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Published: Feb 28, 2024 41 min read

Our team was among the first to thoroughly research, evaluate and pick the best credit repair companies in the market.

Since we first published in 2016, we’ve spent thousands of hours investigating the industry, vetting around two dozen national providers. We compared them on 15+ data points that include fees, plans, customer feedback and industry reputation. Based on this extensive research, we picked the top credit repair companies in the market, including Credit Saint, Sky Blue Credit and the Credit Pros.

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Our Partner
Company Highlight
TOP PARTNER
Our Partner

Wide range of affordable and comprehensive package options

  • The advisory team helps you take the necessary steps to improve your credit health overall
  • Setup or First Work Fee: $99 - $195
  • Monthly Fees: $79.99 - $129.99
  • Over 10,000 Google Reviews at 4.8 Stars
  • 90-day Money-Back Guarantee

 

Our Partner

All plans include unlimited disputes to all three credit bureaus

  • Monthly fees: $99
  • Flat-rate six month fee for $599 also available
  • First work fee: $19
  • No available discounts
  • Money-back satisfaction guarantee refunds the month you cancel the service and previous month

 

Our Partner

Offers a single, low-cost credit repair package

  • ​​Pause and resume your membership at will through your online account
  • Setup or First Work Fee: $79 ($119 for couples)
  • Monthly Fees: $99 - $119
  • Discounts available for couples
  • 90-day Money-Back Guarantee
Our Partner

Over 15 years of experience in the industry

  • First work fee: $99
  • Monthly fees: $99
  • Includes free consultation, credit score analysis and more
  • No available discounts
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
Our Partner

Even the most basic packages include financial management tools

  • Credit monitoring is included with every plan, regardless of the price
  • Setup or First Work Fee: $119 - $149
  • Monthly Fees: $69 - $149
  • No available discounts
  • 90-day Money-Back Guarantee
     
Our Partner

Available in 49 states

  • Considerable industry standing with a track record of 18 years.
  • Pricing starts at $99.95 per month (cancel anytime)
  • Discounts available for military, family/household, and referrals
Our Partner

Industry-leading state coverage and provides services in Spanish

  • Offers a free credit score evaluation and consultation

  • First Payment: $49.95 - $119.95

  • Monthly Fees: $49.95 - $119.95

  • 50% discount on First Payment for veterans and active military

  • No Money-Back Guarantees

 

Money's Main Takeaways

  • Credit repair involves reviewing your credit report for inaccuracies and disputing them with the reporting agencies.
  • You can repair your credit history yourself, but hiring a credit repair service can be helpful if your report has multiple mistakes.
  • Credit repair companies evaluate your credit report and dispute any errors on your behalf with the credit bureaus and your lenders.
  • Some companies also offer ongoing credit consultations and additional financial tools, like credit and identity theft monitoring.
  • The process can be time-consuming, often lasting up to a year.

Why Trust Us?

Our editorial staff has more than a decade of experience with the credit and credit repair services industry. We review credit repair companies independently, ensuring our content is accurate and guided by editorial integrity. Read our full methodology to learn more.

  • 22 companies reviewed
  • 10+ data points used, including pricing, services and customer support
  • 100+ sources reviewed

Our Top Picks for Best Credit Repair Companies

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Best Credit Repair Reviews


Pros
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Clear pricing policies
  • Online sign-up available
  • Online chat available weekdays from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Cons
  • Service not available in South Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Maine and Washington, D.C.
  • First work fee of up to $195
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$79.99 – $129.99
Set-up fee:
$99 - $195
Money-back guarantee:
90 days

Why we chose this company: Credit Saint is our pick for Best Overall because of its clear pricing policies and comprehensive package options.

The company offers three credit repair packages: Credit Polish, Credit Remodel and Clean Slate. The packages — which range from $79.99 to $129.99 — 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.

Each package also features a different suite of financial tools. The basic plan, for instance, includes a credit score tracker, while the highest tier plan adds credit and identity theft monitoring, lost wallet protection and more.

Credit Saint offers a free consultation to evaluate your particular situation and 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 provides a credit score analysis and educational content to help customers better understand their credit. Some plans also include a personalized guide to building credit. Additionally, the company offers a 90-day money-back guarantee if you don’t see any changes in your credit history after three months.

Credit Polish

$79.99 p/m

Credit Remodel

$99.99 p/m

 

Clean Slate

$129.99 p/m

 

  • $99 one-time initial work fee
  • Dispute up to 5 items per monthly cycle
  • Score Analysis
  • Score Tracker
  • Access to Educational Content
  • 90 Day Money Back Guarantee
  • $99 one-time initial work fee
  • Dispute up to 10 items per month
  • Same as Credit Polish plan
  • Creditor Intervention Letters
  • Personalized Guide to Building Credit
  • Identity Theft Protection
  • One-Bureau Report and Scores
  • Real-Time Account Sync
  • ID Cover Darkweb Monitoring
  • $195 initial work fee
  • Unlimited monthly disputes
  • Same as Clean Slate plan
  • Three-Bureau Reports and Scores
  • Three-Bureau Change Alerts
  • Change of Address Alerts
  • SSN Trace
  • Payday Loan Alerts
  • Sex Offender Monitoring
  • Lost Wallet Protection
  • Early Warning System for Bank Accounts
  • $1M ID Theft Insurance Policy

Read full review>>

See plans on Credit Saint's Secure Website>>


Pros
  • Online contact options
  • Free credit report consultation
  • All plans include identity theft insurance
Cons
  • Accused by the CFPB of collecting illegal advance fees
  • No satisfaction guarantee
  • Only up to 3 Experian interventions per month
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$99.95
First payment:
None
Money-back guarantee:
None

Why we chose this company: Lexington Law is our pick for Industry Leader due to its more than 18 years of experience and almost nationwide availability (every state except in 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.

