How Much Does a Credit Repair Service Cost?
A lot of factors can affect your credit if proper care is not taken. However, if there is an issue with your credit, you need to do all you can to repair your credit. Some people have resorted to hiring credit repair services to assist even though these services are not free, your credit will be back in no time.
Repairing your credit doesn’t cost anything if you do it yourself. If you hire a credit repair company to assist you, however, you’ll have to pay fees, which can range widely. Before this can be done, you need to properly understand your credit. Let’s provide you with some insight.
- What Does Credit Repair Work?
- How Can a Credit Repair Company Help You?
- How Much Does a Credit Repair Service Cost?
- Can I Repair my Credit For Free?
- What Are The Best Credit Repair Companies?
- How Can I Identify Scam Credit Repair Companies?
- How Can I Choose The Right Credit Repair Company?
- How Can I Verify a Credit Repair Company?
What Does Credit Repair Work?
Credit repair is the process of removing unfavorable information from your credit reports, which can, in turn, raise your credit score.
The first step is to obtain your credit reports. By law, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once every 12 months. The official website for that purpose is AnnualCreditReport.com.
The next step is to review your credit reports carefully for inaccurate information, such as late or missing payments that you believe you made on time. You’ll also want to make sure that there are no accounts listed on your credit reports that you don’t recognize. If there are, that may be a sign that an identity thief has opened credit accounts in your name.
If the information in a credit report is accurate, there is nothing you can do to change it. You simply have to wait until the information is old enough to fall off your report. That’s generally seven years. In the case of bankruptcy, the period is 10 years, and there’s no time limit for “information about criminal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
In the meantime, you can improve your credit going forward by practicing good credit habits, such as paying your bills on time and keeping a low credit utilization ratio.
However, if you discover inaccurate information, you have a right to challenge it, and the credit bureau is legally required to investigate. If the bureau decides you’re right, it will strike that information from your credit report. All three of the major credit bureaus’ websites describe the steps you’ll need to take and provide online forms you can use to get started. Some identity theft protection services can handle this process on your behalf.
You can either handle the credit repair process by yourself or hire a professional credit repair company to guide you through it. As the Federal Trade Commission explains, there is nothing that a credit repair company can do for you that you can’t do for yourself. The reason you might want to hire one is if you don’t feel comfortable with the process or don’t want to devote as much of your time to follow it through to the end.
How Can a Credit Repair Company Help You?
A credit repair company doesn’t do everything for you. Its primary role is to advise you on the credit repair process and provide ongoing support as you dispute inaccurate information. Some also offer a package of related services, such as credit monitoring.
While some credit repair companies are national, others operate only in certain states. For example, as Investopedia’s report on the Six Best Credit Repair Companies of 2020 noted, the Credit Pros does not provide service in Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, or Oregon.
Each company has its own pricing structure. In general, the companies bundle their services into packages and charge monthly fees. Prices range from $19 to $149 per month, depending on the services you sign up for. There may also be set-up or enrollment fees, as well as cancellation fees. Some, but not all, companies offer a money-back guarantee.
Once you sign up with a credit repair company, it may be several months before you see results. It usually takes up to six months, or longer, for your credit to be totally repaired. What’s more, errors that have been corrected may reappear on your credit report for various reasons, so you should check your reports periodically even if you believe they have been fixed and challenge that information again.
How Much Does a Credit Repair Service Cost?
Unlike what the name suggests, you’re not able to just pay money for a good credit score. That’s because credit repair companies can only help to remove errors; they can’t remove information that’s damaging but correct.
For example, if you’ve made several late payments, defaulted, have a large credit card balance relative to your total credit limit, or other common negative marks, and it’s accurate, there is nothing credit repair companies can do.
Credit repair services generally charge in one of two ways, depending on the company. Some companies offer a pay-per-delete model where they charge for each error they’re able to remove from your credit report.
More commonly though, credit repair companies use a subscription-based model, which ranges from $50-$150 per month, depending on the specific package. You may also need to pay a startup fee (sometimes called a first-work fee), which can be the same price as a full-month subscription.
Most companies have ways to get you to stay signed up for several months. Some companies limit the number of deletes they’ll help you with each month, forcing you to stay signed up for longer if you have several errors. Other companies offer credit score updates, and because it can take a few months for your score to update, they advise you to stay signed up—all the while paying monthly fees—until you see the changes reflect on your credit report.
Either way, it’s an expensive route to go. If you need to pay a $100 first-work fee plus six months of credit repair services at $100 per month, you’re looking at spending $700 for something you could do on your own.
Can I Repair my Credit For Free?
