This is the fourth blog in a 4 part blog series about how to rebuild your credit. When you accumulate too much debt or have too many credit products, this can harm your credit. Credit card companies are aggressive, using marketing points programs, promotion and incentives to entice consumers to take out a credit card. Over time, it is not difficult to find yourself with several different credit cards with balances that are accumulating interest.
If you want to know how to rebuild credit and you have several credit cards, your first step will be to close some of them. Some financial advisors will tell you that closing credit cards will actually harm your credit, when in fact in the long run getting rid of credit cards will increase your credit score. Having one or two credit cards is sufficient to have good credit so if you have more than that, closing some of them is a good idea. How you go about closing credit cards is the key.
Firstly, closing all of your credit cards is not a great idea unless it is part of an overall plan to settle out your debt, and then taking out a single card to rebuild your credit. Simply closing down all of your credit cards without a plan to have a credit item to rebuild credit will reduce your credit score. If you have accumulated a lot of credit card debt and are working with a company to get rid of your debt with a plan to rebuild, then naturally it will involve wiping the slate clean (clearing and closing all credit card debt) and then starting fresh. In the absence of a financial plan to rebuild, closing all of your credit cards may reduce your credit score because you will not have credit reporting to your credit report. This is necessary to build your credit score because it shows new potential creditors, mortgage providers for example, how you pay your monthly obligations.
Also, do not close out credit cards that have balances. If there are balances on credit cards you should first deal with the balances either by paying them off, settling them, or including them in a financial program to get out of debt. Once the balances are cleared, you can go ahead and close out the card. If you close cards when you have balances the result will be a credit card that has a balance and a zero credit limit and this will have the same negative impact on your credit report as if you have a credit card that is maxed out (see part three “Credit Balances That Are At, Close to or Over” in our four part blog series How to Rebuild your Credit).
Additionally, if you plan to close out your credit cards make sure you write to the credit card provider clearly indicating that it is you who wants to close out the credit card balance. When a creditor closes your credit card they can report one of two things to the credit bureau: “credit limit closed by consumer” or “credit limit closed by credit grantor” – you do not want the latter reported on your credit report. Sending a letter will enable you to prove to Equifax that you in fact closed the card in the event that the credit does not report who closed the card accurately.
This may all seem like good advice, but if you are drowning in credit card debt, closing credit cards right now is not really an option without a financial plan. Learning how to rebuild your credit takes time, as does dealing with accumulated credit card debt. There are fast and effective methods to deal with debt and start rebuilding your credit, but in most cases they will involve the assistance of a financial professional who can guide you out of your debt with a plan.
If you would like more information about how to rebuild your credit or if you are in debt and need some guidance, please call DebtCare at 416-907-2582 or visit www.debtcare.ca.