The company offers a single credit repair package for $99.95 per month. The plan includes challenges to all three credit bureaus, creditor intervention letters and $25,000 identity theft insurance. You also get personalized credit score improvement strategies to help improve your overall credit health.

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 Law has had its share of legal problems. Recently, the company was accused of charging illegal upfront fees through telemarketing, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has entered a proposed settlement requiring Lexington Law to pay a $2.7 billion fine.

Additionally, in June 2023, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The case is pending.

Despite this, Lexington Law remains a powerful player in the industry and offers the advantage of having an experienced law firm handling your case.

The company offers the following credit repair packages:

Concord Standard
$95.95 p/m

Concord Premier
$119.95 p/m

Premier Plus
$139.95 p/m

  • Skilled lawyers and paralegals
  • Challenges to all three credit bureaus
  • Creditor intervention letters
  • Personalized score improvement strategies
  • $25,000 coverage in identity theft insurance
  • Up to 6 Equifax & TransUnion disputes per cycle
  • Up to 3 Experian disputes  per cycle
  • Up to 3 creditor interventions per month
  • Inquiry Assist
  • Report analysis
  • Report Watch Alerts
  • TransUnion Credit Monitoring
  • ID Theft Insurance (Up to $25,000)
  • Debt Handler
  • Up to 8 Equifax & TransUnion disputes per cycle
  • Up to 3 Experian disputes  per cycle
  • Up to 6 creditor interventions per month
  • Inquiry Assist
  • Report analysis
  • Report Watch Alerts
  • TransUnion Credit Monitoring
  • Transunion FICO score 
  • ID Theft Insurance (Up to $1,000,000)
  • Lost Wallet Protection
  • DebtHandler
  • Junk Mail Reducer
  • Financial Transaction Alerts

Read full review>>

See plans on Lexington Law's Secure Website>>


Pros
  • 50% discount for couples
  • Repair up to 15 items every 35 days
  • Online sign-up available
  • Pause your subscription whenever you like
Cons
  • No financial tools, such as credit score tracker
  • Credit disputes limited to five per bureau every 35 days
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$79 or $99 for individuals ($119 or $149 for couples)
Set-up fee:
$79 or $99
Money-back guarantee:
90 days

Why we chose this company: Sky Blue Credit Repair is our pick for best value because it offers low-cost credit-repair packages that include just about everything you need to clean up your credit report quickly.

For $79 a month, Sky Blue provides a basic package that includes credit bureau disputes, three-bureau reports and scores, one-on-one consultations, an online client portal and a credit score tracker.

The company also offers a full service package for $99 a month. This includes everything in the basic one as well as creditor interventions, debt validation letters, cease and desist letters, personal information correction letters, credit-building tools and more.

The company can also help you organize a strategy to improve your credit score, and you can schedule consultations if you have questions about anything credit-related, like credit card offers or loan applications.

It’s also worth noting that Sky Blue Credit Repair offers one of the most flexible subscriptions on the market. If you want to skip a month of service without canceling your subscription, you can request a pause through your online account.

You won't be charged while your account is paused, and you can resume the subscription when needed. This could save you money on startup fees, which most credit repair firms charge whenever you start using their services.

Its credit repair plans include:

Full Service

$99 p/m

($149 for couples)

Basic Plan

$79 p/m

($119 for couples)

  • Three-bureau reports and scores
  • Credit bureaus disputes
  • One-on-one consultations
  • Score tracker
  • 24/7 access to client portal
  • 60-Day credit updates
  • Everything in basic plan
  • Creditor interventions
  • Inquiry disputes
  • Debt validation letters
  • Cease and desist letters
  • Personal information correction letters
  • 45-Day credit updates
  • Credit builder tool

Read full review>>

See plans on Sky Blue's Secure Website>>


Pros
  • Simple pricing structure
  • Customer service available through phone, chat or email
  • Low one-time first work fee ($19)
  • Unlimited challenges with all three bureaus
Cons
  • No credit monitoring
  • No financial management tools
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$99, $119 or $599 six-month flat rate
Set-up fee:
$19 (No setup fees with six-month plan)
Money-back guarantee:
Cancel at any time and you won't be charged for that month of service. If you choose the flat-fee plan, you have a full six-month satisfaction guarantee

Why we chose this company: The Credit People is our pick for Best Guarantee because it offers low startup fees and lets customers cancel their subscriptions when they need to.

