Bankruptcy provides substantial debt relief, but it also can have a negative effect on your credit score. Although bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to ten years, your credit won’t be bad for that long. You can take steps to start rebuilding your credit after bankruptcy. This is important since your credit score and credit report can play a big role in renting an apartment, financing a vehicle purchase, or even getting certain types of jobs.
Here's what you can do to speed your credit recovery after bankruptcy.
It may seem counterintuitive, but using credit is how you build credit. When you make payments on debts, your creditors report your payments to the credit reporting agencies. The agencies then list your payment history on your credit report, which shows potential new creditors that you are a responsible debtor.
If you have debts that survived your bankruptcy, such as student loans, car loans, or mortgage loans, you can also use these to rebuild your credit. By making your payments in full and on time on these loans and on any credit you obtain post-bankruptcy, you can increase your credit score and build a positive picture of yourself as a borrower.
If you discharged all your debts in your bankruptcy, you can still obtain new credit. Many creditors will offer credit cards with low limits to those fresh out of bankruptcy. However, use caution; these are often subprime lenders that make these offers, and you will most likely have a very high interest rate and a lot of fees. Another approach is to get a secured credit card, which is a credit card backed by a money deposit. With a secured credit card, your credit limit is the amount of your deposit, although the interest rates and fees can still be very high. For information on how to get new credit, see Next Steps to Rebuilding Credit -- Getting New Credit.
When using credit post-bankruptcy, use it wisely. Do not spend more than you can afford; do not spend up to the limit. Make more than the minimum payment every month. Make your payments on time and pay it off when you can. Irresponsible credit use can have a negative impact on your credit. You want to show that you can pay back your debts as they come due.
You can do this by: