A Credit Sesame success story
When 25-year-old Brandi Regan signed up to be a Credit Sesame member in 2014, her credit score was in the low 400s. Here’s the story of how she raised it over 200 points.
Brandi spent heavily with no solid payoff plan
Brandi quit a retail job although she was mired in debt. Now she had no way to keep up with her payments, and her debt went to collections.
To get onto a career track, Brandi decided to go back to school. Her outlook improved but not before she racked up about $30,000 in student loan debt.
When she landed a job she resolved to turn around her debt situation.
She learned how credit works
“I wanted to start rebuilding and working toward my future,” says Brandi.
After hearing about Credit Sesame from a friend, she signed up for a free membership. To her dismay, she discovered that her credit score was 424.
She downloaded the Credit Sesame app and dug into all the tools and resources Credit Sesame offers.
One of her favorite features in the app is the tips. “I’m constantly looking for new ways to build my credit, and Credit Sesame’s tips really me with that,” she says. She also relies on the alerts to stay up to date on her score.
She focused first on what helped her score the most
Brandi focused on the actions that would help her credit score the most. Payment history is the most important credit score factor, accounting for 35 percent of your score. Collections can torpedo this category.
She researched credit card debt settlement. “I didn’t really know where to turn, so I did a lot of research and learned that you can work with creditors to negotiate down your debt,” she explains.
Brandi contacted all four of her credit card issuers. After some back and forth, she was able to settle for less than the amount owed on two, and paid the other two in full.
She agreed to pay $100 per month on each card until her debts were paid off.
“For each debt, I asked if the derogatory account would fall off my credit report, and when,” she says.
She started rebuilding her credit with secured credit cards
Brandi was wary of applying for a credit card. But after a co-worker recommended secured cards, she decided to apply.
She was approved for two secured credit cards that each had a $200 limit.
She works to pay off remaining debt
Brandi recently got her student loans out of default and stays on top of her payments. She chips away at the balances every month. She also has a car loan, on schedule to pay off by the end of this year.
She doesn’t try to do it alone
Brandi’s parents are her cheerleaders. “Both my parents have provided a huge support system in this journey,” she explains. She occasionally sends screenshots of her score to her parents to show her progress.
“Every time my credit score goes up, I feel ridiculously proud of myself!”
A credit score plan for the future
Brandi’s next major goal is raising her current 641 credit score to 700 by year’s end.
Her near-term goals are to graduate to an unsecured credit card and pay off her car loan.
Her long-term goals include buying a house by the time she hits 30.
Brandi’s tips are:
- Learn the ins and outs of credit
- Pay attention to the tips. On Credit Sesame, they are customized to each member’s credit situation.
- Don’t give up
“Be patient and persistent; it doesn’t happen overnight.”