Rebuilding credit is not an overnight process. You have to raise credit scores by proving that you’ve been financially responsible over a long period of time.

However, to start, you should review your credit reports to see if there is any erroneous data being recorded under your name. There may be an irresponsible individual with the same name. Or, the credit bureaus simply logged the wrong information. In any case, it is imperative to dispute these errors immediately. You might find that your credit score takes a significant jump after the errors are removed.

Then, think about how you’re going to get a credit account to your name.

Secured credit cards don’t require credit checks, but card issuers will ask for a cash deposit as collateral. You may also be asked to pay an annual fee and face higher-than-average APRs. Once you’ve established a fair credit rating, you can apply for a regular non-secured credit card.

If you don’t want a secured credit card, you can become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. As an authorized user, the card’s account information will also be recorded in your credit reports. Again, you can open your own credit card once your credit scores have improved to satisfactory levels.

Another way is to get someone to co-sign a loan, such as a student loan or car loan. However, many people are wary about co-signing loans, which means that it may be difficult to take this route.

When you begin your process of rebuilding credit, reduce the likelihood of late payments by setting up account alerts. Create ones that let you know when you bill is due and when you are reaching a high balance.

To make it even easier for yourself, opt to have your monthly balance paid off automatically.

Remember to use the credit-monitoring tools to see how much you’ve improved. Once your credit scores show financial responsibility, you’re ready to apply for a regular credit card or loan.

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