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It’s extremely common to have mistakes on your credit report — what’s more, these mistakes can drag down your score and end up costing you money.
A recent study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealed that approximately 5% of consumers had errors on their report. Out of those surveyed, more than one in 10 saw their credit scores improve by up to 100 points after those errors were corrected.
However, it’s not always easy to spot these inaccuracies, especially if you’re not familiar with what a credit report looks like, or how to read it. That’s when a credit repair company can come in handy.
What Exactly Do Credit Repair Companies Do?
A credit repair company is an entity that specializes in finding and disputing mistakes on your credit report. In exchange for their services, these companies generally charge you a monthly fee ranging from $79 to $120. When your credit score has been improved to your satisfaction, you can discontinue the service.
Things You Should Know Before You Pay for a Credit Repair Company
- You could save money. As previously stated, credit repair companies challenge errors on your credit report, which can result in an improved credit score. A higher credit score could secure you a better interest rate on any loans or credit cards you apply for in the future, saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run.
- It’ll take time. Although some companies may offer shorter turnarounds, on average, credit repairs can take from three months to a year, depending on the complexity of your situation.
- Not everything can be removed. Credit bureaus are very specific about the information that can be deleted from a report, like late or missed payments, charge-offs, and collections, just to name a few. Still, you must remember that these marks can only be removed if they can be verified as inaccurate.
- You have to do some of the legwork. While credit repair companies will send all of the necessary paperwork for you and deal with both creditors and credit bureaus, you still have to provide them with some information about the accounts and evidence, in order for them to dispute any errors.
- Most companies have setup fees. By law, credit repair companies can’t charge in advance for any services they haven’t provided, but most of them do charge a setup fee. A setup fee is a one-time fee charged for opening the account, and typically ranges from $15 to $200, depending on the company.
The Best Credit Repair Companies of 2020
The companies listed below offer reasonable turnarounds, competitive prices, satisfaction guarantees, and a variety of complimentary credit monitoring services, to help you move forward.
Additionally, these companies are transparent about the things that can be removed from your report—and, most importantly, have a solid reputation among consumers. To us, those were crucial factors to select our top picks, as credit repair companies have gotten a bad rap over the years for not delivering their promises.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Chairman of Debt.com, says that although you should be cautious, you can’t believe all the bad propaganda that’s out there. “Yes, there are a few companies that are bad, but you can’t just paint the entire industry with one paintbrush,” he says. “Some are very good and they do the right things.”
Before hiring a credit repair company, make sure you understand what can and can’t be removed from your report, to determine whether this is the best option for you.
Best Credit Repair Company Reviews
Credit Saint Review
Monthly fee: $79.99 – $119.99
Credit Saint has been an industry leader for over 15 years. The company holds an excellent A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and offers three credit repair packages: Credit Polish, Credit Remodel, and Clean Slate, all of which range in aggressiveness.
The company’s most basic plan is its Credit Polish package. This plan allows you to dispute up to 5 inaccuracies per monthly cycle, including late payments, transactions related to identity thefts, account charge-offs, and collections.
With the Credit Remodel package you get everything included in the Credit Polish plan, in addition to 5 more disputes per month, escalated information requests, and disputes for additional items, like bankruptcies and repossessions.
The Clean Slate is the company’s most comprehensive credit repair package, featuring everything that’s offered in its two other plans, plus access to disputing judgments. The best thing about the Clean Slate package is that there are no restrictions on the number of disputes you’re allowed to file per month, which speeds up the credit repair process.
Something we liked about Credit Saint is that when you subscribe to any of its credit repair packages, the company assigns a specialized advisory team to monitor your case closely and schedule calls periodically to keep you informed and answer any questions you may have.
You can cancel the company’s services at any time, and there’s a 90-day money back guarantee if you don’t see any changes in your credit history after three months.
Sky Blue Credit Review
Monthly fee: $79 – $119
Sky Blue Credit has a simple pricing model that allows you to take advantage of all of the company’s services for just $79 a month, or $119 a month for couples (both married or unmarried partners).
Sky Blue’s essential credit repair plans include an initial analysis of disputable items, in which an expert evaluates your credit report line by line and identifies potential errors for you to review. Once you’ve reviewed the initial report and confirm that it is accurate, they check which items could have the most potential impact on your credit, and prioritize those.
According to the company, each credit repair process takes approximately 6 months to complete and you may cancel at any time without incurring any penalties. Sky Blue also offers a 90-day money back guarantee if you’re unable to see any improvements after the first three months of subscribing to its services.
With Sky Blue’s plans you can dispute up to 15 items per each 35-day cycle (5 per bureau), and have access to debt negotiation consultants at no additional cost. The company also offers credit score assistance and rebuilding programs that help you identify gaps in your credit profile and things you can work on to keep improving your credit.