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 also set it apart from competitors. Credit repair services usually charge around $99 or more to set up your account and pull your credit report but The Credit People only charges $19.

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 if you have any questions.

The three memberships offered by The Credit People include the following credit repair services:

Standard Plan
$99 p/m

Premium Plan
$119 p/m

Flat-rate Plan
$599 One-time fee

  • $19 initial fee
  • Credit score before and after negative items are removed
  • Unlimited disputes to all three credit bureaus
  • $19 initial fee
  • Credit score from all bureaus updated monthly
  • Debt validation letters
  • Creditor interventions
  • Unlimited disputes to all three credit bureaus
  • $19 initial fee
  • $499 flat-rate pricing for a six month membership ($83.16 p/m)
  • Same benefits as the premium plan
  • Cancel at any and get a refund for the remaining months

Read full review>>

See plans on The Credit People's Secure Website>>


Pros
  • Financial management tools and credit monitoring included with every plan
  • Live chat available
  • Certified FICO professionals
  • No setup fee
Cons
  • Basic credit repair package only includes one credit dispute
  • 24/7 phone support isn't available
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$69 – $149
Set-up fee:
$119 or $149
Money-back guarantee:
90 days

Why we chose this company: Many credit repair companies offer extra perks only with their most expensive plan. We chose The Credit Pros as Best for Bonus Features since it offers useful financial management tools at all price tiers.

The plans include tools like bill reminders and a budgeting system that syncs to your accounts in real time. They also feature TransUnion alerts to track credit score changes and dark web monitoring to check if your personal information (like your Social Security number or address) was leaked.

However, note that the company's most affordable service package (Money Management) doesn't include credit repair services. It only features a financial consultation and credit and identity theft monitoring services, which are often available for a lower cost by identity theft protection services.

For help fixing credit report errors, you must subscribe to the Prosperity or Success Plus package. These include unlimited disputes, creditor interventions and cease and desist letters.

The Success plan also lets you access reports and scores from the three credit bureaus and a credit builder loan that can help improve your credit history if you make timely payments.

All plans include access to The Credit Pros' mobile app, which lets you review disputes, receive real-time updates and monitor your credit score and report.

The company's free consultation is available in English and Spanish, something not common in the credit repair industry. However, note that its initial work fee is higher than many other competitors' — $119 for its low and medium tier plans and $149 for its premium plan.

Money Management
$69 p/m

Prosperity
$129 p/m

Success Plus
$149 p/m

  • $119 one-time initial work fee
  • One-bureau report and scores
  • ID Cover Darkweb monitoring
  • TransUnion alerts
  • Real-time account sync
  • Bill reminder
  • Budgeting system
  • $129 one-time initial work fee
  • Same features as the Money Management plan
  • Three-bureau Credit bureau challenges
  • Cease and desist letters
  • Letters of reference
  • Creditor interventions
  • $149 one-time initial work fee
  • Same features as the Prosperity plan
  • Access to credit builder loan (if interested)
  • Three-bureau reports and scores

Read full review>>

See plans on The Credit Pros' Secure Website>>


Pros
  • AI software analyzes your credit reports to identify negative items
  • Automatically generates dispute letters based on your credit situation
  • Keeps track of your credit score and disputes with an easy-to-read dashboard
  • Monthly plans include identity theft insurance
Cons
  • You must mail the dispute letters yourself
  • No credit experts to assist you
  • No money-back guarantee
  • No credit consultations
HIGHLIGHTS
Monthly fee:
$24.95 - 29.95
Set-up fees:
None
Money-back guarantee:
None

Why we chose this company: Credit Versio is our pick for Best for DIY Credit Repair because it’s a low-cost alternative to traditional crexdit repair services and simplifies the often complicated credit repair process.

Even though you can dispute credit inaccuracies yourself at no cost, the process can be time-consuming and stressful. Credit repair software, Credit Versio, can help streamline this process.

The company’s software uses artificial intelligence to scan your credit reports for negative items that may be lowering your credit score. It then organizes them according to the credit bureau that reported it.

If you find a mistake, the software can generate tailored dispute letters based on your credit information and why you believe that item is inaccurate.All you have to do is print out the letter and mail it to the credit bureau.

Credit Versio offers three plans that provide unlimited dispute letters and monthly credit reports and scores. Two give you access to SmartCredit’s credit monitoring platform, and the most expensive plan also includes IdentityIQ, an identity theft protection service.

