New Credit After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
This post is written specifically for those who’ve recently been granted a Discharge from a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Chapter 7 is type of bankruptcy where the debtor does not make periodic payments to a bankruptcy trustee for 3 to 5 years.
The first step is to establish new credit in a strategic manner. Of course, you must also use your new credit in a responsible manner. In some cases, it is necessary to get your credit reports corrected to establish new credit. We’ll address both steps below.
First, when establishing new credit. Ignore well-meaning advice to get a $300/500 secured credit card from just any bank that will open an account for you. Start with joining a credit union. With most credit unions, there are no fees. Also, there are no annual fees and no-cost to use many ATMs all over the USA. Take a moment and read my post on credit unions.
In searching for the credit union (CU) to be the fit, do your homework. Call or stop in and ask about secured credit cards (this will lead you to someone that can answer or can get answers to your questions).
Now that you have found your CU, open your Share (savings) account. Save $1,000.00 or more. Secure this savings against a Visa or MasterCard issued by your credit union. To build good and excellent credit scores, use no more than 20% of your credit limit. Ever. For example, on your $1,000.00 credit limit, never have more than $200.00 in use. For best results, payoff the balance monthly. Your higher credit scores get you rewarded with lower interest rates on home and auto loans, insurance, credit cards and better employment opportunities.
Most credit unions will offer an unsecured card after you have established your good credit management practices for one-year. At this time, your savings securing your card will be released and another card issued. Your credit history will follow the new account.
Next, open 2 or 3 lower limit credit card or other revolving accounts (department stores, Internet stores, gas cards, etc.). The key is to have 3 to 4 revolving accounts open and in use occasionally. Do know that credit is a use it or lose it commodity.
On selecting the credit accounts, don’t bother applying to any creditors which were listed in your bankruptcy. Perform a Google Search such as this: “secured credit card + bankruptcy”. In your screening process, avoid those with an annual fee.
After about 9-12 months of opening the accounts as above discussed and using them as above discussed, you should have actual lending scores (FICO® Scores) in the 700-720 range. These techniques have helped many clients over several decades.
Not everyone will need to take step two. All should read the info in step two.
In order to build new credit after bankruptcy, you may need to get corrections made to one or more of your three credit reports to reflect only accurate information. By accurate information what we mean is to make sure that all your bankrupted accounts reflect a zero-balance due.
Understand that a bankruptcy discharge does not remove your previous credit history from your credit reports. Time does. Seven years from the date of last activity (last use or last payment), the account will be removed from your credit report.
Keep in mind that the older a negative item on your credit report is the less it counts against your credit score. Also, the longer you have information reporting on your credit report, the better it counts for your credit history which results in a better credit score.
As a rule of thumb, by the time the case is Discharged, several months following the filing of the bankruptcy case, most creditors will have reported the accounts as included in bankruptcy. In some instances, a creditor fails to update their record with the credit reporting agencies (CRA).
So, in these instances, let’s talk about getting the incorrect items corrected. Often, the dispute process is neither quick or easy. Understand the CRAs are not your friends. Use caution with what you say or write to a CRA. For specifics on how to dispute information on your credit reports, I suggest you read my blog titled: Credit Repair/Dispute Basics.
A word on entering comments to clarify some situation or another; such comments do not do anything positive for your credit scores or your credit history. It is of no benefit to you to make comments. Everything you say can and will be used against you. This is one of those times to consider the Miranda Warning along with the idiom less is more. When and only if necessary, you may address individual items as requested by your loan officer for an underwriter. Open or unresolved disputes on your credit report(s) can keep you from gaining credit approval.
To begin correcting your reports, you need to get a copy of each of your credit reports. There are three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can get a copy of your three credit reports once a year for free via the Official Site authorized by Federal law: http://www.annualcreditreport.com. It does you no good to only review one or two reports. Review all three of them annually.
For mortgage approval (purchase or refinance), two (2) years following your Discharge, you will be eligible to apply for an FHA, VA or Rural mortgage loan. Four (4) years following your Discharge, you will be eligible to apply for a conventional mortgage loan.
Contact me below or via Quora with specific questions.