Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit

If your credit score is low, you may have a difficult time opening a checking account.

Millions of Americans go without a basic checking account, resorting to pre-paid debit cards and check cashing businesses because their bad credit is holding them back.

But a bank account is a critical part of a strong financial plan, one that can help you on your path to improving your credit.

Whether you’re worried about your approval odds or you’ve been denied by your local bank, a checking account for bad credit could be the answer to your problems.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best checking accounts for bad credit.

10 Best Checking Accounts for Bad Credit

  1. BBVA
  2. GoBank Online Checking
  3. Bank of America
  4. Wells Fargo
  5. First American Bank
  6. Radius Bank
  7. FifthThird Express Banking
  8. Aspire Federal Credit Union
  9. Chime
  10. Axos

1. BBVA

BBVA is one of the biggest names in the banking business, with physical branches in several states and online banking available as well.

When you bank with BBVA, you can rest assured you’re entrusting your funds to one of the nation’s largest and most reliable banks.

BBVA’s Second Chance Checking Account is hard to beat, with minimal account requirements and full banking services.

Key Details

  • Visa debit card
  • Unlimited checks and mobile deposits
  • Cashback rewards
  • Full-service online banking
  • No credit checks for new accounts
  • No ATM fees at participating ATMs
  • $25 minimum initial deposit
  • Budgeting tools

Just note that this account comes with a monthly fee of $13.95 for the first year, after which time you can upgrade to a regular checking account.

You could also be charged for insufficient funds and returned deposits.

Learn More at BBVA

2. GoBank Online Checking

Second on the list is GoBank, a mobile banking service offered by Green Dot Bank.

GoBank isn’t concerned with your credit history, so they don’t check your credit report or ChexSystems.

As a fully online bank, GoBank does not have any brick and mortar branches, but it does have a large network of fee-free ATMs.

Key Details

  • A debit card
  • Free cash withdrawal from 42,000+ ATMs in-network
  • Mobile banking services
  • Waiver of minimum deposit when you open your account online
  • No overdraft fees
  • In-person deposits at Walmart and 7-11 with $4.95 fee
  • $8.95 monthly fee – waived with minimum of $500 in monthly deposits

3. Bank of America

Another bank with major brand-name familiarity, Bank of America provides people with subpar credit the opportunity to open a checking account.

The SafeBalance Banking® Account is designed with second-chance checking in mind.

You don’t have to worry about overdrafting from the account, as Bank of America automatically declines charges that exceed your account balance.

While you can’t write physical checks, you get a number of benefits from a name you can trust, one with local branches nationwide.

Key Details

  • Large ATM network with fee-free transactions
  • $2.50 transaction fee at non-participating ATMs
  • Mobile deposits
  • No overdraft fees
  • Same-day transfers
  • $100 minimum to open the account
  • $4.95 monthly fee

4. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is yet another major bank offering checking account services to individuals with bad credit.

You don’t have to worry about being declined based on your credit history with the Clear Access Banking Account from Wells Fargo.

The Clear Access Banking account provides you with full-service banking resources.

Key Features

  • Free transfers between your Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts
  • No Overdraft of NSF fees
  • No check writing ability
  • 13,000 ATMs with free withdrawals nationwide
  • Upgrade to a standard checking account after 12 months
  • $25 minimum to open the account
  • $5 monthly fee (waived for account owners between the ages of 13-24)

5. First American Bank

Another solid choice for a checking account with bad credit is First American Bank.

If you live outside of Florida, Illinois, or Wisconsin, you may be unfamiliar with the bank, but it offers online banking across the nation.

You can start your journey to improving your finances with First American’s Fresh Start Checking Account and all of its advantageous features.

Key Features

  • Mastercard® Debit Card
  • Mobile, online, and phone banking
  • Paperless statements
  • 55,000 ATMs nationwide with free withdrawals
  • Limitless check writing
  • $9.95 monthly fee
  • $50 minimum to open the account

6. Radius Bank

Radius Bank is another great option for bankers with bad credit, who are eligible for its Essential Checking account.

The online bank excels in the technology department, with user-friendly online tools designed to help you get your budget in order and keep it on track.

If you’re looking for more than just basic checking account services, Radius Bank and its Financial Dashboard is your go-to.

