How to Build Your Credit Rating

When building credit from scratch (as most young adults must) or rebuilding credit after a run of difficult financial challenges (medical, collections, bankruptcy, job loss, etc.), there are several steps to take to improve credit scores and show potential creditors that you are not a high risk to them so that they’ll charge you a lower interest rate.

What would be considered the best way to build or rebuild your credit rating?

Many of the same strategies used to build credit from scratch can also help consumers with poor credit to rebuild their ratings. The process should focus on adding positive, up-to-date credit-related information to the consumer’s credit report while removing inaccurate, negative information.

The fastest way to rebuild your credit score involves disputing and correcting negative, inaccurate information on your credit report that is dragging down your score. Otherwise, adding active and properly maintained credit accounts tends to satisfy credit scoring models that search for reliable information to predict your future credit-related behavior.

Whether you want to build your credit or you need to rebuild it after a rough financial patch, here are six simple and sensible steps you can take to end up with a great credit rating.

  1. Pull your credit report and dispute inaccurate, negative information

  2. Become an authorized user on a trusted family member’s credit card account

  3. Ask your utility company to report your history of payments to the credit reporting agencies

  4. Start with a small line of credit from a tire shop or a retail store

  5. Find a no-fee secured credit card and use it sparingly

  6. Take advantage of a credit-builder loan

The order of these steps is not random. Steps 1 through 3 involve no possibility of fees or interest charges. The further down the list you go, the more work the steps will require of you. Finally, steps 4 through 6 involve the likelihood of additional costs.

Not all steps are available to all consumers. For example, you may not have a trusted family member with good credit who is willing to add you as an authorized user. On the other hand, most consumers live in states where the utility companies do not report – or are not willing to report – payment histories to the consumer reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus or, below, simply CRAs).

These six steps offer a straightforward and reasonable approach to credit building:

1. Pull Your Free Credit Report

Many online websites offer a “free credit score” and a free credit analysis. Many even say they can provide you with a free credit report. The truth is that most of these “free reports” are only available if you sign up for a monthly subscription service of some sort, often costing from $10 to $50 a month. Consequently, these companies often require you to provide them with a credit or debit card in order to provide you with the so-called free report.

Steer clear!

Only one site is the federally mandated place to get your free credit report per the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (or FACT Act): www.AnnualCreditReport.com (also available by phone at 877-322-8228)

Per the FACT Act, all American adults can get a free credit report from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) every twelve months. You can pull all three reports at once or get them individually throughout the year.

Your free report will not include your credit score. The FACT Act only provides access to your report. If you want your credit score, you will have to pay for it or actually apply for a loan (and ask your lender for it). The “free scores” you can access online at places like CreditKarma.com and CreditSesame.com may look like credit scores, but virtually no lender uses them in their decision-making processes.

Even if it is a free FICO score (FICO is the company that pioneered credit scoring and holds a monopoly on 90% of all credit-based decisions in the US), it is likely a version of FICO that is no longer used or never has been widely accepted by lenders.

However, the FACT Act allows consumers to view their credit reports in order to ensure their information is accurate. This minimizes the possibility of having a credit application denied due to incorrect information. It can also minimize the impact of potential identity theft.

If you pull your credit report online, you will have access to it immediately. If you order it by phone, it takes about two to three weeks to arrive.

Review the information on each credit report, and if you see an error, return to the CRA’s home page within 30 days of your order. Once there, click on the error dispute link. The CRA will ask for your credit report or file number, after which you can click on the credit information you are disputing and provide some nominal information explaining the reason for your dispute. You may also upload supporting documentation (bills, paid-in-full notices, etc.).

The dispute process is simple but not guaranteed to end in your favor. Creditors have 30 days to respond to your dispute. If they believe they have proof the information is accurate, they will deny your dispute, at which time you will need to contact them directly and ask to see such proof. If they agree that the reported information is erroneous, the CRA will remove or update the information per your request. If in the occasional cases, the creditor does not respond at all during the 30-day period, the CRA will automatically remove or update the disputed information in your favor.