Adding these services lets Credit Versio keep track of any changes to your credit report in case you need to send out more dispute letters.

smartcredit BASIC
$24.95 p/m

smartcredit PREMIUM
$29.95 p/m

IdentityIQ
$29.99 p/m

  • Unlimited disputes
  • Monthly 3-Bureau reports & scores
  • Identity insurance up to $1 million
  • Credit monitoring alerts from TransUnion
  • Access to Smartcredit Money Manager
  • Two monthly Transunion Report & score
  • Unlimited disputes
  • Monthly 3-Bureau reports & scores
  • Identity insurance up to $1 million
  • Credit monitoring alerts from TransUnion
  • Access to Smartcredit Money Manager
  • Unlimited Transunion Report & score updates
  • Unlimited disputes
  • Monthly 3-Bureau reports & scores
  • Identity insurance up to $1 million
  • Real Time 3 Bureau Credit Monitoring

Read full review>>

See plans on Credit Versio's Secure Website>>

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90-day Money-Back Guarantee

  • Accredited by the Better Business Bureau, with an A rating
  • Transparent pricing policies
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Three tiers give you options on claims disputed and cost
  • Credit tracker alerts you of any change to your credit report

Offers a single, low-cost credit repair package

  • Services starting at $79 per month*
  • Pause and resume your credit repair membership at any time
  • 90-day unconditional money-back guarantee
  • Reduced rates for couples looking to better their credit
  • A+ rating on Better Business Bureau
  • Educational content offers debt management tips

Plans start at $79 per month (cancel anytime)

  • $99 per month (cancel anytime) 
  • Accelerated dispute process, verifications, and challenges 
  • High credit report and score improvement rate 
  • All three scores updated continuously 
  • Money-back satisfaction guarantee 

Helps remove inaccurate remarks from report

  • Service starts at $99 per month
  • Real Attorneys Local to Your State
  • Paralegals assigned to your case
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Free consultation

Credit monitoring included

  • Even the most basic packages include financial management tools
  • Credit monitoring is included with every plan, regardless of the price
  • Setup or First Work Fee: $119 - $149
  • Monthly Fees: $69 - $149
  • 90-day Money-Back Guarantee

 

Other credit repair companies we considered

We researched dozens of companies in the process of compiling our list of the top credit repair services. Some companies, however, didn’t make the cut. These are some of them:


Safeport

Pros
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Credit score tracker and analysis
  • 24/7 online progress tracking
Cons
  • Only one credit repair plan

Safeport Law charges $99 monthly and a $99 set-up fee for its credit repair services. The plan includes challenges to the three main credit bureaus and a credit score analysis and tracker. However, the company only offers one plan, while our main picks have two or more.

See plans on Safeport's Secure Website>>


Credit Glory

Credit Glory charges $99 per month and a $299 setup fee, which is significantly higher than some of our leading picks. Additionally, the company doesn't include a credit monitoring or dispute tracking service, nor does it offer any discounts.

Pros
  • Customer service available on weekends
  • Setup fee charged once dispute letters are sent
  • 90-day money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Credit monitoring available at extra cost
  • No discounts

See plans on Credit Glory's Secure Website>>


CreditRepair.com

CreditRepair.com offers a free online initial evaluation that includes your credit score, a negative item summary and a personalized credit-repair plan. It has three service packages ranging from $69.95 and $119.95, which are competitive prices. But, unlike our main picks, the company doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee.

Pros
  • Educational blog about credit
  • Three service plans available
  • Free credit score included
Cons
  • No information about its staff's qualifications
  • Pending legal action from the CFPB
  • Unclear information on its three service plans

See plans on CreditRepair.com's Secure Website>>


Trinity Credit Services

Trinity Credit Services has over nine years in the credit repair business. The company offers a free credit report evaluation and a customized credit repair plan, which you can keep track of online. However, the company isn't clear about service costs and setup fees on their website. Additionally, they don’t provide information about guarantees.

Pros
  • Free credit report evaluation
  • Track the dispute process online
Cons
  • No information about services and fees

See plans on Trinity Credit Services's Secure Website>>


Pyramid Credit Repair

Pyramid Credit Repair has over ten years of experience. It's one of the few credit repair companies offering a discounted plan for couples and 24/7 customer support. However, its setup fees are higher than many of our main picks.

Pros
  • Offers 24/7 customer support
  • Free credit consultation
  • Discounted couple plan available
  • Discounts for the military and teachers
Cons
  • Little information regarding plans
  • Individual plan doesn't include finance tools

See plans on Pyramid Credit Repair's Secure Website>>


AMB Credit Consultants

AMB Credit Consultants has been in business for more than 10 years, but there are some drawbacks to its services. For example, it doesn't offer a free credit consultation. You must subscribe to a monthly credit monitoring plan from IdentityIQ for $24.99 before scheduling a consultation.

Pros
  • Over ten years of experience
  • Discount for couples
Cons
  • Advises against using AnnualCreditReport.com (the only federally authorized site to obtain free credit reports)
  • Must commit to at least 6-9 months of service
  • Must pay for a credit monitoring subscription before initial consultation
  • Extra fee for third-party credit monitoring

See plans on AMB Credit Consultants' Secure Website>>


Creditfirm.net

CreditFirm.net charges $49.99 per month for individuals ($89.99 for couples), which is relatively inexpensive compared to other companies. But the company doesn't offer a free credit consultation, money-back guarantee or additional finance tools.