The Credit Pros Review
Monthly fee: $69 – $149
The Credit Pros offers some of the most affordable prices in the industry, with monthly services starting at just $69 for its Money Management plan, which includes access to updated credit reports every 60 days, identity theft restoration insurance, goodwill, debt validation, and cease and desist letters to creditors, in addition to unlimited disputes per cycle.
The company’s other two plans, the Prosperity Package and the Success Package, offer basically the same features as the Money Management plan, the only difference is that they include other perks, like discounts on medication and products from affiliate websites, like National Credit Direct.
Each of these plans also feature tools like real-time account sync, bill reminder, budgeting system, access to the company’s legal network, and personalized action plans with certified FICO professionals, so you can work towards good financial habits.
Although all of these selections offer some sort of complimentary credit monitoring solution, The Credit Pros took it a step further by offering every possible tool you can think of, from dark web monitoring to social security trace to pay-day monitoring.
Another thing worth noting is that the company’s free consultation is available to both English and Spanish speakers—something not common in this industry.
Ovation Credit Repair Review
Monthly fee: $79 – $109
Ovation Credit Repair was founded by attorneys and offers two levels of credit repair: the Essentials Plan and the Essentials Plus Plan. Both plans include a free consultation with a credit analyst, personalized credit dispute options and a case advisor that will oversee the process from start to finish.
Depending on your plan, the company also offers credit monitoring solutions by TransUnion, with unlimited goodwill and debt validation dispute letters.
Aside from its many credit-related services, Ovation Credit Repair also stands out when it comes to its discounts. These include a 20% couple’s discount, a credit of up to $50 on your next monthly billing for referring a friend or switching from another credit repair company, and discounts for seniors and members of the military.
How We Found The Best Credit Repair Companies of 2020
To find the best credit repair companies of 2020, we conducted extensive research and interviewed experts in different areas of the credit industry, including counselors, attorneys, repair specialists, and spokespersons from credit bureaus.
Once we concluded this phase, we were able to come up with a list of factors to evaluate these companies, selecting those that stood out from the rest in each of the following categories:
We selected companies whose offerings go beyond the traditional cookie-cutter credit repair. Some of the services include credit monitoring, identity theft protection, social security trace, credit building, and financial management tools.
Repairing your credit should be affordable, since it’s technically something you can do on your own for free and you are only using these companies for their convenience, expertise, and speed.
Our list of top picks feature both affordable packages to help you rebuild your credit, plus a variety of discounts to maximize your savings.
A company is only as good as its guarantee, that’s why we chose companies that offer at least a 90-day money-back guarantee, to ensure you get refunded for any services you’re not satisfied with.
Reputation and Customer Experience
Your credit is serious business, which is why it’s important to hire a company whose reputation is both excellent and verifiable, to avoid any future woes. Our list of companies have been around for over ten years and have a strong reputation across different consumer-review platforms, like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Google Reviews.
We also preferred companies that offer easy-to-use apps and user portals, in addition to providing access to specialists, for a smoother experience.
Things to Keep in Mind When Hiring a Credit Repair Company
Is Now a Good Time to Use a Credit Repair Company?
As the worldwide coronavirus pandemic affects the financial situations of millions of people, government agencies and financial institutions are adopting measures to help navigate these difficult times.
For example, the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) are offering free weekly reports through April 2021. Now is as good a time as any to check your reports for errors and, if there were any present, to use the services of a credit repair company to fix them.
Further, the Federal Reserve has taken several steps to support the economy during these times of COVID-19, such as slashing interest rates to near zero. This rate change is envisioned to last into the foreseeable future, which means that mortgage and refinance rates are at or near all-time lows.
If you’re shopping around for mortgage rates or looking to refinance your home, it makes sense to first make sure your credit score is in solid shape. Using a credit repair company like the ones listed above could help you secure even more favorable rates.
What if I Have an Error on My Credit Report During the Coronavirus Pandemic?
The federal government has enacted several measures to provide borrowers with relief during these difficult times. The CARES Act signed into law on March 27 provided homeowners with protection against foreclosure and allowed mortgage forbearance for borrowers with loans backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the USDA, and the VA. This stipulation is set to expire on August 31, 2020, so borrowers should contact their lenders to see if they qualify. Borrowers with other types of home loans should also contact their lenders, just to see if they qualify for other relief programs.
Meanwhile, student loan debtors received additional relief by having loan payments suspended, collections and defaults put on hold, and interest rates set to zero. Although the measure was set to expire on September 30, 2020, the White House has now extended the grace period through December 31, 2020.
While these assistance programs have undoubtedly helped thousands if not millions of people, there have been errors in implementation that have shown up on credit reports.
