THE CREDIT BUREAUS

The Ones Behind Your Mystical

Credit Score

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THE CREDIT BUREAUS

The Ones Behind Your Mystical

Credit Score

Get a better idea on who the credit bureaus are looking at and how they view you as a consumer. They only run your life...

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Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the three major credit bureaus in the United States. Credit bureaus are private companies that compile data for your credit report. Because your credit report gives information to potential lenders and can impact whether you’re approved for a loan or a credit card, it’s crucial to know how credit bureaus operate.

In this guide, we’ll break down what the credit bureaus do, how they score you and other important information.

What Does a Credit Bureau Do?

Credit bureaus compile data about your credit history to form a credit report. The information on your credit reports includes personal data like your name, mailing address and a list of your employers, as well as credit accounts like loans and credit cards.

When a lender evaluates you, they go to one of the three main credit bureaus for a report. Any potential lender or employer can only receive your credit report with your permission. Your credit report won’t include information like your age, race, or marital status.

What You Should Know About Each Credit Bureau

The three major credit bureaus are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. As private companies, they each have their own way of collecting credit history data from a variety of sources.

Here’s what to know about each credit bureau:

  • TransUnion: Starting in 1968, TransUnion acquired and then expanded its library of credit files. By 1988, they had an active credit profile for almost every consumer in the country.
    Now operating in 33 countries, TransUnion offers CreditCompassTM recommendations which help you point your score in the right direction. They also provide Credit Lock services to protect your report from criminals.
  • Equifax: Formed in 1899, Equifax began as a group of tailors from Great Britain who swapped information about consumers that didn’t pay their debts. In 1965, it became a publicly held corporation. Equifax offers credit report monitoring, social security number scanning, and discounted family plans.
  • Experian: Founded in 1826, Experian is the oldest credit bureau. Experian now operates in 37 countries. They provide special services like Experian BoostTM and identity theft monitoring.

How Do Credit Bureaus Get Your Information?

The three main credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—have access to the credit history of millions of people. They obtain this information from banks, loan companies, retailers and other lenders. The companies that report information are known as data furnishers.

Credit reporting is voluntary and not all companies do it. Those that report might do so at different times of the month, and some only report if you’ve missed a payment. Some companies report only to one or two of the three credit bureaus.

Where credit bureaus can get information:

  • Mortgage lenders: If you currently have a mortgage, or have paid one off in the last ten years, your lender will probably report your mortgage, how much you still have to pay and your monthly payment history.
  • Credit card companies: Many credit card companies report to the credit bureaus. Expect to see any active credit card accounts on your credit report, as well as any you’ve closed in the last six years.
  • Retailers: If you’ve been given a store card by a retailer you can expect them to report the information.
  • Loan companies: If a Loan company reports to the bureaus, they will provide the balance of your loan, the amount due, the amount paid and the status of your account.
  • Telecommunications companies: Your mobile or internet bills could show up on your credit report, depending on the company.
  • Student loan companies: In our experience,student loan companies report information to the credit bureaus. Deferred payments also show up.
  • Peer-to-peer lenders: Peer-to-peer loans may appear on your credit report, even though there isn’t a fixed repayment period.
  • Collection agencies: If your account has fallen into the hands of a collection agency, then it may be reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Courts: Public records are available to the credit bureaus, so your report will likely show if you filed for bankruptcy or have judgments against you (including settled ones).
  • Landlords: Not all landlords report payments to the credit bureaus, but it’s becoming more common.

Where credit bureaus can’t get information:

  • Small businesses: A small business is unlikely to become a data furnisher. The Fair Credit Reporting Act has requirements for any company wanting to become a data furnisher, and the process is costly and lengthy.
  • Friends, family and business partners: Similarly, there’s no way that a friend, family member or someone you work with can become a data furnisher and report something you owe them.
  • Medical companies: Medical companies are unlikely to report any medical debts you have unless you’ve missed payments.
  • Utility companies: Utility companies are unlikely to report to the credit bureaus if your account is up-to-date. If you fall behind on payments, it may show up.