Pros
  • No setup fees
  • Couples discount available
  • Cancel any time
  • Unlimited disputes to creditors
Cons
  • Monthly credit monitoring not available
  • No money-back guarantee
  • Outdated website is hard to navigate
  • Customers must send in credit reports themselves

See plans on Creditfirm.net's Secure Website>>


Credit Assistance Network

The Credit Assistance Network's website is outdated and hard to navigate. There's little to no information regarding the company's reputation on third-party party review sites. Additionally, the company doesn't offer credit repair services. Instead, it forwards you to The Credit Pros, one of our main picks. With this in mind, we recommend signing up with The Credit Pros directly.

Pros
  • 20% discount for friends or spouses
  • Includes personal finance tools
  • Credit restoration services managed by The Credit Pros (one of our main picks)
Cons
  • Outdated or unclear information on its website

See plans on Credit Assistance Network's Secure Website>>


Credit Repair Guide

Credit report mistakes are much more common than you might think. And, while you can remove inaccurate information from your credit report yourself, the process is often frustrating and time consuming.

A credit repair agency can make this process easier by doing the heavy lifting for you — obtaining your reports, finding inaccuracies and disputing any mistakes on your behalf directly with lenders and credit bureaus. However, many companies make false claims and lure customers into paying for services that won't deliver any results.

Table of Contents

What is credit repair?

Credit repair is the process of improving one's credit history and score. It often involves reviewing your credit history for inaccuracies and disputing them with the credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

You can repair your credit report yourself for free. Additionally, you could consider hiring a credit repair company, which reviews your reports for mistakes and disputes them by contacting the credit bureaus on your behalf.

Taking the time to repair your credit can raise your credit score, which can improve your approval odds for the best credit cards and loans, and help you qualify for more favorable interest rates.

How does credit repair work?

Whether you do it yourself or hire a company, credit repair usually involves:

  • Requesting your credit reports from the main credit bureaus
  • Reviewing them for inaccurate information
  • Filing a dispute with the credit bureau that generated the erroneous report

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), you have the right to dispute any information you believe is inaccurate. The credit reporting agencies must investigate within 30 days and delete the item from your report if found to be erroneous. They are also required to send you the results of the investigation within five business days of completing it.

Note that you (and credit repair companies) can only remove inaccurate information from your credit report. If your report doesn't have errors, you should focus on paying your bills on time, keeping a low credit utilization ratio and reducing your total debt. (Check out How to Fix My Credit for more information.)

How do credit repair companies work?

Each credit repair company has its own way of doing things, but most of them follow a four-step process:

Credit consultation

The credit repair company will walk you through the credit-repair process and review your credit reports for errors and derogatory marks, like collections and bankruptcies. They may also offer personal finance advice to help you achieve a good credit score.

Sign limited power of attorney

The company’s representatives will have you sign a contract giving them limited power of attorney, that is, the legal right to act on your behalf.

Challenge inaccurate negative items

Once you give them the legal authority to do so, the company disputes inaccurate items with your creditors and the major credit bureaus. Errors on your credit report can include tax liens or foreclosures that don’t belong to you, duplicate accounts or outdated information.

Progress reports

The best credit repair companies will track your disputes’ progress and update you frequently on the status of each disputed item. They will usually send progress reports along with an updated copy of your credit report so you can review the changes.

How much does credit repair cost?

Credit repair agencies typically charge between $50 to $150 per month, depending on the service plan you choose. They also charge a setup fee (also called initial or first work fee) that's often a similar price to the monthly subscription.

This cost generally includes monthly credit report and score analyses and a set number of bureau disputes and creditor interventions. Some companies also provide financial tools like credit score trackers and budgeting software

How long does it take to repair your credit?

"The amount of time it takes varies greatly depending upon each person's unique circumstances and other actions they take to improve their credit," says Thomas Nitzsche, Sr. Director of Media and Brand for credit counseling agency Money Management International.

For example, Nitzsche says you may see a credit score increase in around one to three months once errors are disputed and removed from your report. On the other hand, accurate negative items, like late credit card payments, stay on your file for seven years.

The good news is that the impact of negative information lessens as time goes on. "It is difficult to say how much of an impact different negative items on a report will have, but the older an account is, the less impact it has on a score," explained Becky House, Director of Strategic Initiatives for credit counseling agency American Financial Solutions.

Nitzsche also mentioned that how much a negative item lowers your score depends on the individual's credit profile. For example, the effect should be less drastic if you have other credit lines in good standing. "This is why it's important to take proactive steps to get trade lines back into good standing or to create new ones reporting positively," added Nitzsche.

House also pointed out that lenders can have different guidelines on which negative items they're willing to accept when evaluating a borrower's credit history. "For instance, one lender may be okay funding a loan for someone who had a negative credit mark three years ago; another lender may have a risk policy that denies loans if someone has that information on their credit report."

How long do negative items affect your credit score?

The impact of negative information lessens as time goes on. "It is difficult to say how much of an impact different negative items on a report will have, but the older an account is, the less impact it has on a score," explained Becky House, Director of Strategic Initiatives for credit counseling agency American Financial Solutions.

Nitzsche also mentioned that how much a negative item lowers your score depends on the individual's credit profile. For example, the effect should be less drastic if you have other credit lines in good standing. "This is why it's important to take proactive steps to get trade lines back into good standing or to create new ones reporting positively," added Nitzsche.