For one, if you missed a payment during the initial months of the pandemic, the lender might have reported it as a late payment. You might not have noticed because late payments don’t show up on your report until at least a month later. Further, borrowers could have been eligible for separate relief measures offered by lenders and not the government-mandated relief. If you wanted to participate in a relief program but did not notify the lender, it’s possible that late payments were reported to the credit agencies.
In these instances, it’s important to verify your credit report at least monthly. If you notice any errors, or if you feel a late payment was reported unfairly, you must contact your lender to get an answer. Using a credit repair agency could also provide benefits and save you the time and energy it takes to challenge a point on your credit report.
How It Works
Each credit repair company has its own way of doing things, but most of them follow this four-step process:
- Free Consultation. During the free consultation, a representative will walk you through the credit repair process, and will pull up your credit report from all three bureaus, to see if you’d be a good candidate for a credit repair.
- Power of Attorney and Consent. Once the representative concludes analyzing your credit report, they will send you a document that lists possible errors for you to evaluate. If these in fact are inaccuracies, they will send you a contract in which you’ll be asked to sign a power of attorney or another form of consent, so they can dispute or challenge these instances legally on your behalf.
- Challenge Items. After having your legal consent, the company then proceeds to challenge these items with both creditors and the credit bureaus, through letters and phone calls. The credit bureaus then have 30 days upon receiving the dispute to investigate it, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). If they’re able to verify that the challenged items are in fact errors, they’ll have to remove them from your credit file.
- Progress Report. In the meantime, the credit repair company will keep track of this process and send you updates on the status of each disputed item. As soon as the dispute is resolved, the credit repair company will send you a progress report along with an updated copy of your credit report, so you can review the changes.
You Can Do this on Your Own
Dvorkin observes that paying a company to repair your credit is similar to paying someone to do your taxes: you can do it on your own, but you must have some basic knowledge in order to succeed. Thankfully, credit bureaus have taken on the task of simplifying the process, allowing you to dispute items online, for free.
“It’s like an online shopping cart,” says Rod Griffin, Senior Director of Consumer Education and Advocacy at Experian, as to how easy it is to dispute claims on your own just by visiting the bureau’s website.
“If you already have a current copy of your credit report, you can enter the report number on our website, and the report will come up on the screen,” says Griffin. “When that report comes up, each item will have a button next to it that says, ‘I need to dispute this,’” he adds.
You can mark multiple items at a time by clicking the “dispute” button and adding a short explanation next to it that explains what the error is. Once you’re done, you click on “submit,” and the dispute will go right into the bureau’s system.
Afterwards, the lender has 30 days to respond, and if it was an error, the bureau will remove it usually by the next cycle.
Debt Settlement vs Credit Repair
Credit repair is about identifying and fixing mistakes on your credit report. Going through this process won’t have a negative impact on your report or your score, it can either stay the same or improve. Debt settlement isn’t the same.
“Debt settlement is resolving your debt, and making a deal to pay off your outstanding debt at a reduced amount,” says Dvorkin. “The nature of debt settlement typically causes people’s credit to be impacted negatively, while credit repair is trying to clean up the damage,” he adds.
Debt settlement can leave a negative mark on your credit file for up to seven years. This can affect you down the line by hurting your chances of getting approved for any loans or credit cards, since it will make you seem as a risky borrower because you basically took the easy way out and left the creditor hanging.
Know Your Rights
In their contracts, credit repair companies should always include a copy of the Consumer Credit File Rights Under State and Federal Law. You also have the right to cancel any services without incurring any penalties, within three business days after signing the contract, in compliance with the FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule.
Additionally, credit repair companies can’t charge you in advance for their services. “It’s illegal to ask for money in advance,” says Dara Duguay, CEO of the Credit Builders Alliance. In other words, these companies can only charge you for services they have actually fulfilled.
When signing the dotted line, pay close attention to the conditions that are being stipulated, to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company that won’t violate your rights or take advantage of you in the future.
If It Sounds Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
There is nothing wrong with offering a satisfaction or a money-back guarantee, but some companies may promise you that they can remove all the negative marks on your report, and even build you a new credit identity. “You can’t just erase all the negatives if they’re accurate, and that’s the caveat,” says Duguay.
The FTC states that these types of promises are a clear sign that the company isn’t legitimate and may ask you to engage in fraudulent activities, such as applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or using a 9-digit number that resembles a social security number, known as a “credit profile number,” to obtain results.
Some companies may also flood credit bureaus with letters challenging the same item over and over. They do this to overwhelm the bureaus, so they fail to answer in a timely manner and are forced to remove the mark from your report. Although this may work at first, if accurate, this instance will resurface at some point, and you’ll end up right where you started.
Before subscribing to any of these services, make sure to ask the representative pertinent questions about the company’s credit repair approach to avoid getting into a tricky situation.
Summary: Best Credit Repair Companies of 2020
- Credit Saint
- The Credit Pros
- Sky Blue
- Ovation Credit Repair