2. Become an Authorized User

If you know that a close family member has good credit, you might consider asking if he or she would be willing to add you to their credit card account(s) as an authorized user. If so, the activity associated with that account will show up on your credit report. It will not have the same level of effect as having your own credit card, but it will have a positive influence on your rating.

Frequently, the family member might worry about the impact of your credit rating on his or her rating. You can assure them that as an authorized user, your credit will not affect them. They may be thinking of co-signed loans or co-owned accounts that actually do mutually influence each other’s ratings.

Additionally, your family member may worry that you will use the card inappropriately, and he or she will be stuck with the bill. While it is true that the account holder (your family member in this case) is responsible for all activity on the account, the reality is that you do not even have to use the card or even ever see it to benefit from its activity.

You may actually prefer asking your family member to have the card sent to his or her home directly. Once your family member receives the card, he or she can activate it and even shred it. That should allay fears of inappropriate usage.

If the activity on the card starts to turn negative (e.g. your family member misses a payment or maxes out a card), the information is not supposed to show up on your credit report. However, if it does, you can simply dispute it to have the account removed completely from your report.

3. Utilities and Cell Phone Accounts

Historically, utility and cell phone companies have not reported monthly payments to consumer reporting agencies.

If they did, they would have to follow all of the wide-ranging requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970, which they generally and understandably prefer not to do. Plus, some states may actually prohibit such credit activity reporting. Still, some utilities, such as a few in Minnesota, Detroit, and northern Illinois, do already fully report account activities to the CRAs.

Of course, if you close your utilities or cell phone account and do not pay what you owe, the utility or phone company will likely sell the debt to a collection agency. In turn, the collection agency will add your delinquent account to your credit report as a negative mark.

Still, if you have made on-time payments for several years, it does not hurt to ask to have that history reported. Many states have laws that prohibit public utilities from reporting account activity to the CRAs. A national movement that includes many federal lawmakers may change such prohibitions in the future.

In the meantime, contact your utility and cell phone companies to ask if they are able and willing to report your payment histories. This does not include any pre-paid cell phone accounts.

Another similar approach involves using Experian’s free BOOST service. After you sign up, you grant BOOST read-only access to your checking account and then identify the utility and phone bills you pay. Experian then reports these payments as if they were monthly payments to a creditor. Unfortunately, at the moment, neither Equifax nor TransUnion offers a similar service.

Similar to authorized user accounts, utility accounts do not influence your rating at the same level as a standard credit card account would.

4. Store Credit Lines and Card Accounts

Many consumers who have applied for a major credit card receive a response that the financial institution has denied their application. Such responses often include an explanation like this: “You do not have sufficient credit history to qualify for a credit card account.”

This brings up the “which came first” problem, the chicken or the egg. “How am I supposed to build my credit history if I can’t qualify for a credit card?”

Instead of applying for a major credit card from a national bank or even a regional credit union or bank, start smaller and start local

Tire and Brake Shops

If you need new tires or brake work done on your car or truck, your local or regional tire and brake store will often offer a small line of credit to customers with poor credit ratings. Your annual interest rate will likely range from 20% to above 30%, but if you pay off the full balance before the first payment due date, you will not likely have to pay any interest at all.

  • Apply for a line of credit at a tire shop, clothing, or department store

  • Pay the full balance of the newly opened card long before payments are due

  • Don’t apply for more than 2-3 accounts in one year

Be careful not to open an account if you do not have the cash to pay for it. Otherwise, you will likely end up on the painful end of high-interest charges.

Retail and Gas Cards

Besides a tire shop, you might consider a clothing store or department store that has its own credit card (e.g. Kohl’s, JC Penney’s, or Target). If you do end up qualifying, consider stopping at the customer service desk before leaving the store. There, you can pay off the purchase with cash or your debit card. Otherwise, you run the risk of forgetting the purchase and then only affording the minimum payment once the bill arrives a month later. This, of course, is exactly what the store hopes you will do.

