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Repairing Credit

If your credit is damaged, there are steps that you can take to rebuild it.

As you do, your creditworthiness should improve, and that could result in better credit offers and major savings to your wallet.

Credit mistakes do eventually fade into the past.

The impact on your credit score and the time it takes to recover depends partly on how big the mistake was and how recent. Having a clear understanding of the guidelines below can be a step in the right direction. 


To begin, understand that there are no quick fixes to improving your credit.

Your credit report will display a detailed history of your accounts going back up to seven years, and accurate credit information generally cannot be removed from your credit report. 

Pay Bills on Time

Making payments on time to your lenders and creditors is one of the biggest contributing factors to your credit scores. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your FICO Scores should increase. The impact of past credit problems on your score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.

Catch-up on Past Due Bills

If you don’t address the exact cause of your bad credit, the damage is likely to worsen the longer it goes untreated. For example, if you’ve missed a few credit-card payments, repaying at least the minimum amount needed to change your account’s status from “delinquent” to “paid” on your credit reports will prevent your score from falling further.

Gain Control of Your Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio compares the total amount of credit available to you versus the total amount you're using; it contributes 30% to a FICO Score's calculation. Credit utilization is a fluid number, it changes as your credit card balance, and credit limits change. That means you have the ability to lower your high credit utilization, and it will reflect on your credit report (and in your credit score) the next time your credit card issuer reports your balance information. Improve your credit utilization ratio by following these additional tips:

Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit. High outstanding debt can negatively affect a credit score. Most experts recommend going no higher than 30% on any card, and lower is better for your score.

Pay down debt. Reduce your credit card balances by paying more than the minimum each month. Come up with a payment plan that puts most of your payment budget towards the highest interest cards first while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts.

Don't close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your scores. Closing an account doesn't make it go away; a closed account will still show up on your credit report and may be considered when calculating your credit score.

Apply for and open new credit accounts only as needed. Don't open several new credit cards; you don't need to increase your available credit; this approach could backfire and actually lower your credit scores.

If you are having trouble making ends meet, consider contacting a legitimate credit counselor.

This won't rebuild your credit score immediately, but if you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should increase over time. Seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your FICO Scores.

GreenPath Financial Wellness Logo | GP Partners

Certified credit counselors are available to all USSFCU members through our partners at GreenPath. To contact a counselor, call 1.877.337.3399 or visit www.GreenPath.com/ussfcu to learn more.

Additional Learning Resources

How to Rebuild Your Credit

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explains additional things you can do to rebuild your credit.

How to Rebuild Your Credit

Coping with Debt

Recommendations for handling debt from the Federal Trade Commission.

Coping with Debt

Understanding Your Score

Tips and information on improving your credit score from our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness. 

Improving Your Score

Debt Management

Learn how much debt is too much and what strategies you can use to pay it off with this short, interactive learning lesson from USSFCU's Best Life Learning Center.

Begin Lesson

The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. We do not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of third-party information.

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