House also pointed out that lenders can have different guidelines on which negative items they're willing to accept when evaluating a borrower's credit history. "For instance, one lender may be okay funding a loan for someone who had a negative credit mark three years ago; another lender may have a risk policy that denies loans if someone has that information on their credit report."

What you should know before hiring a credit repair company

There are some things to keep in mind when you're trying to rebuild your credit history:

Not all negative items can be removed

​​A red flag that a company is scamming you is if it guarantees it can remove all negative items from your report. Late payments, hard inquiries, charge-offs, repossessions and debt collections can only be removed if the information is inaccurate or outdated. If a negative item is correct, it generally stays on your report for seven years — and up to 10 years for Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

For more information on other potential red flags, check out Warning signs of a credit repair scam.

Deleted items can reappear on your credit report

Deleted items can reappear on your report if the bank, credit card company or debt collector reports them to the bureaus again. House mentioned that this usually happens if the reporting company believes the disputed item is valid.

You (or the credit repair company) can file a new dispute. However, House says it should be reframed or updated to better explain why the information on your report is wrong. You can do so by providing additional documentation to support your claim.

You might have to do some of the legwork

You may have to provide credit repair agencies with documentation to support disputes of negative information on your credit report.

Most companies have setup fees

Most credit repair companies charge an initial fee (also called setup or first work fee) that can range anywhere between $15 to $200. This fee is used to set up your account, which may involve gathering your personal and financial information and creating a strategy plan for your particular credit situation.

Companies can’t charge you in advance for their services

Once you pay the setup fee (if required), companies can’t make any additional charges unless they prove that the services offered to you in their contract are being fulfilled.

You have three business days to cancel a contract without incurring any penalties

The Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) states that you have the right to back out of a contract within three business days of signing it without any charges or cancellation fees.

How to choose the right credit repair company

These are some factors to keep in mind to avoid credit repair scams:

1. Look out for false promises

Legitimate credit repair companies will never guarantee they can remove accurate information from your report or promise you a new credit identity, for example.

For steps on how to deal with negative items that cannot be disputed, read our guide on how to repair bad credit.

2. Check for Credit Repair Organizations Act (CROA) compliance

Make sure the company you choose follows CROA guidelines, which establishes clear directives that legitimate credit repair agencies should follow. According to the CROA, credit repair companies must:

  • Provide a written contract explaining their services in detail, including service costs, guarantees and an estimate of how long the process will take

3. Read customer reviews

You can check sources like Google Reviews, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Yelp to gauge customer experience. If you read multiple reviews alleging similar types of issues, you can consider it a red flag. However, we recommend complementing what you read with further research since many people post reviews when they’re unhappy with a service, not when they’re satisfied.

4. Check the regulatory agencies

When searching for the right credit repair company for you, it’s a good idea to check the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint database and check how many complaints — if any — have been filed against that particular provider.

5. Compare fees and prices

Reputable credit repair companies will list their prices and services clearly, so consumers can select the right package for their needs.

6. 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.

When to consider a credit counseling service

If you have bad credit, Thomas Nitzsche from Money Management International recommends contacting a credit counseling service as soon as possible. He emphasized that consumers shouldn't wait until they need to raise their score (such as before buying a house or car) to get help. "Building a good credit score takes time and should be started as soon as someone is aware they have bad credit."

A credit counseling service can help you improve your financial situation overall, not just dispute credit report mistakes. “They work with people to address their entire financial picture as well as the person’s goals. The goal is to have a sustainable budget, repayment structure for debts and build or rebuild a positive credit history,” noted Becky House from American Financial Solutions.

Keep in mind that a credit counseling service won't dispute errors on your behalf. However, Nitzsche mentioned that they can offer advice on how to do it yourself and how to build your credit moving forward.

Additionally, credit counselors offer resources and workshops on budgeting, debt consolidation, debt management plans (DMP), bankruptcy, housing and more.

Note that credit counseling services are usually non-profit, but some of their services do carry a small fee of up to around $50. If you're interested in consulting a credit counselor, you can find a certified one through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Differences between debt settlement, credit repair and credit counseling

Debt settlement, credit repair and credit counseling are all in the personal finance sphere, but it’s important to note the key differences between the three methods.

Debt settlement service

Credit repair service

Credit counseling service

For-profit service

For-profit service

Non-profit, but may charge a small fee for some services

Negotiates with your lenders so you can pay  a reduced amount

Identifies and repairs mistakes on your credit report

Provides debt and money management advice

Involves stopping debt payments until a settlement is reached

Communicates with creditors and reporting bureaus to fix credit report errors

May negotiate better loan terms with your creditors, lower monthly payments

Will impact credit negatively for up to 7 years

Improves credit by removing reporting mistakes

Can help you set up a personalized debt repayment strategy to improve credit

Can hurt chances of getting loans or credit cards for some time

Increases the possibility of being approved for loans and credit cards

Increases the possibility of being approved for loans and credit cards

Best to consider it as a last resort

Best for those who need help removing mistakes from their report

Best if you’re having trouble making on-time payments or paying down debt

Warning signs of a credit repair scam

The credit repair industry has its share of controversies and scams. With this in mind, it's important to recognize red flags that indicate a company might be engaging in questionable practices.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a credit repair company might be deceiving you if it:

  • Asks for upfront fees before it provides any services
  • Claims it can remove all negative information from your report, even if it's accurate and up-to-date
  • Advises you to dispute correct information in your credit report
  • Says you shouldn't contact the credit bureaus yourself
  • Doesn't inform you of your rights, including the ability to cancel your contract with the company within three business days after signing it
  • Doesn't provide a written contract outlining details such as service costs and guarantees
  • Asks you to waive any of your rights under the CROA
  • Offers you a "new" credit identity or profile

You should be particularly wary of companies that guarantee they can remove accurate collections from your credit report, as House warned that this action could lead to a potential lawsuit.

"We have seen this trigger lawsuits against consumers that resulted in garnishments. The person owed the debt, was advised to dispute it and did, and the collection agency then filed suit to obtain a garnishment," House explained.

DIY credit repair

Credit repair companies are helpful if you can afford the service and don’t have the time to dispute the items. However, it’s important to note that you can repair credit issues yourself at no cost. There are also ways to improve your credit score without the help of a credit repair agency.

Here are some steps you should take to repair your credit:

  • Examine your reports for any discrepancies, on-time payments labeled as late or accounts that don’t belong to you
  • If you spot an error, visit the reporting bureau’s website and file an online dispute
  • Include with your dispute supporting documentation (like bank statements) that proves the items your disputing are inaccurate

Credit bureaus must investigate disputed items within 30 days and delete it from your report if found to be erroneous. They might also delete items from your report if the creditor or collection agency can’t validate the debt and is unable to provide evidence that it belongs to you.

If you’re up to the task, the first step is to learn how to read your credit report. Once you do, check out our guide on how to remove items from your credit report.

How to fix my credit

Fixing your credit goes beyond checking your report for errors. “It is important for consumers to address negative items on a credit report. However, simply eliminating negative items is not necessarily going to move a score,” noted House.

"Consumers should be careful to make on-time payments moving forward. They should also keep revolving credit line balances under one-third of their available limit," added Nitzsche. He also recommends establishing credit lines that can help report a positive payment history to your file, like a secured credit card or credit-builder loan.

Read on to understand why these measures can help improve your creditworthiness.

1. Make timely payments

The first step is to consistently pay your bills on time because your payment history is the most important factor evaluated by credit scoring models. A 30-day late payment can lower your score by as much as 100 points, and the impact on your creditworthiness is worse if you're 60 or 90 days past due.

2. Lower your credit utilization ratio

Your credit utilization ratio indicates how much of your available credit you are currently using. It is the second most influential credit scoring factor after your payment history.

Experts often recommend keeping a credit utilization ratio below 30%, which lenders see as a sign that you’re not over-relying on your credit cards. However, keeping it under 10% is even better. According to FICO, consumers with an 850 credit score (the highest achievable score) use around 4% of their available credit limit.

You can calculate your credit utilization ratio by dividing your outstanding credit card balances by your credit limits. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 credit limit, try to use $3,000 or less every month.

3. Reduce your overall debt

Reducing your outstanding balances can improve your creditworthiness and increase your approval odds for loans and cards by decreasing your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

DTI ratio is an important factor lenders use to evaluate credit applications. It represents your monthly debt obligations divided by your gross monthly income, and experts recommend keeping it at or below 36%.

Paying down your loans and credit cards lowers your DTI ratio and shows lenders you can afford to take on new credit. At the same time, it decreases your credit utilization ratio, which we previously mentioned is the second most important credit scoring factor.

For tips on reducing debt, check out our guide How much is too much debt.

4. Get a secured credit card

If you don't currently qualify for most credit cards, consider applying for a secured one. Secured credit cards have higher approval odds because they require a security deposit that acts as collateral if you don't make your monthly payments.

Using a secured card and paying it on time will help you improve your credit score so you can qualify for better cards and loans in the long run.

Check out our list of the Best Credit Cards To Build Credit for more information.

5. Consider a credit-builder loan

Credit-builder loans are designed to help borrowers establish a good credit history.

Unlike traditional loans, you won't receive the funds upfront. Instead, your lender holds them in a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). Once you settle the loan by making monthly payments, you'll get access to the money.

This approach makes credit-building loans more accessible for borrowers with bad credit since it guarantees the lender doesn't lose any money if you don't meet your monthly payments. Also, your lender reports your payments to the credit bureaus, which can improve your credit score if you pay on time.

Credit-builder loans are typically available between $500 and $2,000, although some lenders offer as much as $5,000. Keep in mind that, like other loans, they charge an annual percentage rate (APR). It typically ranges from 6% to 16%, but some lenders refund the interest charges you paid at the end of the loan term.

The Cost Of Lower Credit Scores

Bad credit impacts your finances in more ways than you might think. The effects of having less-than-stellar credit aren’t just measured in terms of your ability to gain access to credit but also in how much that access costs you.