Each time you apply for a tire shop line of credit or a store card, an inquiry shows up on your credit report (and dings your score up to 1%). Consequently, most experts recommend that you not apply for more than two or three such accounts per year.

Buy Not Pay Later Apps

Beginning in 2022, the three consumer reporting agencies (CRAs or “credit bureaus”) decided to begin collecting payment and balance information from buy-now-pay-later apps such as Klarna, Affirm, and Afterpay. However, it remains up to these data providers whether they will report your information to the CRAs.

Once that happens, though, it will mean that if you download and start using one of these apps, your on-time payments can help you to build a history of positive credit behavior.

However, as early as the summer of 2021, less than a year after these apps became popular, one in three users was already behind on at least one of their monthly payments (See Reuters). In most cases, this led to lower credit scores.

History proves that the more convenient purchasing becomes, the more likely consumers are to overspend to the point of being unable to meet their financial obligations. If you decide to pursue credit building using such an app, be sure to do so by purchasing only items you can afford to repay at any time.

5. A Secured Credit Card

If you struggle to qualify for a tire shop, retail store, and credit card, look next at applying for a secured credit card. Not all banks and credit unions offer them. Those that do will vary in the fees and interest they charge. Shop around for the best deal.

A secured credit card account requires that you deposit an amount into a bank or credit union savings account equal to the credit limit of the card. You will not have any access to the savings account until you either close the secured credit card account or convert it to a standard credit card.

Right up front, get it in writing that the bank or credit union will report your monthly payments to the CRA. Otherwise, the secured card will do nothing to help you qualify for additional credit in the future.

You can make purchases on the secured card just as you would with any credit card. Consider using it for just one small bill a month, such as your Netflix or your cell phone payment. Do not carry the card in your wallet.

Do not carry a balance on the card from month to month, and make your payments on time every time. Otherwise, the bank or credit union will shut down your card, take fees and interest charges out of your savings account, and require you to replenish the savings account fund before they open the card again. Moreover, you do not want a late payment showing up on your credit report while you are trying to build your credit rating.

After a year or so, ask the financial institution if they would be willing to convert your secured credit card to a standard credit card with no annual fee.

6. Credit-Builder Loans

The final option for building or rebuilding your credit involves these unique loans offered by a few financial institutions. Your bank or credit union will not generally advertise this product and may not even list it among their services, since they do not generate any income for the business. In fact, many tellers and member service representatives do not even know about these products, so if you are inquiring at your local bank or credit union if they have one, be sure to ask a manager.

Credit-builder loans look a lot like a forced savings account that charges you a fee. After qualifying, the financial institution places your loaned money into a secured savings account in your name, much like the account described above for a secured credit card. You cannot access the money in this savings account until after you have paid the loan in full. You actually make monthly payments on the loan for up to a year in order to pay it off (they do not typically include any pre-payment penalties if you choose to pay it off early). Only then do you’ll receive the money from the loan. Since you will likely pay 5% to 15% in annual interest on the loan and only earn up to 1% on the savings, this option can get expensive. However, most credit-builder loans max out at $500 to $1,000, so the amount of interest you pay over the year will like range from $50 to about $150.

While you can follow these steps in order, you may also choose to mix and match. If it makes sense in your situation, there is nothing wrong with getting a credit-builder loan and then, five months later, applying for a tire shop line of credit. Alternatively, you may open a retail card and also ask your electric company to report your payments to the CRA. The possibilities are endless.

Commit to Build Your Credit Rating

This brings up one last component of this process. If you are financially, emotionally, and otherwise ready to improve your credit rating, consider taking this credit-building commitment and survey. Committing to yourself and to others increases the likelihood of your success. Additionally, you will receive quarterly practical credit-building tips via email (you can opt-out at any time). The idea here is that the more tools and support you have, the more likely you are to succeed. Find more information and support at the Money Fit Academy on credit building, household budgeting, debt elimination, spending controls, and more.