Why Are My Scores From the 3 Credit Bureaus Different?

Your scores from the three credit bureaus can be different because they each obtain and score data differently. Each bureau has its own methods and partners for collecting information, including the purchase of public record information, such as tax liens and judgments.

The vast majority of the data collected by the credit bureaus is reported to them by banks, credit unions, credit card issuers, auto lenders, mortgage providers and retailers.

Creditors are under no obligation to report information to any of the credit bureaus, let alone all three of them. This means you may have accounts that show up on a single credit report, but not the others.

For those attempting to rebuild credit—after credit repair or undergoing a bankruptcy discharge, for example—it’s important to realize that only after information has been reported to the bureaus can it help. For example, credit cards can help rebuild your credit, but only when payments are reported.

Why Should I Check All of My Reports?

You should check all three of your credit scores because the report generated by each bureau may contain different information and a different score.

Depending on the lender or bank you’re trying to get approval from, they may be accessing all of your reports or only one or two of them. Knowing what your reports look like can give you a clear prediction of whether you'll be accepted.

Reviewing all three reports also lets you know if there are errors. There might be an inaccuracy that shows up on one of your reports, but not the other. Ensuring all three of your reports are accurate can help you maintain a good credit standing.

How Do I Get a Free Credit Report from all 3 Credit Bureaus?

You can get a free credit report from all three bureaus by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Each credit bureau gives you a free report every year, so if you spread out when you get your reports, you can get a free credit report every four months.

Are There Other Credit Bureaus?

Besides the three main ones, there are other credit bureaus in the United States. They are reporting agencies that specialize in compiling reports, and many people are unaware that they exist. Unlike the big three credit bureaus, which are required to provide credit reports annually at no cost, these reports don't fall under the FCRA.

Here are some other credit bureaus:

  • ChexSystems: This bureau collects consumers’ banking information, such as savings and checking account information (which is not included in the three main credit reports). With ChexSystems, a bank or credit union can pull information on past activities such as overdrafts and bounced checks.
  • LexisNexis: This bureau issues a report called Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE). The report is used by insurance companies and keeps track of property losses (such as cars and homes). It’s pulled when you’re looking to change insurance companies so they can see how likely you are to file claims.
  • Business-related credit bureaus: Like consumers, businesses also have credit scores. Experian and Equifax provide credit scores for businesses as well as other specialized credit bureaus such as Moody's and Dun & Bradstreet.

Disputing Your Information with the Credit Bureaus

When reviewing your credit reports, be on the lookout for errors and fraudulent activity. These negative marks can hurt your credit score, even though they should have never been there in the first place.

Get them resolved by filing a dispute as soon as you can, ideally within 30 – 45 days. You’ll need to file a dispute with each bureau to make sure it’s corrected on each report. If you need help, you can contact FreshCredit® to learn how our credit repair services can help you through this process.

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We lead the industry in data interoperability and integrations.

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FreshCredit® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services will be provided by a regulated member of the FDIC to be announced at a later date.

THE CREDIT REPORTS

How Do I Read

These Credit Reports

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THE CREDIT REPORTS

How Do I Read

These Credit Reports

Sometimes things seem more confusing than they are. This is one of those moments. Learn cause your life depends on it.

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Your credit reports are a compilation of your credit history, including accounts that are open and closed, personal information, and employer information. Just like you can have varying credit scores, your reports can vary.

Different credit bureaus compile credit reports, though the reports may be different depending on what information has been provided to the bureaus. Sometimes, information that has been shared with one credit bureau has not been provided to another one. Therefore, it’s important to monitor reports from each bureau.

What Is Included in Your Credit Reports?

There’s a lot of important information in your credit report. Everything from your personal information and your credit accounts to your public records can be found here.

Personal Information

Your personal information is shown in your credit reports, including your name, your current and previous addresses, your social security number and your employer information.