Believe it or not, you can repair your own credit for free, and you don’t need to pay anyone to do it. Follow these five steps to do so:
1. Request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
2. Review each page and highlight any errors you see.
3. Write a dispute letter to each credit bureau for each of the mistakes you see.
4. Wait for a response from the credit bureau about its decision.
5. Check your credit score in another month or two to see if it’s changed (not all errors will affect your credit score).
If you truly are confused about your credit situation, consider working with a nonprofit credit counselor who can help you get back on your feet for a reasonable price. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a great place to find a reputable credit counselor.
What Are The Best Credit Repair Companies?
The best credit repair companies are reliable, effective, and have good customer service. You may have negative marks on your credit reports from late payments, maxing out credit cards, or debt in collections, all of which may hurt your creditworthiness. If you don’t have the time or desire to fix these credit report blemishes, you can pay someone else to do the work for you.
1. Credit Saint
Credit Saint is our pick for Best Overall because of its clear pricing policies and an array of affordable and comprehensive package options.
The packages — which range from $79.99 to $119.99 — differ in how many claims they’ll dispute a month, from five claims with the basic “Credit Polish” plan to an unlimited amount with the premium “Clean Slate” plan.
Credit Saint offers a free consultation to evaluate your particular situation, and your credit scores from the three major bureaus and to identify the next steps you should take. Once you sign up with them, the company assigns an advisory team to your case and schedules calls to keep you informed.
Credit Saint also gives you access to a credit score tracker and monitors changes in your Experian report. Additionally, it has a 90-day money-back guarantee if you don’t see any changes in your credit history after three months.
The company offers three credit repair packages: Credit Polish, Credit Remodel, and Clean Slate.
2. Lexington Law
Lexington Law is well-known in the credit repair industry, with more than 17 years in the business and almost nationwide availability (every state except Oregon).
Because it’s a law firm and its staff is mostly attorneys and paralegals, the company is said to explore every legal avenue to correct inaccuracies in your credit report. Its account reps — often paralegals — offer personalized support over extended hours, seven days a week.
The company offers three service packages which range from $95.85 to $139.95 per month, each including credit disputes and creditor interventions — such as goodwill letters and debt validation letters. Its mid- and high-tier plans include additional perks like Transunion credit monitoring, identity monitoring, and/or a FICO score tracker.
If you want to track your credit progress, Lexington has a highly ranked mobile app where users have 24/7 access to their credit score analysis, personalized counseling plan, and dispute updates.
However, Lexington has also had its share of legal problems. It’s the subject of several lawsuits, including legal action filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2019, which alleges that the company used unfair telemarketing practices to recruit customers. The company claims that the practices were actually carried out by third parties they contracted.
Despite this, Lexington Law remains a powerful player in the industry and offers the advantage of having an experienced law firm handling your case.
3. Sky Blue Credit Repair
Several credit repair agencies offer a 90-day money-back guarantee which promises to refund your money if they don’t remove any negative items from your credit report in that time period. Sky Blue Credit Repair offers a 90-day refund policy as well, but goes one step further — it also lets you pause and resume your membership whenever you like, a feature not available with most other companies.
If you want to skip a month of service without canceling your subscription, you can request a pause online. You won’t get charged monthly payments while your account is paused and you can resume the subscription when needed. This could save you some money on startup fees, which most credit repair companies charge whenever you start using services.
Sky Blue offers one plan for $79 a month for individuals and $119 a month for couples (both married or unmarried partners).
Like some competitors, Sky Blue not only helps you remove inaccurate information from your credit report, but you’ll also get advice on managing existing debt and improving your financial habits.
Sky Blue is no longer registered with the Better Business Bureau (companies have to pay annual fees to stay accredited). However, it boasted an A+ rating when it was and consumer comments were largely positive.
4. The Credit People
Most credit repair companies offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. Others only refund you for the last month of service. The Credit People, on the other hand, lets you cancel your subscription whenever you want, and refunds both the last and previous month’s payment.
The company’s low startup fees set it apart from competitors. While other credit repair services charge around $79 or more to set up your account and pull your credit report, The Credit People only charges $19. After your account is ready, you can either pay $79 a month until you get the result you want or pay a flat fee of $419 for a six-month plan.
The Credit People’s interface is also a plus — you can monitor updates to your credit report or score from all three credit bureaus from their easy-to-use online dashboard. It also lets you track open disputes and connect to customer service in case you have any questions.
5. Ovation Credit Repair
Ovation Credit Repair stands out when it comes to discounts. It offers a 20% discount for couples and a 10% discount for seniors and military members. It also provides a one-time credit of up to $50 if you switch from another credit repair agency or refer a friend.