Building Credit

Do’s and Don’ts of Repaying Debt

  1. Don’t carry a balance just to build credit. Our score can be positively affected even if we pay off our balance every month in full.

  2. Don’t close old credit accounts that are in good standing (unless they’re charging fees).

  3. Don’t fall for the minimum payment trap. Making only minimum payments on credit card accounts leads to 15 to 25 years of debt.

  1. Do make at least the minimum payment due on any debt payments.

  2. Do whatever is possible to keep accounts from going to collections. NOTE: Work out payment arrangements with your original creditor AS SOON AS a collections notice is received.

  3. Do pay down debt balances.

12 Months to a Better Credit Rating

Here are several steps you can follow over the next twelve months to build (or rebuild) your credit history, remembering that no amount of “tricks” and no credit report company can rebuild credit if you’re in the habit of missing payments and maxing out cards. On-time payments and paying down your debts can account for 65% of your credit score.

  1. Month 1: Sign up for Experian’s free BOOST credit-building product that tracks your utilities and phone payments as if they were payments on a loan or credit line. This only works on your Experian credit report, though. For Equifax and TransUnion, consider asking your utilities and cell phone companies to report your history of on-time payments to the credit bureaus. Note: They do not do so automatically. If they are able to accommodate your request, be sure to allow about a month for this information to show on your credit report. Some states do not permit such reporting.

  2. Month 2: Consider asking a family member (parent) with good credit to request an authorized user card in your name from their credit card company. Note: This option is particularly meant to help the teens and young adults in our life become established, but it can be helpful for adults as well. Expect at least one month for such an account to begin impacting your credit.

  3. Months 2-7: Apply for no more than one or two new accounts a year, starting with a tire store line of credit, followed by a retail store account and/or a gas station card. You might also look into a credit builder loan at a bank or credit union. Essentially, these are forced saving accounts that report your monthly “deposits” as credit payments. However, unlike saving accounts, you pay interest instead of earning it.
    If these steps are not successful, consider asking a bank or credit union for a low credit limit secured credit card. You will typically need between $300 and $800 to open such an account.

  4. Months 8-12: After making at least six months of on-time payments to at least two new accounts listed above, you may be ready to apply for a Visa or MasterCard credit card from a major national bank.

About the Author

Client Credit Report Authorization

You hereby authorize and instruct Debt Reduction Services, Inc. (DRS, dba Money Fit by DRS) and/or its assigned agents to:
  • Obtain and review your credit report, and
  • Request verifications of your income and rental history, and any other information deemed necessary for improving your housing situation (for example, verifying your annual property tax obligations and homeowner’s insurance fees)
Your credit report will be obtained from a credit reporting agency chosen by DRS. You understand and agree that DRS intends to use the credit report evaluate your financial readiness to purchase or rent a home and/or to engage in post-purchase counseling activities and not to grant credit. You understand you may ask any questions pertaining to your credit report. However, while DRS will review the information with you, the company is not able to furnish you with a copy of your credit profile. You hereby authorize DRS to share your information from your credit report and any information that you provided (including any computations and assessments produced) with the entities listed below to help DRS determine your viable financial options.
  • Banks
  • Counseling Agencies
  • Debt Collectors
  • Landlords
  • Lenders
  • Mortgage Servicers
  • Property Management Companies
  • Public Housing Authorities
  • Social Service Agencies
Entities such as mortgage lenders and/or counseling agencies may contact your DRS counselor to evaluate the options for which you may be eligible. In connection with such evaluation, you authorize the credit reporting and/or financial agencies to release information and cooperate with your DRS counselor. No information will be discussed about you with entities not directly involved in your efforts to improve your housing situation. You hereby authorize the release of your information to program monitoring organizations of DRS, including but not limited to, Federal, State, and nonprofit partners for program review, monitoring, auditing, research, and/or oversight purposes. In addition, you authorize DRS to have your credit report pulled two additional times to conduct program evaluations. You also agree to keep DRS informed of any changes in address, telephone number, job status, marital status, or other conditions which may affect your eligibility for a program you have applied for or a counseling service that you are seeking. Finally, you understand that you may revoke consent to these disclosures by notifying DRS in writing.