  • Legal name
  • Current and previous addresses
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Employer information
  • Listed phone numbers

Credit Accounts

Credit reports also include information about your accounts such as credit cards, auto loans, student loans, and mortgages. They also include information like late payments, collections, and timelines associated with these accounts.

  • Current and former credit cards
  • Auto loans
  • Student loans
  • Mortgages
  • Credit limits and amounts
  • Account balances
  • Account payment histories
  • Open and close dates of accounts
  • Names of all creditors
  • Collection items and accounts

Public Records

Your credit reports also contain a list of businesses that have pulled your credit. This includes instances when you applied for a new credit account or when a business pulled your credit for promotional purposes. Public records are also included.

  • Credit inquiries
  • Liens
  • Foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies
  • Civil suits and judgments
  • Child support payments

Why Are Credit Reports Important?

Credit reports are incredibly important because the information in them is used to calculate your credit score. Your credit score shows whether you are a credit risk to potential lenders. If any information in your credit reports is inaccurate, it could be hurting your credit score as well as your chances of getting approved for new credit.

Lenders aren’t the only ones who can access your credit reports. Employers can also check your credit reports. Not every employer does this, but a lot of jobs in finance want to see if you’re financially responsible. Government jobs that require security clearance are also known to check credit reports.

Checking Your Credit Reports

Monitoring your credit helps you know what information is in your credit reports at all times. Sometimes, errors may pop up and you will need to dispute them.

If you want to improve your credit, the first thing you should do is request to see your credit reports. Checking your reports helps you understand what’s helping your score and what is hurting your score.

It can also be helpful to look at your credit reports if you’re about to apply for something big, like an auto loan or a mortgage. The better your credit score, the more likely you’ll be able to get approved and have a lower interest rate. Having your credit report a few months before you apply gives you the chance to fix anything that may be negatively impacting you.

You can request your credit reports from all three credit bureaus for free through Annual Credit Report once a year. Other circumstances such as credit denial and identity theft also allow you to access your free credit reports. You can also purchase credit reports from the credit bureaus if you need to look at updated copies for whatever reason.

If you see errors on your credit reports that are negatively impacting you and need help challenging them, contact FreshCredit®.

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We lead the industry in data interoperability and integrations.

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FreshCredit® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services will be provided by a regulated member of the FDIC to be announced at a later date.

THE CREDIT SCORE

Does A Credit Score Tell Me

The Future

Follow this step by step guide to control your own credit and take back your personal data.

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THE CREDIT SCORE

Does A Credit Score Tell Me

The Future

Follow this step by step guide to control your own credit and take back your personal data.

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A credit score is a number used to provide an overview of your financial health and responsibility. It pulls information from your credit reports and uses an algorithm to come up with a number, somewhere between 300 and 850.

Your credit score carries tremendous weight. The purpose of a credit score and your credit reports is to give lenders and others a quick, easy way to assess the level of risk they will be taking if they enter into a financial relationship with you. It’s used by lenders, landlords, insurance companies and others to determine your level of risk and responsibility.

The higher your credit score, the lower the risk to the lender, because your high credit score indicates you have been financially responsible. Your credit score impacts your ability to purchase a new home or a car or rent an apartment. A good credit score can play into your ability to secure insurance and can save you lots of money.

Here we’ll cover in-depth credit scores, what makes them “good” or “bad” and what you can do to monitor yours!

How Is a Credit Score Generated?

Credit scores are calculated using an algorithm. Anytime you borrow money from a lender, information about that account was likely shared with at least one of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian). If you’re seeking credit from a bank or credit union, they will use the information from these credit bureaus to make a lending decision.

Manually combing through all the details of your credit and payment history would be a cumbersome task for any lender. That’s why lenders depend on credit scoring companies like FICO® to generate your credit score.