While some companies will approve borrowers with fair to poor credit, they will do so at a higher interest rate. This means that the lower your credit score, the more expensive loans will be.

Let's run through a breakdown of how much interest you can expect to pay based on your credit score range. In this example, we’ll assume a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan for $400,000, which is close to the median of home prices in the U.S.

Take a look at this example to see how the difference between excellent credit and fair credit can cost you upwards of $150,000 over the life of a 30-year loan:

FICO Score

APR

Monthly Payment

Total Interest Paid

760-850

6.761 %

$2,597

$535,034

700-759

6.983 %

$2,657

$556,392

680-699

7.16 %

$2,704

$573,559

660-679

7.374 %

$2,762

$594,474

640-659

7.804 %

$2,881

$637,012

620-639

8.35 %

$3,033

$691,964

Latest News on Credit Repair

  • Check out How to Use a Credit Card to Build Credit to learn how using your cards strategically can improve your creditworthiness.
  • Our guide on How to Get a Home Equity Loan With Bad Credit goes over everything you need to know about getting a HELOC loan even if your credit is less than stellar.

Credit Repair FAQs

What is a good credit score?

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Based on the FICO scoring model, good credit scores fall within the range of 670 to 739. For VantageScores, the "good" range is between 661 and 780. Anything above that is considered very good or excellent.

What is a perfect credit score?

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A perfect credit score usually refers to the highest possible score on a credit scoring model, which is 850 on both the FICO and VantageScore systems. Note that it's quite challenging to earn this score, but it's also unnecessary. You'll have outstanding approval odds and favorable loan terms once you reach the "very good" range in the FICO model (between 740-799).

What is a bad credit score?

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Bad credit scores often fall within the fair or poor range of credit scoring models. In the FICO scoring model, scores between 580 and 669 are fair, and anything below 580 is poor. In the VantageScore range, anything between 601 and 660 is fair and below 601 is poor.

How to fix your credit

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You can fix your credit on your own, but it will take time, effort and patience. Review each of your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax for errors or information that's more than seven years old. If you find any, file a dispute with the credit bureau and contact your creditor. They are legally obligated to investigate and eliminate inaccurate information from your report, at no charge to you.

How long does it take to repair credit?

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The credit repair process does take time, and the amount of time it takes can depend on whether the items that are causing a low score are correct or not. If there are mistakes in your credit that can be corrected by disputing them with the bureaus, the repair process can take a few months. If the factors that are impacting your credit are correct, the process can take a year or more and involves reducing your credit card debt, lowering your credit utilization ratio and more.

Does credit repair work?

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Credit repair services can help you remove inaccurate or outdated negative marks from your credit report. However, if your credit report is correct, you'll have to improve your credit yourself or attend credit counseling. Also, note that you can remove credit reporting mistakes on your own for free by submitting disputes with each credit bureau.

How We Chose the Best Credit Repair Companies of March 2024

Since we first started reviewing credit repair companies in 2016, we’ve spent thousands of hours researching the industry and vetting its major players.

As part of this research, members of our editorial staff have sought out first-hand experience with some of the names included in our list. Additionally, we re-evaluate our top picks every month to provide readers with the most up-to-date information on both these services and credit repair in general.

To choose the best credit repair companies, we evaluated the following factors:

Transparency: We considered whether companies provided clear, upfront information about their prices, fees, services, guarantees, terms and conditions and privacy policies.

Pricing and discounts: We compared companies' service plans based on cost, favoring providers that offered multiple options at several price points. We also considered their setup fees, also known as first-work fees. We also noted any available discounts, such as for couples or service members.

Services: All credit repair services claim to review and dispute inaccurate and/or outdated information that’s affecting your credit history. However, we favored companies that offered a variety of services tailored to different budgets and that also offered additional services, such as free credit consultations, creditor interventions and cease and desist letters.

Financial tools: We checked whether companies offered financial tools that might help consumers improve their credit, such as a credit score tracker, monthly credit reports and/or identity theft monitoring.

Client portal: Companies that offered a portal or app for clients to track their dispute status and credit repair progress stood out from the competition.

Money-back guarantee and cancellation policy: We favored companies that offered refunds or guarantees if they couldn’t remove or correct errors from your credit report within 90 days. We also preferred companies that didn’t charge cancellation fees.

Customer Support: We preferred companies that offered several contact options like online chat, support forms and email, which can improve their responsiveness to customer issues or complaints.

User experience: Beyond pricing and services, we also took into account the ease of use of each company website and if the information provided was up to date.

Service area: We considered the number of states where the companies operate and prioritized those that are available nationwide.

Company history: Our top picks are reputable credit repair services that have been around for more than ten years and garner mostly positive customer reviews across different platforms.

Customer satisfaction: We checked reviews across third-party review websites, such as the Better Business Bureau, to gauge customer satisfaction and any patterns of complaints regarding a company's services.

Regulatory actions: We looked for any history of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) violations and searched the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Database to check these companies’ history of customer complaints or enforcement actions.

Sources Used

  1. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
  3. AnnualCreditReport.com

Summary of Money’s Best Credit Repair Companies of March 2024