Getting negative and inaccurate information off of your credit reports is one of the fastest ways to improve your score. Since credit bureaus have to respond and resolve a dispute within 30 days—a few exceptions can extend this to 45 days—it’s a short timeline. The timeline is particulary important when consumers want to buy a house, get a new car or open up a new credit card and don’t have time to wait to build good credit organically.
There are a lot of reasons that your credit may be in rough shape. Most are related to your spending habits. And, if you missed a few payments or your debt levels are too high—think over 30% of your total available credit limits—disputing errors won’t help you. You’ll have to make some changes to improve your credit scores instead. And you may have to wait a bit to see an uptick.
Of course, if keeping accounts open and having credit available could trigger additional spending and debt, it might be more beneficial to close the accounts. Only you know all the ins and outs of your financial situation, and like thumbprints, they're different for each person. Make sure you carefully evaluate your situation; only you know what can work best for your financial outlook.
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Scoring models consider how much you owe and across how many different accounts. If you have debt across a large number of accounts, it may be beneficial to pay off some of the accounts, if you can. Paying down your debt is the goal of many who've accrued debt in the past, but even after you pay the balance down to zero, consider keeping that account open. Keeping paid-off accounts open can be a plus in your overall credit mix since they're aged accounts in good (paid-off) standing. You may also consider debt consolidation.