Key Features

  • Mobile bill payments and deposits with $1k daily deposit limit
  • Paper checks
  • Debit card with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay functionality
  • No minimum required to open the account
  • $500 daily limit on debit card purchases
  • $5 overdraft fee
  • $9.00 monthly service charge
  • Eligibility for upgrade to Rewards Checking after 1 year

7. Fifth Third Express Banking

Fifth Third is an established bank that makes checking accounts with bad credit simple.

Fifth Third Express Banking® is a great option if you’re looking for a no-frills account with minimum requirements.

Though the account comes with some limited features, it also has minimal fees and restrictions.

Key Features

  • No credit requirements
  • No overdraft fees
  • Zero monthly fees or minimum balance requirement
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile/online banking
  • No check deposits or cashing at ATMs
  • Option to deposit at local Fifth Third branches

8. Aspire Federal Credit Union

Aspire Federal Credit Union is a unique option for applicants who’ve struggled to get approved elsewhere due to bad credit.

Aptly named, their Fresh Start Checking Account helps you to build credibility in your money management.

To join Aspire, you simply need to make a donation to one of the credit union’s partnering nonprofits.

Key Features

  • Debit card
  • Requires 100% direct deposit each paycheck
  • Fraudulent-free record
  • Zero monthly fees
  • Online account management
  • 70,000+ fee-free ATMs in network

9. Chime

Chime is an up-and-coming fully online bank with services designed for individuals without great credit.

The FDIC-insured online bank has everything you need, with hardly any requirements or penalties tied to its accounts.

The bank’s app has amassed an impressive amount of perfect reviews, suggesting it provides a convenient and navigable experience for account holders.

Key Features

  • No ChexSystem review
  • No minimum payment to open an account, or monthly minimums
  • Zero monthly fees, period
  • Mobile deposits and transfers
  • Direct deposits for paychecks
  • $2.50 fee on ATMs outside Chime’s network

10. Axos

Rounding out the list of the best checking accounts for poor credit is Axos. Axos has been thriving in the online-only banking work since its inception in 2000.

You can find a few physical locations in California, but the bank is mostly digital.

Axos provides several checking account options, including a rewarding second chance checking account.

Key Features

  • Mobile banking
  • Second chance savings accounts available
  • Overdraft protection at an additional cost
  • $50 minimum to open the account
  • $6.95 monthly fee, subject to increase to $8.95
  • $310 withdrawal limit per ATM transaction

(all costs and fees updated as of 1/15/21)

What Is a Checking Account for Bad Credit?

Banks are quick to deny people with poor credit from getting a checking account.

While some institutions judge people harshly based on their credit history, others are more understanding and have specifically created checking accounts for bad credit.

Though these accounts may come with some fees and limitations, they waive the credit checks banks usually put applicants through.

In most cases, they offer the tools you need to successfully manage your finances, such as debit cards, ATM access, mobile deposits, and online banking.

At any rate, they’re far more beneficial than relying on prepaid cards and cashier’s checks.

Benefits of a Checking Account with Bad Credit

An online checking account can open so many doors, and it’s all but essential in today’s economy.

As more and more retailers and service providers move online, the need for an online account grows ever more important.

Without a bank account, paying bills can be a challenge, as can making deposits and transferring funds.

You might also have a difficult time getting approved for an auto loan or a mortgage, which can severely impact your future.

In addition to its essential functions, a bank account adds convenience to your life.

It streamlines simple tasks and allows you to easily track and manage your budget. Even if you have bad credit, a checking account is well worth pursuing.

How to Get Approved for a Checking Account with Bad Credit

Despite what you might believe based on past experiences, a poor credit score doesn’t make you ineligible for a checking account.

The steps below can help you to lock in a checking account, along with all of its advantages, from a great bank.

Check the bank’s credit requirements.

As you can see from the list above, not all banks check your credit or your history with banking in their screening process.

If you’re worried your low score or track record of overdrafts might hurt your approval odds, look for a bank that doesn’t use ChexSystems to screen applicants.

Study your report and dispute errors.

You can get a free copy of your ChexSystems report annually, and you should. A simple error could be all that’s standing between you and a bank account.

