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Steps to Take After Bankruptcy to Rebuild Credit

By Philip Tirone

After a bankruptcy, rebuilding your credit may be the last thing you want to do. Avoid the urge to walk away from the loans and credit cards that precipitated the bankruptcy. Instead, focus on rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. Whatever you do, don’t wipe your hands clean of credit.

Contrary to popular belief, using credit appropriately in the wake of a bankruptcy is the best way to rebuild your credit. If you follow a smart plan to re-establish your credit, it is possible to rebuild your credit score to 720 within a couple of years. This is the most important action you can take after bankruptcy.

This twofold plan begins with opening new lines of credit and concludes with paying your bills on time and in full. Therefore, keep small balances on your credit cards to ensure you are able to pay what you owe each month.

Rebuilding Your Credit after Bankruptcy Rule #1: Open new lines of credit!

Have you heard claims that you can have a bankruptcy wiped from your credit report? Do not believe these claims because they are not true. There is no legal way to wipe a bankruptcy from your credit report. However, time does reduce the impact of a bankruptcy on your credit report. All three credit-scoring bureaus—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—are more concerned with your recent credit behavior rather than your past credit behavior. The trick is to persuade credit bureaus to pay more attention to your recent good behavior than to your past behavior. By establishing new credit and using it responsibly, you can prove to the bureaus that you are a new person. Demonstrate to them that the bankruptcy forced you to get rid of negative credit habits and replace them with smarter financial strategies.

After declaring bankruptcy, open three new credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express) and one installment loan as part of your plan to rebuild credit after bankruptcy. Keep the credit cards active by using them at least every other month. Make only small charges, preferably less than 10 percent of the limit, and pay the balances in full.

Know that you will pay high interest rates with the credit cards and installment loan. This is one of the results of your bankruptcy. Another is that you will not qualify for the best interest rates with a low credit score. That’s why it is important to pay credit card and loan balances in full as quickly as possible.

Open credit cards and an installment loan as soon as possible after your bankruptcy. The credit-scoring bureaus respond best to accounts that have been open for a long time. Your future credit score is dependent upon opening all accounts now and paying them in full monthly.

By opening new lines of credit, you begin to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy. This allows the credit bureaus to re-evaluate your credit based on the new information it receives from your creditors. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are now able to judge your credit worthiness based on your current credit information. Use this as an opportunity to show them you have changed your patterns of behavior.

Don’t delay. Immediately begin proving to the credit bureaus that your bankruptcy allowed you to turn over a new leaf and change your payment behavior.

Rebuilding Credit after Bankruptcy Rule #2: Never, never, never make a late payment!

After a bankruptcy, the credit-scoring bureaus will have an eye on you, even as your score begins to climb. If you make a payment that is even one day late, the bureaus will assume you are back to your old ways, and your progress will be for naught.

The best strategy to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy is to pay your bills on or before the due date every month. This means that you must live within your means.

For more information on rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy, read this article on how to create a budget, find money, and establish habits that best afford you to bounce back after a bankruptcy.

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