Filing for bankruptcy is a very tough decision. You've likely reached the point of drowning in debt and creditors phone calls and enough-is-enough, however, you also know the implications of a bankruptcy on file.
You now have to weigh what's worth more. A second chance, or continuing down the same path.
For many, it's filing Chapter 7 (or 11) and starting over, and that's completely understandable.
What most don't realize is that your ability to obtain loans and credit cards isn't closed for 7 - 10 years. You still have great options to rebuild back better and stronger than ever.
To pull this off you're going to need new credit cards, absolute discipline and time. If you find yourself racking up debt, use our credit card debt calculator to estimate a payoff rate based on increasing your monthly payments, lowering your interest (by switching to a 0% intro rate) to pay off sooner.
Read on to see EXACTLY how to go from bankruptcy to 700 credit score in 24 months.
Steps: Bankruptcy to 700 FICO
- Obtain a copy of your credit reports from all three credit reporting agencies (CRA) from www.annualcreditreport.com.
- Carefully review each credit report with a pen and make sure that all accounts included in your bankruptcy are noted as:
- Zero balance
- “Included in bankruptcy”
- Current (not default/derogatory status)
- If any accounts do not meet all the criteria in step 2, file a dispute with each of the CRAs for "Included in Bankruptcy" and "Incorrect Balance". Include a copy of your bankruptcy discharge letter and send the dispute letters via certified mail with a return receipt requested.
- Wait approximately 30 days for the results of your disputes. If any accounts were not updated with the correct information, get the creditor information from your credit report and send a letter to the creditor, including only the account for that creditor. Also, send a "Method of Verification" letter to the CRA along with a copy of the result sheet they mailed you and highlight the questionable accounts.
- Wait another 30 days from the day you receive the receipt.
- If the negative information is still not corrected, gather all the documentation of your disputes and the Method of Verification letter and find a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) attorney in your area. Violations at this point may entitle you to monetary compensation under the law, up to $1,000 per report/violation.
Note: The steps outlined above are designed to help you rebuild your credit after bankruptcy and should be followed with patience and consistency.
Cheating or deviating from the plan can result in a low score and limited credit options.
This plan has been successful for hundreds of individuals, and with persistence, it can work for you too.
- 15 days after receiving the CMRRR receipts, apply for a CreditOne card. You can find the pre-qualification link at http://www.creditonecards.com/.
Do not opt for a secured version of the card. If that's the only option, decline it and look for a secured card from a Credit Union/Bank that you didn't include in your bankruptcy filing and is guaranteed to graduate to an unsecured version in 12 months.
- The day after receiving and activating your CreditOne card, go to a OneNevada Credit Union branch and open a $1000/1-year CREDIT BUILDER loan. If you don't have a savings or checking account with them, you'll need to open one.
If you don't live in Nevada, look for a different credit union or bank that offers a Credit Builder-type product, or a secured installment product named Share, Savings, or Certificate Secured Loans.
- Use your CreditOne card for less than 10% of its balance per month and pay in full as soon as you receive the bill. For example, if your limit is $300, do not charge more than $29 per month.
If there's an activation or processing charge, that's your first month's purchase. Pay in full the day you receive the bill, not the day it's due.
To simplify the process, set up a credit monitoring subscription to use your CreditOne bank card.
- 5 months after activating the CreditOne card, apply for a Capital One card. Go to https://www.capitalone.com/ to pre-qualify and select "average credit" as your credit status.
Get the QuicksilverOne Rewards card for average credit, which has a $39 annual fee. Capital One will enroll you in the Credit Steps program on this card, and you can expect an automatic credit line increase at 5 or 6 months.
- Change your purchasing patterns: use your CreditOne card for a small purchase and pay in full when the bill arrives, just to keep it reporting. Change your MyFICO auto-bill to your CapitalOne card. Charge up to 30% of the CapitalOne card's limit and pay in full when the bill arrives.
- When you receive your Credit Steps credit line increase: do not use your CreditOne card that month. Pay your CapitalOne card down to a $10 balance before the statement cuts.
- 11 months after opening your CreditOne card (6 months after opening the CapitalOne card, after receiving your credit line increase): if you didn't include Discover in your bankruptcy, apply for a DiscoverIT card.
If you did include Discover, apply for the Walmart Discover, which is issued by GE Money Bank.
- When your CreditOne card has a zero balance and is reporting that way, cancel the card to avoid the annual fee. You should have had it for 11 months by this point.
- 12 months after getting your Credit Builder loan, it should be over. Put the cash in savings and go back to the credit union where you got it. If they will let you get a $1000-$2000 unsecured 2-year loan, do that.
If not, get a new Credit Builder loan for $2000 and 2 years.
- 2 months after getting your Discover card, apply for a PenFed PowerCash Rewards Card.
If not IIB, they have been known to give large starting credit limits to consumers post-discharge BK. I’ve seen it as high as $25,000 credit limit!
By following these steps, you should have the following cards in your wallet 12-13 months after your bankruptcy:
- Capital One: After obtaining the Capital One QuicksilverOne Rewards card for Average Credit, ensure you are enrolled in their Credit Steps program and keep track of the auto credit line increase (CLI) that is expected to happen around 5 to 6 months after obtaining the card. Use this card responsibly by charging up to 30% of its limit and always paying in full when the bill arrives.
- Discover: 11 months after obtaining the CreditOne card and 6 months after obtaining the Capital One card, apply for a DiscoverIT card or the Walmart Discover card (if you burned Discover during the bankruptcy) from www.discover.com or http://www.walmart.com/cp/Credit-Cards/632402, respectively. Take the counter-offer that is given to you.
- PenFed Power Cash Rewards: 2 months after obtaining the Discover card, apple for the PF PowerCash Rewards Card.
Continuously monitor your credit score using a credit monitoring service and adjust your purchasing patterns as necessary to keep your credit utilization low and maintain positive credit history.
Within 24 months of regular usage, low utilization & proactive on-time payments you should be at or above a 700 FICO score.
You keep doing what you've been doing and every 6 months, apply credit line increases (CLI's) and test out pre-approvals on sites like
- American Express
- Apple Card
And many others.
However, you need to keep in mind that a 700+ score doesn’t mean the entire world of credit has opened up to you, because as long as that bankruptcy still exists on your public file certain lenders still won’t touch you.
A few examples of companies that don’t issue credit with a BK on file...
This means, post-bankruptcy, cards like Chase Ink and BofA’s Alaska Airlines card are completely off-limits.
The good news, though, is that American Express, about 4 - 5 years post-bankruptcy (and assuming a 680+ FICO) is extremely friendly.
For example, I’ve seen an AMEX Gold approval with a $45,000 limit (it’s a variable soft limit, though. Since it’s a charge card and not a credit card, the amount you can charge at one is subject to change) - which is massive to say the least.
Home loans start opening up as well, though, obviously highly-income dependent. Based on your credit score you can start seeing tier-based rates (excellent, good, fair) just like a non-BK consumer in 4 - 5 years.
And reasonable APR auto loans are available up 24 - 36 months after bankruptcy discharge.
As an example, I’ve heard of Tesla approvals (even through Chase!) for a Model 3 ($54,000) and as far up to a Model X ($116k) at Wells Fargo 5 years after bankruptcy. The bankruptcy is still clearly on your record, but you can still get approved with the right income and the right score.
Ultimately, the type of loans or credit you get all depends on your income and the variabilities within your FICO score, but it’s not only definitely possible to achieve these loans/credit with a 700+ credit score in 24 months, it’s been done by hundreds of people successfully for years.
After all, isn’t America about second chances?