Likewise, a small unpaid service fee can do a lot of damage. Look into settling your unpaid fees and disputing errors to improve your chances.

Opt for a second chance bank account.

Bank accounts for bad credit may come with a small additional monthly fee, but it’s well worth it for the benefits.

If your credit score is holding you back and there’s no working around it, one of these accounts can give you the fresh start you need.

Consider a prepaid debit card.

While they don’t come with nearly as many benefits as a checking account, prepaid debit cards are another viable solution for applicants with poor credit.

They don’t require you to undergo a credit check and essentially work like regular debit cards once you load them with funds.

Just note that these cards often come with hidden fees and don’t include any of the banking features an account would.

What to Look for in a Checking Account for Bad Credit

Ready to start shopping?

Not all bank accounts are created equally. Keep the following criteria in mind as you sift through all of your second chance checking account options.

Minimal Fees

As rewarding as checking accounts for bad credit are, it’s hard to completely escape fees.

The majority of accounts will come with a small maintenance fee each month, though Chime and some others do not.

Some banks are willing to waive their service fees if you keep a minimum balance or regularly deposit a certain amount.

Low Minimum Balance

As you can see from the list of banks above, many of them require you to deposit a minimum amount to open your account.

What you may not realize is that the minimum amount required to open your account is often expected to be in your account at all times.

If your balance dips below that number, you could be slapped with a fee.

As you shop around, look for banks that have little or no minimum balance or associated fees.

Banking Services

Just because your credit score is low, you shouldn’t be stuck without access to basic banking features.

Look at each bank account’s benefits, namely the services that are free of charge.

You can keep your eye out for perks like:

  • ATM access
  • Debit card
  • Limitless checks
  • Local branches
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile banking app
  • Paperless statements

While not all of the services above are necessary for a positive banking experience (like access to a local branch), others are.

Consider the benefits above, decide which ones matter to you most, and look for an account that offers them.

Is a Checking Account for Bad Credit Best for You?

Your credit history shouldn’t hinder your access to essential banking services.

A bank account for bad credit can grant you access to a world of convenient features and money management tools.

As you work to rebuild your credit, getting approved for a bank account should be the least of your worries.

Evaluate the features of the checking accounts above, find the one that best suits your needs, and take the first step by applying for an account today.

You can say goodbye to preloading debit cards and waiting on check-cashing services and say hello to hassle-free banking.

money management strategies

How To Manage Your Money

Financial independence starts with margin. That’s the extra breathing room you have in your budget that keeps you from panicking about money.

But in a sad statistic, Go Banking Rates reports that 58% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. If you’re in that category, and you don’t want to be, you can get out of it.

But it all comes down to learning the fine art of how to manage your money.

Since managing your money has so many moving parts, we’re laying out a roadmap in this article to help you master money management.

With greater knowledge and a willingness to commit to the strategies below, how to manage your money may not seem so mysterious anymore.

Table of Contents:

  • Determine Your Starting Point
  • Make Money
  • Budgeting
  • Save Money
  • Invest
  • Get Out of Debt
  • Don’t Give Up!

Determine Your Starting Point for Managing Your Money

Here’s an equation that’s the foundation of how to manage your money:

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

Accountants use it to calculate the net worth of businesses, but it also applies to individuals. You’ll need to be aware of your own personal net worth if you’re serious about how to manage money.

Example of Calculating Your Net Worth

Your personal assets include your:

  • bank account ($5,000)
  • house ($200,000)
  • retirement account ($25,000)

Adding all three numbers together, your total assets are $230,000.

But you also have liabilities that include:

  • mortgage ($180,000)
  • car loan ($10,000)
  • credit cards totaling $5,000

Your total liabilities are $195,000.

Your financial situation looks like this:

Assets ($230,000) – Liabilities ($195,000) = Net Worth ($35,000)

Net worth is probably the single most important number in your financial life. It indicates your overall financial position. It should be a positive number. The larger it is, the stronger your overall financial position.

However, it’s often negative. The more negative it is, the worse your financial situation is.

Before you can become better at managing money, you’ll need to start with determining your net worth. To do that accurately, you’ll need to use actual numbers. This is because some people cheat by using “ballpark numbers”, that inflate assets and underestimate liabilities.

