Jeanne Kelly is the author of The 90 Day Credit Challenge. A credit coach and speaker, she became interested in credit after being turned down for a mortgage fifteen years ago. She has since become a recognized authority on credit, and her articles have appeared on numerous websites. We’ve asked her to share insights she’s gleaned from her work with consumers across the country.
Are there common misconceptions about rebuilding your credit that you often hear from readers and clients?
Yes, one of the most common misconceptions is that if you have bad credit that you will always have bad credit. They do not even know they can rebuild it.
What are the most common roadblocks you hear of from those trying to rebuild their credit?
Many times people get discouraged because they apply for credit and get declined. They need to be more savvy in the credit they apply for, such as applying for a secured credit card or loan.
How much can someone improve their credit scores in 90 days? What should they expect?
This is a tricky question as it does depend on what is bringing the score down. If someone is maxed out on credit cards and they lower their balances, then they would see a significant credit score increase. Also, if they keep paying accounts over 30 days late, then once they stop doing that and make sure all accounts are paid on time, they will start seeing the score slowly go up instead of down.
You’ve been helping consumers for over a decade. What’s changed in that time period, and what do you expect to change in the next ten years?
Ten years ago if I spoke to a group and asked them if they knew their credit scores, most people would not even know they had one. Now, not only do they know they have one but they are trying to learn more about credit. I would think in the next ten years consumers will be much better educated about credit reporting and scoring.
Some consumers are ditching their credit cards altogether and paying cash. What do you think of that approach?
I find this to be a huge mistake. I do not think, as a small business owner, I would ever have enough money to pay cash for a home, store front, commercial vehicle and so on. Those big ticket items you normally need require a loan and to get that loan you must keep showing good payment history. As long as you use credit wisely, it is a good thing.
At Nav, we serve small business owners. What do you recommend for them in terms of building and maintaining good credit?
Remember that you may need to use your personal credit as a small business owner, but also try to build business credit. Build credit by using it. Many people don’t need to use credit, but they use it as a tool to build a credit history for when they do need it.