Credit Score Ranges

There are various different credit scoring formulas currently in use, but most of them operate on a scale of 300–850. Each credit score has its own variations on the same basic concept. The most commonly used scoring method, maintained by the Fair Isaac Corporation, is the FICO® Score.

If a lender has ever pulled your credit report and gotten back to you with your current credit score, there is a very good chance it was a FICO® Score they gave you, as the FICO® Score is used in about 90 percent of all lending decisions made in the U.S. Although there are no official distinctions, the following credit score ranges are generally accepted ranges used by many lenders:

  1. 300–549 - Bad
  2. 550–649 - Poor
  3. 650–699 - Fair
  4. 700–749 - Good
  5. 750–850 – Excellent

Of course, regardless of the label anyone chooses to put on a score, the bottom line is the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be extended credit, and the less you will have to pay for it.

What Makes a Good Credit Score?

Perhaps the simplest answer to this question comes from FICO® themselves: “If you pay all your bills on time every time, keep revolving balances low, and only open new credit when necessary, you will have a good FICO® Score. It really is that simple.”

However, we can dive a little deeper into the subject. The following five factors are key to achieving and maintaining a good credit score, no matter which score is being used. The percentages listed refer to how heavily these factors weigh into your FICO® Score:

Payment History: 35%

Lenders want to see that you consistently pay your bills on time, and that you pay at least the minimum required amount each time they’re due. Even one late payment or missed payment can have a serious impact on your credit score, so prioritize making payments on time and for the full amount.

Credit Utilization: 30%

This is how much of the total amount of credit available to you is being used. The rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization at or below 30% of your overall credit limits. For instance, if you have a total credit limit of $10,000 available, try to keep your balance below $3,000.

Credit Age: 15%

Everything else being equal, a longer credit history scores better than a shorter one. To raise your score, even if an account has a $0 balance, do not close the account. As it stays on your record, it adds to your total available credit and the total length of your credit history.

Number of Inquiries: 10%

A hard inquiry occurs when a lender pulls your credit report in response to your request for credit, such as when you apply for a credit card or a car loan. A large number of inquiries in a fairly short time will drop your score dramatically, so make sure to do your due diligence ahead of time and only fill out an application when it is truly needed and/or you are certain you can handle the responsibility.

Different Types of Credit: 10%

This factor displays a well-rounded credit history. Primarily, the mix will consist of revolving debt (credit cards) and installment debt (car loans, student loans).

What Causes a Bad Credit Score?

There are several ways to hurt your credit score. As you may have guessed from the previous list, not paying your bills on time is one of the most common ways credit scores suffer. Some other common mistakes people make that result in a bad credit score include:

  • Making late payments (Payment History)
  • Maxing out credit cards (Credit Utilization)
  • Applying for too many credit cards (Number of Inquiries)
  • Closing $0 balance lines of credit (Credit Age, Credit Utilization)
  • Refusing to use credit at all (Credit Age, Different Type of Credit)

There are more things that can negatively impact your credit. It’s important to remember that inaction can have just as much impact as positive or negative action, so it’s important to be proactive if you want to improve your credit score.

What Are the Implications of Bad Credit?

Bad credit certainly won't do anything in your favor to impress potential lenders, landlords or employers. The bottom line is they are likely to view your unstable financial past as a good indication of your future financial behavior. Because of the perceived business risk, lenders may not approve you.

If they do, they’ll likely charge you higher interest rates. Employers may decide to pass you over in favor of someone with better credit. Additionally, insurance companies may charge higher premiums to compensate for your perceived high-risk.

What Is Not Included in My Credit Score?

Your credit scores are only based on facts and are not meant to be biased against you. Some of the things that don’t impact your credit score are:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Your national origin
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Salary
  • Sexual orientation
  • Occupation and employment history

Additionally, if you have received public assistance in the past, this is not factored into your score. U.S. law protects individuals from discrimination by prohibiting these items from being part of your credit score.

It’s also important to note that if you’re applying for something big like a car loan or a mortgage, the lender may ask you for your salary and employment status to make sure you can pay the loan back, but this has no bearing on your credit score.

How to Improve Your Credit Score

There are many ways to improve your credit score. Keeping old credit cards open is one way to improve the length of your credit history. Another is to spread out credit card debt across multiple cards. Always pay off your highest interest debt first and make payments before credit card companies make updates to the credit bureaus. You can learn more about how to improve your credit score and build credit.

Not every individual with a bad credit score is a high risk. Cases of identity theft, inaccurate information and other examples of unfair credit reporting may depict you in an unjustifiably wrong light.

It’s up to you to determine whether your credit score accurately reflects your financial past. That’s why you should take advantage of your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), including your right to a free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus every year, and the right to dispute any unfair, inaccurate or unsubstantiated items you find on that report.

The good news is that Federal Law regulates the credit reporting agencies. You have a right to a fair and accurate credit report and can dispute information that is inaccurate, unfair or unverifiable.

If you’re not sure how to dispute information on your credit reports, or feel overwhelmed, you can seek help from qualified professionals who can guide you through the process and act as advocates for you.

We lead the industry in data interoperability and integrations.

We lead the industry in data interoperability and integrations.

Learn how we collect and use your information by visiting our Privacy Policy›

 

FreshCredit® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services will be provided by a regulated member of the FDIC to be announced at a later date.

CREDIT AND LOANS

How Does Credit Effect

My Current Loan Status

Find out how much your credit score will affect your next loan and how you can use it in your favor.

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CREDIT AND LOANS

How Does Credit Effect

My Current Loan Status

Find out how much your credit score will affect your next loan and how you can use it in your favor.

Learn how we collect and use your information by visiting our Privacy Policy›

 

FreshCredit® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services will be provided by a regulated member of the FDIC to be announced at a later date.

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It happens to all of us: situations occur where we need extra cash — whether it’s for a car repair or unexpected medical bill. Maybe you need $500 or $2,000 to cover a certain expense. Whatever the reason, you may be considering a bad credit loan as an avenue to get you the money you need quickly.

You’re not alone, either. Many people end up in situations where they have bad credit and limited options for covering unexpected situations. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 29 percent of American households have less than $1,000 in savings. With minimal savings, it’s tough to pay for unplanned bills or cover living expenses if you lose a job.

However, before you make the decision to apply for a bad credit loan, make sure you understand the risks and other options available. Some bad credit loans offer better terms than others, too. Our guide walks you through everything you need to know about bad credit loans and potential lenders.

What are bad credit loans?

Bad credit loans are personal loans offered to individuals with weak, poor or non-existent credit. The loans can be used for anything from medical bills and home repair to the purchase of a used car. A range of financial institutions provide bad credit loans — such as online lenders, credit unions and banks.

In general, bad credit loans tend to have higher interest rates and fees, along with less than desirable terms for the borrower. When you have a low credit score, lenders interpret this to mean you’re a high credit risk and more likely to default on a loan than someone with a good credit score. To offset this risk, lenders charge much higher interest rates. If you — or anyone else — declares bankruptcy or otherwise defaults on a loan, the lender has that additional money from the high interest rates to cover the loss.

Therefore, borrowers with good credit tend to be approved for loans with better interest rates and terms. Each lender has its own cutoff credit scores and criteria for loan approval and fees. Your credit score is an important measure of your financial health.

What is considered a bad credit score?

A bad credit score is generally considered anything below 560 on the FICO® scoring system. A low score might mean that you’ve failed to make payments on-time, maxed out your credit cards or have a negative incident like a foreclosure. Credit scores also consider public records such as bankruptcies and any state or federal tax liens.

To see where your credit score ranks, check out the FICO® ranges below. These ranges are estimates, as each credit bureau and financial institution has a slightly different definition of good and bad credit.