Make a list of all your assets, assigning a reasonable value to each. Then list your liabilities. This is best done by taking the latest debt numbers on any loans you owe. Don’t leave any out either!

Once you total up your assets and liabilities, subtract the liabilities from your assets, to get your net worth. That’ll tell you exactly where you’re at financially.

If you don’t like the number you see, or any specific components, prepare to implement each of the following five strategies.

money management strategies

1. Make Money: The Most Critical Step

Before you can learn how to manage money, you’ll first need to earn enough to manage. Barely getting by is sometimes a necessary part of life. But in order to move forward, you’ll need to earn more.

Unfortunately, while budgeting can help, if you’re not earning enough to cover your bills and save and invest for the future, your progress will be very limited. That will need to change.

If you’re finding your current income is insufficient to pay your bills – with extra available to pay off debts and save money – your first challenges can be to increase your income.

Here are a few ideas on how you could increase your income to help you in your next steps of managing your money.

Increase Your Income At Work

Never overlook the obvious when it comes to making money. Look for opportunities to increase your income at work. That can include taking on overtime, participating in bonus programs, and even looking into any commission opportunities available.

For example, your employer may have programs in place where you’ll be paid bonuses or commissions for referring new employees or new customers. If so, take full advantage of both.

Side Hustle

The other option is to create a second income. That can be a part-time job, but you should also consider developing a side hustle. That doesn’t need to be anything complicated either.

Think about what skills you have, either from your job or your personal life, that you can offer to either small businesses or to the general public to generate extra income.

They can be basic skills, like babysitting or lawn cutting, or it can be more specific skills, like web design, graphic arts, writing, editing, or becoming a virtual assistant.

Once you develop a second income, be certain the money is dedicated to either paying off debt or filling your savings account. It should never be used to increase spending.

2. How to Manage Money through Budgeting

If you’re serious about how to manage your money, you’ll need to create and work within a budget. Budgeting is simple in concept, but much more difficult in the execution.

The most fundamental idea is to rearrange your finances so that you live beneath your means.

For example, if your net income is $4,000 per month, you’ll implement a budget that will enable you to live on $3,500, or even less. That will give you the extra breathing room to pay off debt or save money. And that’s the whole purpose of a budget.

How to Start a Budget

Start by making a list of all your regular monthly expenses. Then track all expenses for the past several months.

That will accomplish two goals:

  1. It will show you exactly where your money goes, and
  2. Help you determine which expenses need to be either reduced or eliminated.

#2 is particularly important. How effective you are at this step will determine how strong your budget is.

If you’ve never had a budget in the past, it can be a difficult transition – almost like going on a diet. You may need help, and fortunately, you can get that help – often free of charge.

For example, there are free budgeting apps available through Personal Capital, Mint and Trim. You can aggregate all your financial accounts on these apps, and they’ll show you your entire financial picture on a single screenshot.

That will give you a visual representation of where your money is coming from, where it goes, and how you can reallocate it toward better money management. The app won’t redirect your money for you – you’ll have to do that yourself. But it will show you where to do it.

3. Save Money: It’s Not How Much You Make, It’s How Much You Save

This is critical to any attempt at improving your finances. The most basic benefit of savings is that it creates breathing room in your financial life.

For example, let’s say you get an unexpected car repair bill of $1,000. If you only have $200 in your bank account, you’ll probably panic. But if you have $10,000 in savings, the bill may be annoying, but it won’t threaten your lifestyle. Put another way, savings open up a lot more options in your finances.

That’s why savings are important.

Savings Goals

You should have three primary savings goals:

  1. Emergency Fund: This is your most basic savings. Ideally, you’ll accumulate enough in this account to cover at least three month’s living expenses. It should be doing nothing more than sitting in a safe savings account, earning interest, and waiting for an emergency.
  2. Goal Based Savings: This is a type of savings tied to specific spending goals. They’re usually intermediate in nature, say two years, three years, or five years into the future. Goals can include saving for a vacation, the down payment on a new car, or replacing your roof.
  3. Long-Term Savings: The main savings type here is retirement. You should begin funding a retirement plan as soon as possible, to take advantage of compound investment earnings. You’ll usually get a tax deduction for contributions, as well as tax deferral of earnings. You should take advantage of both to the greatest degree possible.The best way to fund any savings plan is automatically. You can use payroll deductions to fund all three of the above account types. This is another reason why it’s important to make extra room in your budget through some type of budgeting plan.

