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Filing for bankruptcy may feel discouraging, but it can give you a fresh start. Though it does damage your credit score, it also significantly reduces your outstanding debts, allowing you to rebuild without that financial burden.
It takes time to reach an 800 credit score after bankruptcy, but it’s possible. Here’s what you need to know to accomplish it.
Can You Get an 800 Credit Score After Bankruptcy?
Filing for bankruptcy is one of the most significant setbacks your credit can suffer, but no score is ever so damaged that you can’t repair it. You can rebuild your credit with enough time, discipline, and strategy, even after a bankruptcy case.
Remember, all negative items eventually fall off your credit report, and bankruptcy is no exception. It will remain in your file for no more than seven or ten years, depending on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In addition, credit scoring algorithms like the Fair Isaac Corporation’s (FICO) emphasize recent events more heavily than older ones. As a result, your score should improve long before your bankruptcy case disappears from your file.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know for sure when your credit will recover. It can vary significantly depending on your score before and after bankruptcy, which bankruptcy code chapter you file under, and the effectiveness of your credit repair strategy.
That said, you can expect that it will take at least two or three years to increase your credit score to 800 after a bankruptcy filing. 800 is exceptional and much higher than the average credit score among consumers, which was 714 in 2021.
To have the best chance of reaching your goal, start rebuilding your credit as soon as possible after filing for bankruptcy. If your repair efforts begin immediately, you can get your score into the 700s within a year or two.
Also Read: Credit Score Statistics
How To Rebuild Your Credit Score After a Bankruptcy
To reach an 800 credit score after bankruptcy, you’ll need to take advantage of every opportunity for improvement. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to help optimize your efforts.
Dispute Credit Report Errors
Credit reports contain all the details in your credit history that ultimately determine your credit score. Unfortunately, the three major credit reporting agencies responsible for managing them often make mistakes.
Roughly 34% of consumers have at least one error in their credit reports. Some of these, such as an artificially inflated loan balance, can impact your score.
Fortunately, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives you the right to dispute information in your file that you believe to be inaccurate. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion have portals on their websites that make the process accessible.
Once you submit a dispute with a credit reporting agency, they must contact the creditor who reported the information to resolve the issue.
If the creditor responds within 30 days, the agency will inform you of the results of its investigation. Otherwise, they’ll simply change the information, as you requested.
Get a Credit Builder Loan
Demonstrating to lenders that you can manage installment debt responsibly is essential for building your credit score. However, it’s hard to qualify for a conventional loan after bankruptcy, not to mention expensive.
Fortunately, credit builder loans are accessible to consumers with bad credit scores.
In fact, most credit builder providers don’t check your credit when you sign up for an account. They use your loan proceeds as collateral, so there’s no risk to them if you don’t pay.
Other than being a form of secured debt, a credit builder loan works like a personal loan or student loan. You make monthly payments, and the provider reports them to the three major credit bureaus, building your credit.
Once you’ve paid off your initial principal balance, they’ll release the funds to you, so you’ll finish the process with extra savings and a more established payment history.
CreditStrong is our favorite credit loan provider due to its flexible account options and affordable pricing. You can also cancel anytime without penalty, so the risk is minimal.
Get Revolving Credit Accounts
To repair your credit, you need a diverse mix of new credit accounts after your bankruptcy discharge closes your old accounts. Since revolving accounts are less financially burdensome than installment debts, it’s usually best to double up on them.
Fortunately, dozens of revolving accounts exist to help people with poor credit improve their scores. These typically have low credit requirements but require some form of cash deposit to protect the provider, like a secured credit card.
For example, CreditStrong Revolv and the Self Visa Card are two great options to consider. They don’t require a credit check because you have to pre-fund them before spending, but they still build credit with all three bureaus.
Ideally, you should sign up for two or three of the best credit cards you can get. That increases your credit limit, further diversifies your credit mix, and helps you establish payment history on multiple accounts.
However, you need enough discipline and financial stability to keep your spending within your means. Consider getting credit counseling if you want help learning to manage your credit and budget after bankruptcy.
Make 100% of Payments on Time
Lenders use credit scores to assess the chances that you’ll pay back what you borrow from them. Your previous payment history is the best source of insight they have, so it’s also the most significant factor in your score.
In fact, payment history is worth 35% of your FICO score, meaning it’s as impactful as three of the other five factors combined. As a result, making your monthly payments on time is essential if you want to build good credit.
When you’re juggling multiple bills, it’s a good idea to set up autopay for each account to ensure you never accidentally miss one. Even one late payment can be a red flag to a lender, especially after a bankruptcy.
However, the more significant danger is often the threat of missing payments due to financial instability. Once again, spending within your means is essential for making sure you don’t take on more debt than you can afford to repay.
Keep Credit Utilization Under 10%
Creditors know that a borrower can only borrow so much before they reach the limit of what they can afford. As a result, your level of outstanding debt is worth 30% of your FICO score, making it the second most impactful factor in the algorithm.
However, your total outstanding balance usually isn’t as significant as your credit utilization ratio, which equals your debt divided by your credit limit. That’s a much more meaningful metric since it gives context to your liabilities.
For example, say you have $2,850 in credit card debt on a Capital One card. If the limit on the credit account is $3,000, your utilization ratio is 95%.
That indicates to creditors that you may be in financial distress and relying on debt to make ends meet, which makes you a risky lending prospect.
To avoid sending that signal, try to keep your utilization low. If you keep it below 10%, you’ll receive the highest possible credit score increase.
Monitor Your Credit Score Regularly
Rebuilding your credit score after going to bankruptcy court is a long-term project, and you must find ways to stay disciplined. If you lose focus and fail to make the process a priority, you may hinder your efforts.
One of the best ways to stay motivated is to check your credit score regularly and monitor your progress. That also helps you catch it when something unexpectedly damages your score so you can rectify the issue.
Fortunately, you can always access your credit scores with a free credit score app like Credit Karma or the institutions where you hold credit accounts.
Checking your score with one provider is enough to monitor your progress, but it’s often best to review your rating with all three bureaus to catch any discrepancies.
How Long Does It Take To Rebuild Your Credit After Bankruptcy?
Building credit is a marathon in the best of circumstances, and meaningful progress can take months. It may take even more time in the wake of bankruptcy, as the derogatory mark can linger in your report for a decade if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
However, most consumers rebuild their scores much sooner. Roughly 43% of consumers reach a 640 credit rating within a year, and the percentage goes up to 65% after two years.
Ultimately, there’s no way to know your results until you try, and all you can control is your effort. Just focus on completing the steps above and trusting that you’ll be able to rebuild in time.
Of course, the sooner you take action, the faster your score will recover, so get started today!
Aslo read the rest of the articles from our series:
- How to Change Your Credit Score Illegally
- How to Increase Your Credit Score to 800
- Can You Raise Your Credit Score 100 Points Overnight
Nick Gallo is a Certified Public Accountant and content marketer for the financial industry. He has been an auditor of international companies and a tax strategist for real estate investors. He now writes articles on personal and corporate finance, accounting and tax matters, and entrepreneurship.