Is There Really Free Credit Repair?
Weighing the benefits of service versus cost.
Good credit repair helps maximize your credit scores by correcting damaging mistakes on your credit reports. But if money is already tight, is it really a good idea to incur another bill in order just to get a better score for lower interest? And is there any way to repair your credit for zero cost?
Credit repair that costs you absolutely, positively nothing is possible – although it may not be as effective as a paid service. Essentially, with credit repair, the more money you pay, the high level of service you’ll receive. It’s all about balancing how much you’re willing to pay against how much work you think you can do successfully on your own.
3 levels of service, 3 tiers for cost
There are three basic levels of service in credit repair:
- full-service (concierge) credit repair agency
- An online credit repair platform or out-of-the-box software
- 100% do-it-yourself credit repair
Basically, there is nothing that a professional service provider will do for you during the credit repair process that you couldn’t, in theory, do on your own. But the process is involved, complicated and can require specific actions in order to be successful. Even how you write a dispute letter can make or break your ability to get a mistake removed from your credit report.
But at a base level, you can do credit repair completely on your own. But even if you’re doing it yourself, there are still two ways you can incur some cost for credit repair:
- If you have already received copies of your credit report within the past year, then you will have to pay to receive additional copies. You are only allowed free reports once every twelve months.
- If you want confirmation that dispute letters were delivered on a specific date, it’s recommended to send your letters via certified mail. You will incur at least some cost for sending certified letters.
What you’ll pay for professional help
While relatively free credit repair is possible, that doesn’t mean that it will be easy or that you will be successful. Again, disputes have to be worded very specifically if you want to get mistakes removed. It can be extremely frustrating to find legitimate mistakes in your credit reports that you can’t get removed.
So with that in mind, professional assistance usually increases your chances for a successful outcome. But how much help do you need?
Any online platform or out-of-the-box software, will usually give you a step-by-step walk through of what to do. They should also give you templates for dispute letters (really, you shouldn’t pay for any service that doesn’t give you an extensive dispute template archive). These platforms usually have a one-time cost of anywhere from $100-$500.
On the other hand, a concierge credit repair service will usually have a monthly cost. It’s usually anywhere from $30-$100 per month. So in some cases, you could pay for a few months of a full service provider for the same cost as a software. A few months may be all you need to repair your credit effectively.
Fact: In general, the credit repair process usually takes about 3-6 months to correct mistakes in your reports.
Of course, you may need credit repair later down the road. If you paid a one-time cost for software, you can use it without incurring another bill. If you go with a concierge service, you’ll end up paying again. It’s up to you to decide what level of service is the best option in your situation.