4. Invest Your Money: The Key to Managing Money for Your Future

Savings are of course integral to better managing money and you wish that they would teach a great savings strategy in college! But it’s not enough to simply save money in a low interest savings account. That’s certainly fine when it comes to an emergency fund, or even goal-based savings accounts.

But for longer-term savings, particularly retirement accounts, you’ll need to invest your money to make it grow. The combination of regular contributions and steady investment earnings are how people become retirement millionaires.

For most people who know little about investing, the best way to do it is through index funds. These are something like mutual funds, except they’re based on popular investment indexes (markets), and carry much lower investment fees.

For example, you can invest in an index fund that’s based on the S&P 500 index. That index represents the 500 largest publicly traded corporations in the US. It will give you exposure to most industries in the economy. That’s an excellent place to start, because the S&P 500 index has returned about 10% per year on average going all the way back to 1926!

Some of the most popular index funds are available through Vanguard and iShares. You can invest in these funds through popular brokerage accounts, like Fidelity and Charles Schwab, two of the biggest brokerage firms in the industry.

The sooner you begin investing money, the more quickly your savings will grow. You should start as soon as you have some money available to do so.

5. Develop a Plan to Get Out of Debt

This strategy will depend on what your current debt situation is. If you have a lot of consumer debt, particularly credit cards, you’ll want to pay them off as soon as possible. The high interest rates they carry make them too expensive to maintain effective money management.

If you have student loan debt, you’ll want to eliminate that as soon as possible as well. It’s unsecured debt, and very long-term in nature. That means it can haunt you for years.

Auto loans and mortgages can also be worth paying off. But since each loan also provides you with a tangible benefit – a car and a house – paying them off may be less of a priority.

As you increase your income and improve your budget, you should allocate some of the additional room in your budget toward debt pay off. Since you also need to save money, you’ll need to find a workable balance.

Debt Snowball Method

There’s no need to engage in a crash pay off strategy. Just increase your monthly payment on each debt you want to pay off. Then be consistent in making those higher payments, and be patient about the process. Work to pay off your smallest debt first, then go after the next smallest. This is referred to as the debt snowball method made popular by Dave Ramsey.

While you’re working to pay off your debts, you should also pay close attention to your credit. That includes monitoring credit activity and regularly checking your credit score. Not only will that help you to avoid fraudulent use of your credit, but it can also help to improve your credit score. Higher credit scores mean lower interest rates and greater likelihood of loan approval. Take advantage of one of the many credit monitoring services available to help you in this effort.

Fortunately, as you pay your debts down, your credit scores should gradually increase. But knowing what’s in your credit will give you an opportunity to do what’s necessary to correct any errors and avoid future problems.

The Final Step: Never Give Up!

When it comes to managing your money, this is both the easiest and hardest step. It’s the easiest because it’s not a specific strategy you need to implement. But it’s the hardest because it requires a long-term commitment.

How to manage your money better isn’t a one-time event – it’s ongoing. It’s even permanent! It’s one of those efforts that fits neatly within the saying it’s not a destination, but a journey. While a short-term effort may improve your financial situation a bit, only a long-term commitment can move you toward financial independence.

It can help if you can list your goals – the reasons why financial independence is desirable. Think of it as a mission statement, and display it in one or more places where you’re likely to see it every day. It will serve to reinforce the reasons why you need to become better at managing your money.

In a real way, managing your money is a kind of psychological warfare – against yourself. To make long-term changes, the kind that are necessary to reach financial independence, you’ll have to change your mindset. Focusing on the end goals – the benefits of financial independence – are one of the best ways to get across that elusive finish line.

Money management requires both discipline and sacrifice. You’ll need to find ways to motivate yourself during the process. Creating and frequently referring to your mission statement will help keep you on track.

By constantly reminding yourself of why you need to better manage money, you’ll dramatically increase the chance of succeeding with all the various strategies required.

Renting With Bad Credit

Bad credit can cause problems when you’re trying to rent an apartment, condo, or house.

