You can remove a bankruptcy from your credit report if it’s there by mistake. If the bankruptcy is really yours you can’t remove it, but you can reduce its impact.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy?
It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
From 2005 to 2017, approximately 12.8 million US consumers filed for bankruptcy. If you were one of them, you’re not alone.
In some situations, bankruptcy is the only viable option for getting your financial situation under control. That doesn’t mean it’s a free ride. Your credit will take a serious hit, and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy – the most common kind – will stay on your credit report for 10 years.
That’s not easy to face, but you’re not helpless either.
How Long Will A Bankruptcy Stay On My Credit Report?
How long does a bankruptcy stay on your credit report? It depends on the type of bankruptcy filed, but between 7 and 10 years.
I probably don’t have to spell out that this is bad news for your credit score. The impact lessens over time, but the first few years following a bankruptcy can be rough.
Before you go down a rabbit hole googling things like “Can Lexington Law remove bankruptcy?”, let me clarify something:
You can’t magically delete a legitimate bankruptcy from your credit report.
The good news?
You can reduce and eventually minimize the impact and rescue your credit score.
Start With Your Credit Report
Everything we’ve discussed so far applies to people with legitimate bankruptcies on their credit reports. In those situations, you can’t erase bankruptcy, just take steps to minimize its impact.
But we know credit reporting errors are pretty common.
There are people walking among us with bankruptcy on their credit report that doesn’t belong to them.
Talk about a kick in the face!
There are also people still being plagued by old bankruptcies that should have fallen off their reports already.
Protect your credit score by regularly reviewing your report for inaccuracies.
The first step toward building better credit is to get your credit reports regularly and read them carefully. If you don’t understand what you’re seeing, check out this guide to understanding a credit report.
If you find something that you don’t think should be there, you’ll need to dispute that record on your credit report.
If Your Bankruptcy Is Legit
If that bankruptcy is really yours and the record is accurate, don’t waste your time trying to get it removed. No matter what anyone promises you, it’s not coming off.
That doesn’t mean your credit is ruined forever.
Time Heals All Wounds
A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven to ten years, but its impact on your credit score changes drastically during that time.
Credit scoring models prioritize newer information: creditors want to know what you’re doing now, not what you did years ago.
If you’ve just emerged from bankruptcy, most of your debts have probably been discharged. You have a clean slate to deal with. Your job is to fill it with positive records that will build your credit score as the impact of your bankruptcy fades.
There’s one obstacle to that process: it’s not so easy to get new credit lines when your credit score has been trashed by bankruptcy. Here’s how you can overcome that obstacle.
Become an Authorized User
If you have a friend or family member with good credit, ask them to add you as an authorized user on one of their credit cards. This is a simple process, and you don’t need to use the card or even hold the card.
As long as the issuer reports authorized user activity to the credit bureaus (most major issuers do, but you’ll want to check before getting added), the primary user’s credit history will go on your record. That’s a step in the right direction.
Hook Yourself Up with a Secured Credit Card
There’s only so much that authorized user status can do for your credit. After all, potential creditors will know that you’re not the one using the card. You need to show that you have your financial life under control.
A secured credit card can help.
You’ll put down a deposit, which will become your credit limit. Your deposit protects the card issuer from loss, so issuers are willing to give these cards to people with badly damaged credit, including those with bankruptcy on their record.
To use a secured card to build credit, you’ll need to do two things.
- Make every payment on time
- Keep your credit utilization low
Your credit limit will be low, so keeping credit utilization down is a challenge. One way to do this is to put a single recurring expense – like your internet bill or Netflix account – on the credit card. Set up an automatic payment from your checking account, put the card away, and use cash or a debit card for everything else.
Your card will be active, every payment will be made on time, your credit utilization will stay low, and you’ll never pay a dime in interest.
If you manage a secure credit card effectively, it can make a significant contribution to your credit record. Many issuers will even upgrade you to a regular card if you handle your secured card well.
Quick Tip: Avoid the minimum payment trap! Keep your balance low and pay it off in full every month. Many secured cards carry high interest rates, and you don’t want to back yourself into a corner.
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands With a Credit Builder Loan
Ok, so say you’ve got your secured credit card. Great job!
What else can you do to salvage your credit score post-bankruptcy?
A credit builder loan can help you build a better credit mix and establish a strong payment history.
Here’s how it works:
- You and the lender agree on a loan amount and a term.
- You pay a small deposit to get the ball rolling, and the lender stashes it away for you.
- You make regular monthly payments for the term, and the lender saves up those payments.
- The lender reports your payments to the three credit bureaus.
- When the term is up, and you’ve paid the agreed amount, you get your money back, less any interest or fees.
Most credit builder loans use relatively small amounts, so it’s easy to make on-time payments. You’ll build your payment history, and having an installment loan on your record will improve your credit mix: credit scoring models reward you for having both revolving and installment credit.
Check out this list of top credit builder loans.
Get Credit For Bills You Already Pay
There are multiple services that will report your regular bill payments to the credit bureaus. Not all credit scoring models take these records into account, but they can’t hurt. Check out rent reporting services and utility reporting services like Experian Boost and eCredable Lift.
Don’t try to add too many new credit lines at once. Be sure that you are stable and making payments on time before adding new accounts. Handling your existing accounts well is more important than adding new ones!
Remember that you don’t need to pay to build credit. You can build credit for free!
You can’t snap your fingers and erase a bankruptcy from your credit report.
The impact of that bankruptcy will fade with time, and you can reduce it by adding current accounts and managing them well!