Client Privacy, Data Security, and Client Rights Policy

NOTE: This sheet is to inform new or returning clients about our services, records, fees, and limitations that may affect you as a consumer of our services. This form also discloses how we might release your information to other agencies and/or regulators. If you do not understand a statement, please ask a Debt Reduction Services (DRS) counselor for assistance.

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. (DRS) has put into place policies and procedures to protect the security and confidentiality of your nonpublic personal information. This notice explains our online information practices and how we use and maintain your information to conduct our financial education and credit counseling sessions and to fulfill information and question requests. This privacy policy complies with federal laws and regulations.

To provide our financial education and credit counseling services, we collect nonpublic personal information about you as follows: 1) Information we receive from you, 2) Information about your transactions with us or others, and 3) Information we receive from your creditors or a consumer reporting agency. We do not share this information with outside parties.

We use non-identifying and aggregate information to better design our website and services, but we do not disclose anything that could be used to identify you as an individual.

You hereby authorize DRS, when necessary, to share your nonpublic personal, financial, credit, and any information that you provided (including any computations and assessments produced) with the following entities in order to help DRS provide you with appropriate counseling or guide you to appropriate services: third parties such as government agencies, your lender(s), your creditor(s), and nonprofit housing-related and other financial agencies as permitted by law, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

To prevent unauthorized access, maintain data accuracy, and ensure the correct use of information, we have put in place appropriate physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and secure the information we collect online. We limit access to your nonpublic personal information to our employees, contractors and agents who need such access to provide products or services to you or for other legitimate business purposes.

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. complies with the privacy requirements set forth in the HUD housing counseling agency handbook 7610.1 (05/2010), including the sections 2-2 Mc, 3-1 H(2), 3-3, 5-3 F, and Attachment A.5. At all times, we will comply with all additional laws and regulations to which we are subject regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of individually identifiable information.

  1. Services: DRS provides the following housing-related services: counseling that includes Homeless Assistance, Rental Topics, Pre-purchase/Homebuying, and Home Maintenance and Financial Management for Homeowners (Non-Delinquency Post-Purchase); Education courses that include Financial literacy (including home affordability, budgeting, and understanding use of credit), Predatory lending, loan scam or other fraud prevention, Fair housing, Rental topics, Pre-purchase homebuyer education, Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop (including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners), and other workshops not listed above.

Please refer to DebtReductionServices.org for details of our services.

  1. Limits: Our services are limited to our normal weekday business hours. We do not provide individual counseling or education services after hours or on weekends, although our education courses are available 24/7.
  2. Fees: We do not charge fees for our financial management counseling and education. However, if you use them, you may have to pay for our Debt Management Program, Student Loan Counseling, Bankruptcy Certificate Services or certain financial education courses (homebuyer education, rental topics, fair housing, predatory lending, and post-purchase-non-delinquency including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners).
  3. Records: We maintain records of the services you receive, including notes about your progress or other relevant information to your work with us. You have the right to access and view your records by making a request to your counselor.
  4. Confidentiality: We respect your privacy and offer our services in confidence with the understanding that we may share such information with auditors and government regulators. Certain laws or situations may also lead to disclosing confidential issues, such as those involving potential child abuse or neglect, threats to harm self or others, or court subpoenas.
  5. Refusal of Services: You have the right to refuse services without any penalty or loss.
  6. Disclosure of Policies and Practices: You will be provided our agency disclosure statement.
  7. Sharing of Information: Sometimes we will need to contact other agencies or we may need to share your information, including your records, with other agencies or with regulators. We will do this only if you sign this form that gives us permission except for limited reasons; please see # 5 above for examples of such situations.
  8. Other: You have the right to be treated with respect by our staff, and we expect the same from you in return. We encourage you to always ask questions if something is not clear. We also encouraged you to express your thoughts and advocate throughout our services.