But your bad credit score doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for every potential landlord or property manager you meet.

In fact, I’ll describe four techniques below that will help you rent even if your credit history is less than desirable.

Why Your Credit Score Matters When Renting

Most people know bad credit can make getting a mortgage to buy a house difficult.

But bad or poor credit can also cause problems with rental applications.

Most potential landlords will pull your credit report, especially when you’re applying at an apartment complex or with a large property management company.

Having a couple of blemishes on your credit report shouldn’t be an issue.

A late payment, a maxed-out credit card, or several hard credit checks may pull down your score, but they shouldn’t scare off a landlord.

But if you have multiple late payments, collection accounts, or charge offs, your potential landlord may pull the plug on your rental application or charge a higher security deposit.

How to Explain a Poor Credit Score

Even if the credit check creates a problem, don’t give up right away.

It’s possible that the landlord will just ask for more information about your credit problems.

This can be an uncomfortable conversation, but you’re actually in pretty good shape at this point.

If the property manager had no intention of signing a lease, he or she wouldn’t be talking to you.

So take advantage of this opportunity to explain your payment history problems and what you’ve done to fix them.

For example, you may have been out of work a month because of health problems which meant you missed your credit card payment or got behind on your student loans.

Be honest about your challenges but also accept responsibility. Don’t blame someone or something else for your personal finance problems.

What if Your Explanation Isn’t Enough?

Sometimes, explaining your low credit score isn’t enough to satisfy a potential landlord — especially when you’re dealing with a larger property management company or apartment complex.

These companies often have strict rental requirements, which include a certain credit score threshold. Making an exception for you could upset the property owners.

In this case, you could look for an individual landlord rather than a large apartment complex.

A property owner who rents out a single house or two may be less likely to run a credit check.

You may be able to find such a rental property on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or by driving around looking for “For Rent” signs in yards.

Even if this potential landlord ran a credit check, you could explain that you now have a steady income that allows you to afford the monthly rent.

This works even better when you’re willing to show a bank account statement or pay stubs as proof of income.

Strategies for Renters with Bad Credit

Large apartment complexes and property managers often require a specific credit score to sign a lease.

If your credit doesn’t measure up, you may still get in the door if you can provide some of the following:

1. A Reference Letter From a Previous Landlord

A personal reference from a previous landlord or two could help you finalize a lease even if you have poor credit.

If possible, ask your former landlords to write letters of recommendation stating that you were a good tenant and made your rent payments on time and in full.

As long as it’s a recent landlord, these reference letters can help a lot.

However, if you don’t have any previous rental history, or you are unable to get a letter because you were either late on your rent payments or even have an eviction on your record, this isn’t an option.

In this case, continue to the next step.

2. A Larger Security Deposit

Most property managers require a security deposit when you rent. This deposit protects the property owner in case you break the lease agreement.

It’s traditional for landlords to charge the first and last month’s rent upfront.

So if you’re credit challenged, you could offer to pay an additional month’s rent upfront to see if the property manager is willing to negotiate.

Keep in mind you will need to actually pay this money upfront. So don’t agree to a plan you can’t afford.

Also, even if you can afford this strategy, remember the property manager will keep this money while you’re under lease.

If you don’t trust the potential landlord to return your money at the end of your lease, you may want to use the next strategy.

3. A Co-Signer to Take Financial Responsibility

The easiest way to get a rental when you have bad credit is to have a friend or family member (who has good credit) to co-sign the lease with you.

This strategy works especially well with larger property management companies that have automated applications.

A co-signer becomes the guarantor who takes financial responsibility for the account.

That said, it’s not unheard of for an individual landlord to accept a co-signer, too.

But be careful when approaching friends and family about co-signing on a lease.

Even if they are willing, be aware they’re putting their own financial stability on the line to help you.

You could strain a relationship or lose a friend if something went wrong.

Even after co-signing, try to improve your credit score so you can sign a new lease on your own.

4. An Improved Your Credit Score

The three strategies above offer ways around a poor credit score when you’re trying to rent.

But only improving your credit score will solve the actual problem — and it can be a permanent solution that helps you elsewhere in life, too.

With a good credit score you won’t have to deal with these problems next time you need a new apartment.

