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If you’re like most millennials I know, checking your credit score (or accumulating credit, for that matter) isn’t a priority until it’s absolutely necessary. The downfall to this non-strategy is the sudden realization of poor or no credit when starting a business, buying a car or even applying to rent your next apartment.

I completely understand and sympathize with young adults without their desired incomes that the idea of even owning a credit card sounds like a slippery slope. We’ve all heard the horror stories from our parents or young business owners about the dangers of credit card debt. Sounds like we might as well not even try, right? Wrong.

Good Credit Is Worth Your Time & Effort

Acquiring credit is a step in the right direction for a fruitful future. Even if you slip up, which happens to the best of us, there’s always potential for quick and easy credit repair.

The first order of operations once you’ve slipped into the fiery depths of poor credit is to understand your credit report and where you went wrong. There are dozens of ways to check your credit score online without paying a dime, and without further damaging your credit. Do be sure to read the fine print and double check that this action will not be visible to your credit card company.

If the majority of your credit flaws are late payments, then we’ve found the culprit. In fact, late credit card payments account for 35% of your total credit score. That said, get up-to-date on all payments, and cross your fingers that none are over 180 days late.

Once a late payment has exceeded 180 days, it is now considered a charge-off. This is one of the worst positions one could put their credit score in. Many people in this situation continue to delay these payments as the damage decreases over time, but I assure you that getting caught up on all payments is in your absolute best interest.

Just hearing the words “collections agencies” naturally puts a bad taste in our mouth no matter how good our credit is. This idea that an entire organization has sought out to retrieve past medical bills or whatever it might be is not appealing to anybody no matter your financial status. However, it’s imperative that we jump on these payments promptly.

Having any past debts in collections will make it difficult, is not impossible to get approved for new credit or loans. Knowing that, there are feasible tactics to overcome this financial hardship.

Debt collectors are often willing to soften the blow they have inflicted on your credit score, so use that to your advantage and negotiate strategically. There are too many notable scenarios where debts have been paid off and the poor individual’s credit score had nothing to show for it.

Additionally, if the suggested payments for your outstanding balance are simply unattainable, again, you may negotiate with the debt collectors. Don’t let them rule you and come out on top. Ideally, debt collectors should delete your past debt entirely once paid up, and in many cases even sooner.

The Unfortunate Consequences of Bad Credit

Keep in mind that bad credit affects more than just buying a car or starting business. Have severe credit card debt can make insurance more expensive and even getting a new job unrealistic in many cases. So once you’ve taken care of solving the bulk of your poor credit issues, focus on actually improving your credit score.

Depending on how severe your prior credit issues were, you may be forced to open a new account; there is nothing wrong with a fresh start. As your available credit might not be what it once was, start small and make frequent, timely credit card payments in full. This demonstrates some initiative from your end and credit card companies with surely take notice.

A great way to quickly build credit without jeopardizing your bank account is to break up your credit card payments, and pay twice a month as opposed to once. This sounds petty, but it looks great on paper and does wonders for your credit score.

Suppose your limit is $1,000 and you max it out and pay it off every month. From the credit card company’s perspective, you’ve used 100% of your credit and that’s not great for your credit score even though you’re paying it off. Splitting these payments up will allow you to always have available credit and ultimately improve your credit score.

Wrapping Things Up

Credit is a touchy subject that shouldn’t be avoided. Following these steps will allow you to stay ahead of the curve and live a successful, debt-free future.

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