You acknowledge that this authorization will remain in effect for the duration of time that DRS serves as your housing counselor or financial education provider. You also acknowledge that should you wish to terminate this authorization, you will notify DRS in writing.

Disclosure  Statement

NOTE: If you have an impairment, disability, language barrier, or otherwise require an alternative means of completing this form or accessing information about our counseling services, please communicate with your DRS representative about arranging alternative accommodations.

Program Disclosure Form

Disclosure to Client for HUD Housing Counseling Services

Debt Reduction Services, Inc. and its financial education arm, Money Fit by DRS, offer the following housing counseling and educational services related to housing, personal finance, and bankruptcy certificates to consumers:
  • Housing Education Courses: DRS offers many online self-guided education programs classified as Financial, Budgeting, and Credit Workshops (FBC), Fair Housing Pre-Purchase Education Workshops (FHW), Homelessness Prevention Workshops (HMW), Non-Delinquency Post Purchase Workshops (NDW), Predatory Lending Education Workshops (PLW), Pre-purchase Homebuyer Education Workshops (PPW), and Rental Housing Workshops (RHW). These courses help participants increase their knowledge of and skills in personal finance, including home affordability, budgeting, and understanding the use of credit, as well as predatory lending, loan scams, and other fraud prevention topics, fair housing, rental topics, pre-purchase homebuyer education, non-delinquency post-purchase topics including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners, homeless prevention workshop, and other workshops not listed above relating to personal finance and housing. Course details are found below under “Housing Workshops.”
  • Home Equity Conversation Mortgage (HECM) Counseling (RMC): Via telephone and virtual platforms, we offer the required HECM counseling nationwide in addition to in-person counseling in Boise, Idaho. We also offer in-home counseling options in thirty counties across southern Idaho for an additional fee to cover our travel and additional staff time costs.
  • Home Maintenance and Financial Management for Homeowners (Non-Delinquency Post-Purchase) (FBC): Clients receive counseling and materials on the proper maintenance of their home and mortgage refinancing. Clients can find help and resources by phone, in our Boise office, or virtually on all topics related to stabilizing their long-term homeownership.
  • Services for Homeless Counseling (HMC): Clients receive phone, virtual, or in-person (Boise) counseling to evaluate their current housing needs, identify barriers to and goals for housing stability, establish a path to self-sufficiency, and connect with emergency shelters, income-appropriate housing, and/or other community resources (e.g. mental healthcare, job training, transportation, etc.).
  • Pre-Purchase Counseling (PPC): Clients receive counseling through the entire homebuying process. Assistance may involve creating a sustainable household budget, understanding mortgage options, building their credit rating, and putting together a realistic action plan to set and achieve homeownership goals.  Additionally, clients will receive materials and resources about home inspections and other homeownership topics relevant to successfully maintaining a home.
  • Rental Housing Counseling (RHC): Via phone, in-person appointments (Boise, ID), or virtual platforms, clients receive housing counseling relevant to renting, including rent subsidies from HUD or other government and assistance programs. Topics can also address issues and concerns having to do with fair housing, landlord and tenant laws, lease terms, rent delinquency, household budgeting, and finding alternate housing.
DRS also offers the following services:
  • A Debt Management Program (DMP) for consumers struggling to pay their credit cards, collections, medical debts, personal loans, old utility bills, and past-due cell phone accounts;
  • The Budget Briefing and Debtor Education Certificates that are required during the Bankruptcy filing process;
  • A Student Loan Repayment Plan Counseling and application service.

Relationships with Industry Partners

Through such services, DRS has established financial relationships with hundreds of banks, credit unions, and creditors such as American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Credit One, Discover, Synchrony, US Bank, USAA, Wells Fargo, and others.

No Client Obligation

The client is not obligated to receive, purchase or utilize any other services offered by DRS or its exclusive partners to receive financial education or housing counseling services. Alternatives: As a condition of our counseling services, in alignment with meeting our client services goals, and in compliance with HUD’s Housing Counseling Program requirements, we may provide information on alternative services, programs, and products available to you, if applicable and known by our staff. Alternative DMP services include negotiating better repayment terms directly with your individual creditors, paying your debts as agreed, or, in extreme cases, filing for personal bankruptcy. Alternative credit and education services can be found through MyMoney.gov or the Jump$tart Clearinghouse of online financial education resources. Housing counseling alternatives can be found through HUD at www.hud.gov/findacounselor.
Finally, you understand that you may revoke consent to these disclosures by notifying DRS in writing.

Housing Counseling and Education Fee Schedule

 

Online Education Program Fees*

Homebuyer Education Course: $59 per participant

  • Self-paced course available here, our online housing counseling and education center. Certificates will be automatically generated upon completion of the course (approximately 6-8 hours)

RentalFair HousingPredatory Lending / HOEPAPost-Purchase (Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop, including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners) Online Workshops: $49 per participant

  • Approximately 1 hour each

Other Self-Guided Financial Literacy Webinars (e.g. creditbudgetinghomeless preventiondebt prevention): $0

One-on-one Counseling Fees*

Pre-purchase Homebuying Counseling, Rental Counseling, Post-purchase Ownership Maintenance and Financial Management: $75

  • Session by the hour

Reverse Mortgage/HECM Counseling with Required Certificate:

  • $200†

Credit Report Fee: Paid Directly by Client

*Fees for all but our online education courses and workshops can be paid online by debit card, credit card, or PayPal or in person by cash, check or money order to: “Debt Reduction Services, Inc.” Registration fees are non-refundable 24 hours or less before the start of an in-person course or workshop. Certificates are non-transferable

*Fees may be waived for households with income of 150% or less of that identified on the US Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines Page

†Home visit counseling is available in 30 southern Idaho counties for potential HECM borrowers at additional costs to cover our travel (IRS reimbursement rates apply) and staff time ($50 per hour or fraction there).

Housing Counseling and Education Fee Schedule

 

Online Education Program Fees*

Homebuyer Education Course: $59 per participant

  • Self-paced course available here, our online housing counseling and education center. Certificates will be automatically generated upon completion of the course (approximately 6-8 hours)

RentalFair HousingPredatory Lending / HOEPAPost-Purchase (Non-delinquency post-purchase workshop, including home maintenance and/or financial management for homeowners) Online Workshops: $49 per participant

  • Approximately 1 hour each

Other Self-Guided Financial Literacy Webinars (e.g. creditbudgetinghomeless preventiondebt prevention): $0

One-on-one Counseling Fees*

Pre-purchase Homebuying Counseling, Rental Counseling, Post-purchase Ownership Maintenance and Financial Management: $75

  • Session by the hour

Reverse Mortgage/HECM Counseling with Required Certificate:

  • $200†

Credit Report Fee: Paid Directly by Client

*Fees for all but our online education courses and workshops can be paid online by debit card, credit card, or PayPal or in person by cash, check or money order to: “Debt Reduction Services, Inc.” Registration fees are non-refundable 24 hours or less before the start of an in-person course or workshop. Certificates are non-transferable

*Fees may be waived for households with income of 150% or less of that identified on the US Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines Page

†Home visit counseling is available in 30 southern Idaho counties for potential HECM borrowers at additional costs to cover our travel (IRS reimbursement rates apply) and staff time ($50 per hour or fraction there).