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Are Prepaid Legal Services Worth It?

You bet your ass, they are! Let me explain. A few months ago a very old payday loan showed up on my Transunion credit report and in my mind, I'm thinking, no problem. I'll just dispute it and make it disappear like magic just like I always do. But this time it didn't work. Two months later I disputed it again but the credit bureau refused to remove it.

Suddenly, I realized that I had been paying $9.95 a month since 1999 for a prepaid legal service called ARAG. Now, ARAG has helped me in the past, most notably when a furniture company sued me unsuccessfully because ARAG Legal Services told me step by step what to do to defend myself and the case was dismissed less than 30 days after answering the summons.

Fast forward to today. I reached out to ARAG and requested that they send out a debt validation letter to the collection agency on my behalf and within a week I received a notification from Credit Karma informing me that the payday loan collection account had been removed! ARAG came through for me again!

In short, if you find yourself in similar situations every few months while you work on restoring your credit, I suggest that you arm yourself with ARAG or a similar company to help defend you in your time of need. Most prepaid legal services will provide the first hour at no charge. I've used ARAG at least 4 times and have never paid a cent beyond the $9.95 monthly fee.

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Credit Rebuilding: Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

Over the weekend I decided to try my luck once again in the credit card lottery and to my surprise, I was instantly approved for an Overstock.com credit card with an initial credit limit of $550. It is stated that a credit score of about 620 is required for approval but there are always outliers.

This approval is especially satisfying because I had been denied the last time I applied which was about 3 years ago. What I've learned from this experience is that as long as you continue to make payments on time and pay your debt down, you will improve your credit standing by default without the need to do anything special.

The problem that most people have, including me, is that we get too anxious and want great credit today and not six months from now. We have a burning desire for instant gratification but that's just not how the credit industry works. With credit, slow and steady wins the race.

Hiring a reputable credit repair company will speed up the process but if you're patient, you can improve your credit organically just by consistently paying your bills on time. Now, it might take a bit longer depending on your current financial situation but the reality is that this time will pass anyway so you might as well just wait it out.

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How To Get Approved With Bad Credit

Getting approved with bad credit is difficult but not impossible. I've acquired unsecured credit cards numbering in the teens and the majority of them I was able to obtain with poor credit. At the time, my credit scores ranged between 530 and 580. The reason why I was able to get approved time and time again is that I went in with a plan and I did my research.

I'm a firm believer in user reviews. Before purchasing my truck, I read over 400 reviews and I would have read 1000 if there had been that many. I'm the same way with credit. There are resources available online that will tell you the minimum score needed to get approved for certain cards as well as which credit bureau the card company uses to make credit decisions.

This information is not 100% foolproof but it does give me a certain level of confidence when applying for credit. It also limits the risk of being denied and adding more credit inquiries, which are overrated by the way, but that's a story for another day.

I also review credit reports to see if I've already applied for a particular card so that I don't apply again too soon and risk another denial. I constantly check for changes in credit card finance companies since certain companies are known for offering easier credit approvals than others. The information is out there...you just have to be willing to go get it.

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