FICO® Score Ranges for Loans with Bad Credit

  • Bad or Poor Credit: 559 and lower
  • Fair Credit: 560–669
  • Good Credit: 670–739
  • Very Good Credit: 740–799
  • Exceptional Credit: 800+

If you have a credit score in the 500s, for example, qualifying for some loans might be difficult or costly. Sometimes you can still be approved — even with a low score — because it depends on individual lender criteria.

Unsure of your credit score? You may be able to get a copy of your score through your bank or credit card — or a free online service. You can also purchase a credit score check from any of the three main credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.

How can I get a loan with bad credit?

Having bad credit doesn’t mean you’ll always be turned down for a loan, but it can make it harder to be accepted by a lender. If you don’t have a stellar credit record, you might still get approved for a loan if you have a steady job, enough income or have collateral — like a car or motorcycle — for a secured loan.

While a bad credit loan might be a way for you to get the cash you need, bad credit loans often make your financial life more difficult — not better. Borrowers with bad credit pay extra fees and interest to make up for the fact that they’re less likely to pay off an entire loan. The extra fees are often very steep.

As an example, in the chart below, you can see the potential difference in fees based on credit status. For a 30-year mortgage of $250,000, someone with bad credit could end up paying $132,574 more in interest than someone with good credit.

Using a bad credit loan to cover the $250,000 mortgage, you could expect a monthly payment of over $1,500. If you had good credit, however, and were able to make the same $1,500 monthly payment, you could afford a $325,000 home with your mortgage payment.

Even if you can afford the payments on a bad credit loan, by settling for such a loan, you’re not only setting yourself up to lose significant cash, but you’re denying yourself the opportunity to purchase a larger home or nicer vehicle later on.

Borrowers using bad credit loans get charged substantially more — sometimes more than what’s required to cover the lender’s risk. The large additional amount could be why certain lenders eagerly accept borrowers with poor credit history.

Types of bad credit loans

Bad credit loans come in two main varieties: secured and unsecured.

Secured loans are granted to borrowers who own a valuable asset — generally referred to as collateral. Most secured loans use vehicles as collateral but other eligible assets include a house, boat or savings account. With a secured loan, if you’re unable to pay back the amount you borrowed, the lender is legally permitted to seize your asset. Secured bad credit loans typically have high fees and terms, but can offer larger cash amounts than unsecured loans. When deciding on a secured loan, keep in mind that the lender can assume possession of your asset if the loan is not repaid.

An unsecured loan is granted based on the borrower’s credit score and history, rather than collateral — meaning the loan doesn’t require an asset like a car or home to be approved, and the lender can’t seize an asset if the loan isn’t repaid. Unsecured loans are often harder for borrowers with bad credit to be approved for, but still are possible. Interest rates and terms depend on the lender, but are typically better than with secured loans.

Both secured and unsecured bad credit loans require completing a contract — if you receive approval. You’ll have to agree to the terms, rates and conditions of the loan. If you fail to repay your loan, the lender may sell your account to a collections agency and the negative mark will appear on your credit report. That’s why it’s important to be confident you can repay a loan, so it doesn’t negatively impact your credit history for years to come.

How to choose a loan company for bad credit

Being selective with your lender will save you plenty of headache — and money. Interest rates and repayment terms differ among lenders, so doing your homework is well worth your time. Be sure to watch for these main considerations when looking for a bad credit loan.

Review the interest rates and repayment terms.

What Annual Percentage Rates (APR) does the lender offer? How quickly do you have to repay the loan? What happens if you don't repay the loan on time? Read through all of these details closely before signing a contract.

Opt for a personal loan instead of a payday or title loan.

Payday and title loans often have extremely high interest rates. These lenders make it more difficult and costly to make repayments than with other lenders. Personal loans, for example, usually have longer repayment schedules and lower interest rates.

Choose a lender who verifies your financial standing.

Any responsible lender will verify your information to confirm your ability to repay the loan. A predatory lender aims to catch you with a high-interest loan that you won’t be able to repay — giving them the upper hand to seize more money or your collateral.