The company offers two credit repair packages: the Essential and Essential Plus. With the Essential plan, a case advisor will guide you through the dispute process and advise you on improving your overall credit situation. You’ll also get access to financial tools for budgeting and building a debt repayment plan.
The Essential Plus plan offers additional benefits like Transunion credit report monitoring and unlimited debt validation letters, which ask collectors to verify the accuracy of reported debt. This is an important step because, if a collector doesn’t have enough documentation to prove the account in question belongs to you, the bureaus might remove it from your report.
How Can I Identify Scam Credit Repair Companies?
While there are legitimate credit repair companies, the field is also fertile territory for scam artists. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a list of red flags to watch out for.
- Pressuring you to pay upfront. Some legitimate companies do require set-up or enrollment fees, but in general, forcing you to pay before any services have been performed is illegal, under the federal Credit Repair Organizations Act.
- Promises to get rid of any negative information on your credit report. Remember, the only information that is in error can be removed from your credit report. No one can get accurate information removed.
- Tells you not to contact credit bureaus. Disputing inaccurate information with the credit bureau that reported it is one of the essential steps to repairing your credit. When a so-called credit repair company recommends otherwise, it is hiding something.
How Can I Choose The Right Credit Repair Company?
When evaluating credit repair companies, you should compare the services they offer and their upfront and monthly fees. Consider how many items they dispute per month and if they offer any additional perks such as free consultations or personal finance tools. You can also gauge a company’s reputation by reading online consumer reviews and checking whether it has any lawsuits against it.
Check for Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) compliance
CROA establishes clear directives that legitimate credit repair agencies should follow, and it’s important to ensure the company you choose is compliant in every step of the process.
Companies must provide a written contract explaining in detail the services they will provide, how long it will take for them to get results, any guarantees they offer, and the total credit repair cost for their services.
You have the right to walk away without penalty within three days of signing the contract if it doesn’t meet your requirements.
Read customer reviews
Sources like Google Reviews, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and Yelp are useful starting points for gauging customer experience. They each have their own way of evaluating and ranking companies — for example, the BBB uses an A to F grading system and Yelp offers its well-known star ratings.
These websites are helpful, but we recommend complementing what you read with further research — after all, most people post reviews when they’re unhappy with a service, not when they’re satisfied.
However, if you read multiple reviews alleging similar types of issues, you should certainly consider it a red flag.
In our search for the best credit restoration services, we focused on those that received mostly positive consumer feedback across multiple review websites.
Check the regulatory agencies
The credit repair industry is tightly regulated and must abide by the provisions of multiple federal laws aimed at the protection of consumers.
One of the agencies overseeing the industry is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal organization that protects consumers from fraudulent or predatory practices by banks, lenders, or any type of financial institution — including credit repair companies.
When searching for the right credit repair company for you, it’s a good idea to check the CFPB complaint database and check how many complaints — if any — have been filed against it.
Compare fees and turnaround times
Reputable credit repair companies will list their prices and services clearly, so consumers can select the right package for their needs. Turnaround time should be reasonable, and the company must keep you updated about the progress.
Look for personal finance tools
Besides their standard credit repair services, some credit repair agencies offer personal finance tools like bill reminders, budgeting software, and credit monitoring. Additionally, they may offer free credit consultations, satisfaction guarantees, and identity theft protection services.
How Can I Verify a Credit Repair Company?
Unfortunately, fraud is common in the credit repair industry. Before signing up with a credit repair company, you should always do your homework.
Start by making a list of established companies. Search for complaints in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database. After narrowing down your list, you can interview each company before making a decision.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several signs of fraud to watch for:
- Asks for large amounts of money upfront
- Discourages you from contacting the credit reporting agencies yourself
- Says to dispute correct items on your credit reports
- Encourages false information on credit or loan applications
- Skips over your legal rights when explaining the company’s services
The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) says you have the right to cancel a contract within three days of signing for any reason.1 If you have trouble with a credit repair company, you can report the issue to your state attorney general or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
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In a recent interview with Steve Weisman, an accomplished lawyer and senior lecturer on law and taxation at Bentley University, he explained that “The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) requires credit repair companies to provide you with a written contract that details the services they will perform for you and explain your rights under the law, notify you of a three day right to cancel your contract with the credit repair company, inform you of how long it will take to perform their services and explain in detail the total cost to you.”
Repairing your credit doesn’t have to cost you anything. You can handle the process yourself by following the step-by-step instructions on the three major credit bureaus’ websites. If you want help, you can hire a credit repair company to assist you. They generally charge anywhere from $19 to $149 a month for their services. But beware of scam credit repair offers, which may leave you in worse financial shape than before.