and just moved back to the suburbs with my parents to save money after living in chicago for 10 years.

In my early 20’s, I opened up multiple credit cards and wasn’t smart about paying them off on time and it severely impacted my credit score (650). Currently, I don’t have any debt and since i live at home my expenses are close to none (phone bill, commuting, coffee, entertainment) but i’m struggling to seek out ways to rebuild my credit.

I’m writing you today to see if you can help navigate which credit card company(s) i should consider or any other steps I can take to raise my score. There are so many options but i fear without the right guidance, i’ll make a mistake and lower my score even further. I’m only looking to use the credit card to pay for my minimal expenses i have at the moment.

My goal is to save up 10K(currently at 5k after 2.5 months home) to move back in Chicago by April 2023 with a higher credit score to avoid issues when seeking out apartments to rent.

Looking forward to any advice!

Terry Says

You are SO smart! You have a great plan in place. And thanks to your parents for welcoming you back home. (I hope you shop for groceries or do the laundry to say thanks!!)

You are on the right track. Get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus by going to www.AnnualCreditReport.com You’re looking for any open credit cards that you might not be using. Cancel all but one immediately. Yes, it might ding your credit score for a while, but it’s worth it. Try to keep your oldest card, unless it has a high annual fee.

Then charge a small amount every month on that one card — and BE SURE TO PAY IT OFF IN FULL AND ON TIME EVERY MONTH! That will do more than anything else to rebuild your credit. It could take two or three years to get it back above 750 — but it will happen as the old stuff rolls off, and your new payment habits are reported.

You might have to live at home for longer than intended, but that will be rewarded. You will have a better chance at renting a good apartment if you have a high credit score. You can check it regularly without impacting your credit if you sign up at www.CreditKarma.com.

From what you’ve written, I’m sure you can do this on your own if you stick it out. But if you need help, contact that National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227. That will connect you to the nearest local office. There are no shortcuts. Please write back in two years and let me know your score!!

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