Some people sign up for expensive programs to improve their credit scores, but in most cases, there is absolutely no need for you to do that. Most credit repair can be done by you right at home, free of charge! You just need to understand the credit improvement strategies, and know how to implement them to increase your score.

Most people in search of a better credit rating, resort to hiring a credit counselor primarily because they are overwhelmed with everything and just want someone to take them by the hand and tell them what to do. It can seem easier to turn the reigns over to someone else than having to deal with it all themselves. But while this is totally understandable, it can also be very expensive.

The first thing you need to do to take charge of your credit is to get a copy of your credit reports from all the credit bureaus. If you’re in Canada, get your credit reports from Equifax and TransUnion. If you’re in the U.S. get your reports from Experian, Trans Union, and Equifax.

When you get your reports, scour them with a fine-tooth comb to find any and all mistakes. You might be surprised at all the wrong information that is on your reports. If you find any mistakes contact the credit bureaus immediately, in writing, to have the mistakes corrected. They have 30 days to comply. Make sure that you send along any information that you have that will prove that the item in question is a mistake.

That one single thing can help you to increase your credit score by a dozen, or even, a hundred points in just one month. That is huge!

The next step is to pay all your bills in full on time each month.  If you find that you’ve gotten over-extended and just don’t have enough money  to pay your bill in full every month, you can do one of four things

  1. Identify a strategy to make more money to clear off your bills
  2. Decrease your monthly expenses and spend within your means
  3. Pay your bill more frequently (each time you get paid — don’t wait for the bill due-date) to reduce the amount of interest accrued, and thus decrease your outstanding balance
  4. Talk to your creditors and ask them to lower your interest rate to decrease interest charges until you’re back in the black

In many cases, lenders will agree to lower your interest rate, particularly now with so many people struggling in this bad economy, you simply need to ask. In the short term carrying a balance will still leave a mark on your credit report, but if you employ these strategies, in the long run, they will make it easier for you to get back on track and get things paid off more quickly.

If you just feel lost and want someone to act as your guide through the credit jungle, you can find a counselor to help you out. Just make sure that you carefully investigate all offers before signing up for them. For most people, however, all you need to do is take charge and make a commitment to do it.

The number one credit repair tip is to start right now, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to help. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be able to get all the perks that come with having a great credit score. And whatever money you were paying towards interest can be used to start an emergency fund to reduce your chances of getting into debt again, which inevitably impacts your credit score negatively.