Comedian Dan Nainan knows how to tell a joke. But one thing that was not funny at all was his credit score.
For years, his credit score was downright horrible. It hovered in the lowest possible range–in the 300’s–due to overwhelming credit card debt.
But rather than give up, Nainan took action and managed to improve his credit score by 500 points. Here’s how Nainan managed to pull off this feat, as well as some tips on how to raise your own credit score.
Getting into debt is no joke
“Right out of college, companies inundated me with credit card offers and I signed up for all of them,” says Nainan. “I ran up a balance and just couldn’t make the payments on them.”
For years, Nainan was so overwhelmed with his debt that he simply could not face it. Instead, he just hid from it.
“I was so behind, so I just blew it off,” says Nainan. “My credit was as low as can be–in the 300’s. I couldn’t get approved for anything.”
However, most bad debt will drop off your credit report after seven years. So after years of ignoring it, Nainan’s oldest debt disappeared overnight. And, his score got a small boost.
That one little change was enough to give Nainan some hope. It also motivated him to start making changes and find ways to improve his credit score.
Laser focus: increase credit score
Nainan became laser focused on his debt and his credit score. He also decided to scrutinize his credit report. And while he did recognize some debts under his belt, he saw some erroneous accounts listed too.
They turned out to be his dad’s debts, whose name is similar. Nainan did some research online and found out that getting false debts removed from a credit report is not always easy.
“I learned you should never call or email the credit bureaus,” says Nainan. “It’s too easy for them to say they never got it. Instead, I sent everything by certified mail, so I had a record they received it.”
Six weeks after sending a letter notifying the credit bureaus of the erroneous charges, he got a letter back saying they would remove the charges. His score suddenly leaped up by about 200 points, and Nainan could actually get approved for competitive credit card offers.
“I started completely out of control, but it took me about three years to get my act together,” Nainan says. “Knowing how to proceed was a major help.”
Life after credit card debt
Now, Nainan uses his credit cards strategically. He treats them like cash, only using them for convenience. But, he keeps his spending around what he knows he can afford. As a comedian he travels often, so he mostly uses them for the travel perks.
With his careful credit score repair work, his credit score is now an excellent 846.
“I can get approved for anything I want now,” says Nainan. “I get the best credit cards with no fees but great rewards. A dealer approved [me] for a new car in minutes. Excellent credit makes life much simpler.”
How to increase your credit score: baby steps
Nainan is an advocate for other people looking to improve their credit scores.
“It is not easy for people who don’t have the knowledge to start with,” says Nainan. “There is so much misinformation out there.”
One of the things people tend to overlook the most according to Nainan is checking out AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s a free site that offers credit reports from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, the three credit bureaus.
“There are so many sites that convince you that you need to pay to see your credit report, but you can get a report from each of the three credit bureaus for free from AnnualCreditReport.com,” Nainan explains.
Nainan also recommends checking your credit report regularly and that you look for erroneous charges. Sometimes it is a simple mistake, and sometimes you could be the victim of identity theft. By checking your report, you can catch those things early on.
Since each credit bureau offers a free report, you can view a different report every four months without paying a fee. That way, you can check for any issues throughout the year, rather than wait 12 months in between monitoring your report.
And, Nainan recommends that you discipline yourself in your spending.
“If you struggle with credit card spending like I did, cut up the card,” says Nainan. “It is so important to just stop spending and end the cycle of debt. Treat your credit card like cash to get yourself back on track.”
Next steps for raising your credit score
If you’re like Nainan and struggling with a low credit score, try not to get overwhelmed. Instead, take action and get informed on how to improve your situation.
For an action plan on how to raise your credit score, check out this article on how to get 700 credit score (or higher).
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