Plus, you can qualify for a mortgage so you can own real estate and stop renting. Or even better: You can become the landlord!

How to Improve Your Credit Score Before Renting

Most people think improving their credit score takes years. Sometimes this is true, especially if you’ve experienced bankruptcy, overwhelming medical bills, or collection accounts.

But if you have a few months before you need to rent a new apartment, you may still have time to improve your credit score.

Here’s how:

Get Your Free Credit Reports

The three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — have to provide you one free credit report per year.

You can visit annualcreditreport.com to get your reports.

Seeing your credit reports will help you know where to get started. Look for late-payments and high credit use rates.

But also look for inaccurate data from lenders.

Get a Free Copy of Your Credit Report

Where to Improve Your FICO Score

Knowing how your FICO credit score is built will also give you a place to start:

  • Payment History: Making on-time payments will help improve 35% of your FICO. If possible, set up automatic payments to reduce the chances of forgetting a payment.
  • Credit Utilization: Using less of your available credit can increase 30% of your FICO score. Try to pay down your credit card balances to 25% of their credit limits. Keep some paid-off accounts open to improve your credit utilization rate.
  • Other Factors: Trying to keep a longer credit history (15%), maintaining a mix of credit types (10%), and limiting new hard credit checks (10%) will also help.

Correcting Inaccurate Information

Improving your FICO by improving your habits can take a few months to a few years. But if you have inaccurate information on your credit reports, you can improve your score in weeks by removing this bad information.

I’ve already written extensively on how to remove negative items from your credit report. I’ve also gone into what you should do after you have removed negative items in order to start rebuilding your credit.

Everything you need to get going with credit improvement can be found in this article.

Hiring Professional Help

Professional credit repair companies like Sky Blue and Credit Saint can remove inaccurate data from your credit report for you.

You’ll have to pay a subscription fee for the months you use a professional service. But the fees will be worth it if you see a significant increase in your credit score.

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How I Get 15% Off Most of My Amazon Purchases

I spend a ridiculous amount of money on Amazon.

In fact, I’ll oftentimes use the free two-day shipping with my Prime membership to order something rather than drive across town to pick it up.

It’s not just because it’s usually cheaper, but because it’s just so much easier.

Get 15% Off at Amazon

To make things even sweeter, I’ve found a way to literally get 15% off of dozens of items I buy on a monthly basis.

Amazon offers a service called Subscribe & Save. The way it works is pretty simple.

How Amazon Subscribe and Save Works

You basically pick out at least 5 items that you buy every 1 – 6 months.

For example, paper towels are something everybody needs.

Then you select how often you want to receive the item, which can be every month or up to every six months.

You have to subscribe to at least 5 items in order to get the 15% discount, but you can definitely order more than 5 like I do.

You can browse the list of Subscribe & Save products on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Page.

When you’re ready to subscribe to a product, you simply select Subscribe & Save when you go to add it to your cart.

Check out the image below:

subscribe-and-save

Products I Buy with Amazon Subscribe & Save

  • Paper Towels & Toilet Paper
  • Trash Bags
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Toothpaste & Mouthwash
  • Bottled Water
  • Dog & Cat Food
  • Kind Bars
  • Dishwasher Soap
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

I subscribe to a total of 12 items on a monthly basis.

I could probably add more but I’m still working on gathering the list as new things come up.

These items, without the discount, a total of $358.25.

With the discount, the total is $304.51, or a savings of about $50 per month.

To put that in perspective, that’s $600 a year for basically doing nothing different. It’s just pure savings at no expense.

Other Perks of Amazon Subscribe & Save

Another great thing about this service is that many products have an additional coupon you can apply to your first order.

I’ve seen this range anywhere between $1 and $5, which is a great deal.

Also, there is a big convenience factor as well.

You never really have to worry about running out of toilet paper, for example, if you get the subscription set up just right.

If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free, which is cheaper than driving to the store.

In the end, it’s a good deal for Amazon too because they are getting you to buy more products from their website.

This is actually a great incentive they’ve set up and not some gimmick.

You actually do save a significant amount of money for buying things you’re going to buy either way.

Now go check out their Subscribe & Save page and start saving 15% like I do!