A responsible lender will review details like your previous bank statements and proof of income. No matter the circumstance, though, a lender should always perform a soft credit check. If a lender doesn’t check your credit, they’re not interested in your ability to repay the loan — signaling that they’re a dangerous or predatory lender.

Fortunately, soft credit checks don’t impact your credit score. A hard credit inquiry, on the other hand, notifies the credit bureaus and can negatively affect your score — depending on how many inquiries you have in a certain time frame.

Find a trustworthy lender.

In addition to reviewing interest rates and terms, look for a loan company who’s reliable, trustworthy and abides by lending laws. If you can, read other borrowers’ reviews of the company to make sure they’re an honest lender.

Search for flexible repayment plans.

Some lenders will try to lock you into a short-term repayment schedule, which is often difficult to repay, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra cash on-hand. For example, payday lenders may only give you two weeks to pay back an entire loan. Instead, look for a 12- or 18-month repayment schedule. You’ll have more opportunities to make payments on time and the repayment amounts will often be smaller.

Ensure the lender reports payments to the credit bureaus.

If you make timely payments on your loan, it can improve your credit score over the long term. However, the lender needs to report your payments to the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) to make it count. Check with your potential lender to ensure they report on-time payments.

What Are the Risks of Getting a Bad Credit Loan?

Before agreeing to a bad credit loan, be sure you’re aware of the associated risks and costs.

First, a bad credit loan often comes with higher interest rates — meaning you’re paying back much more on a loan than someone with a good credit score. This extra cost can be quite steep. Depending on the size of your loan and interest rates, you could pay hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands more than a loan granted with a good credit score.

Second, if you choose an untrustworthy lender — like one who doesn’t check your credit score and ability to repay — you could be stuck with worse credit than when you started. Such lenders are considered predatory because they aim to trap you in a loan you won’t be able to repay. That’s why we strongly recommend choosing a lender who runs a soft credit check before any loan is approved. Like the saying goes, if the deal sounds too good to be true — like offering you cash without a credit check — it probably is.

Options Beyond a Bad Credit Loan

When considering a bad credit loan, many people feel stuck with their current credit score. If you’re in this situation, consider exploring your options. For example, is there a family member or friend who could lend you money while you work to repair your credit status? There are several ways to fix bad credit, most of which take a couple of months or more.

Many people find that a few months of proactively working to improve their credit is enough to help them qualify for loans at much lower interest rates. In some cases, the savings associated with the lower rates could mean the difference between being able to afford a modest $250,000 home versus a sprawling $400,000 property. The significant cost savings and ability to purchase a larger home or nicer vehicle make credit repair well worth your time.

Credit repair goes beyond working to improve your score: it’s about removing errors on your report that are negatively impacting your credit and should have never been on your report to begin with. In fact, the credit system is far from perfect and millions of Americans have credit scores that are not accurate assessments of their credit risk.

Fortunately, the law affords all Americans the right to dispute any items in their credit report that they feel may be inaccurate, untimely, misleading, incomplete, ambiguous, unverifiable, biased or unclear ("questionable"). Because negative credit entries have such a large impact on credit scores, by removing these listings, people have been able to leap from poor credit to credit scores of 700 and above.

FreshCredit® helps consumers legally dispute these questionable negative listings and has been able to help clients remove millions of negative items from their credit reports.

Fixing Your Credit

While a bad credit loan might seem like one of your only options for getting the cash you need, know that bad credit doesn’t have to be permanent. You can take steps to fix your credit and improve your score over time.

By taking positive actions such as removing errors on your report and paying on past due accounts, your credit score will begin to recover. Even with small improvements, you’ll be better qualified for loans — meaning your payments will be less and your terms will be better. By taking the right steps to repair your credit, you’ll be closer to financial stability and prosperity.

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FreshCredit® is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services will be provided by a regulated member of the FDIC to be announced at a later date.