Credit Repair Company Review Methodology
How we review and rate the best providers
Credit repair companies can help consumers fix items that are inaccurate on their credit reports. It’s also possible for consumers to repair these items on their own. This makes it extra important to carefully consider whether it’s worth paying for a credit repair company to help get this done. There’s a wide variety of credit repair companies on the market, and it can be difficult to weigh the options on your own.
We’ve done the work of evaluating credit repair companies for you. We put in the time researching and reviewing almost 20 credit repair companies, with the goal of giving you the best possible assessment of what’s out there. This is the process we used in each of our reviews.
Credit Repair Company Review Methodology
To create an objective review methodology, we decided to break down the different aspects of a credit repair company’s profile: stability, reputation, customer satisfaction, customer experience, the types of services you’ll receive, and cost.
We looked at every credit repair company on our list and reviewed them in five primary categories:
- Reputation and customer satisfaction
- Customer experience
- Costs and fees
We assigned a ranking of one (lowest possible ranking) to five (highest possible ranking) to each category using whole numbers. We then tabulated the category rankings to get an overall one-star to five-star rating for each credit repair company. The credit repair companies with the highest possible rating met all (or most of) the criteria in each of our categories (the opposite was true for companies with the lowest possible ratings).
If you want to know which providers scored the best based on these criteria, click to see which made our list of the best credit repair companies.
Our primary consideration regarding stability was how long each credit repair provider has been in business. This is because research suggests that newer businesses are less likely to survive than older businesses. Especially where your finances are concerned, it’s important to work with a well-established business. This category’s points ranged from one to five points, with the points granted as follows:
- Five points: 26 or more years in business
- Four points: 16 to 25 years in business
- Three points: 11 to 15 years in business
- Two points: Six to 10 years in the business
- One point: One to five years in business
A company's stability, as measured by its time in business, accounted for 7% of its overall rating in our evaluation.
Reputation and Customer Satisfaction
We researched each credit repair provider’s reputation and the level of customer satisfaction in each one of our reviews. The five main aspects we evaluated included:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaints and actions
- Better Business Bureau accreditation
- Better Business Bureau rating
- Better Business Bureau customer reviews
- Google reviews
This information enabled us to evaluate the level of trustworthiness of each credit repair company and how satisfied customers are with the services received. Taken together, these factors accounted for 25% of each company's overall rating.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Complaints and Actions
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a governmental agency tasked with protecting consumers from unfair, abusive, and deceptive business practices. This includes taking corrective action against financial service providers that violate the law. We reviewed the CFPB’s consumer complaint database for each of the credit repair providers we evaluated to identify any recent complaints. This category’s points ranged from one to five points, with the points granted as follows:
- Five points: No complaints within the past three years
- Four points: No complaints within the past year
- Three points: One to five complaints within the past year
- Two points: Six to 10 complaints within the past year
- One point: More than 10 complaints within the past year or a regulatory enforcement action
An evaluation of the CFPB’s consumer complaint database helped us better understand each provider’s reputation. Working with a credit repair company that is serious about consumer protection and keeps the consumer’s best interests in mind is important.
Better Business Bureau Accreditation and Rating
We also considered if each credit repair company was accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and their BBB ratings. As to BBB accreditation, we granted five points if a company was BBB accredited and one point if it wasn’t accredited. The BBB rating score was based on a five-point scale as follows:
- Five points: A+
- Four points: A to A-
- Three points: B+ to B
- Two points: B-, C+, and C
- One point: C- to F or not rated
By understanding each credit repair company’s status and rating with the BBB, we were better able to gauge its reputation in each of our reviews.
Better Business Bureau Customer Reviews and Google Reviews
We also considered the level of customer satisfaction for each provider based on BBB customer reviews and Google reviews. The score for the BBB rating was based on a five-point scale. The number of points each provider earned corresponded with the BBB and Google star ratings (e.g., five stars equaled five points, less than two stars or no reviews equaled one point, etc.). We consider the level of customer satisfaction an important component of each credit repair provider’s reputation.
We researched the customer experience in each one of our reviews. The three main aspects of the customer experience we evaluated included:
- Website, apps, or online user portals
- Financial education and literacy
- Credit repair professionals
Using this set of criteria, we evaluated the type of experience you might receive as a potential customer. Customer experience accounted for 15% of each company's overall rating in our reviews.
Website, Apps, or Online User Portals
Your financial information needs to be secure and easy to access, so we considered websites, apps, or online user portals in our evaluation. This category’s points were based on a five-point scale. Companies with websites that included robust contact options (e.g., phone numbers, hours of operation, online applications, online user portals, optional apps) and detailed information about the company, its services, and pricing were considered among the best and received five points.
In contrast, companies with websites that didn’t include key information needed to make a decision (e.g., information about the company, its costs, and its process), were difficult to navigate, or where not all the webpages were secure only received one point. This is because we believe it’s important for credit repair companies to have transparent pricing and processes to enhance the customer experience. Plus, you need to know the company is serious about security, which includes its website.
Financial Education and Literacy
We considered the extent to which each credit repair company offered financial education and literacy training to its customers. This is important because consumers should be equipped to maintain a good credit score on their own when they exit credit repair programs. This category’s points were based on a five-point scale. Companies with an extensive library of resources were considered excellent and received five points. At the other end of the spectrum, credit repair companies where this was not available received only one point.
Credit Repair Professionals
We evaluated the type of training each credit repair company offers its credit repair specialists. This is important because it’s always a good idea to work with a well-trained credit professional. This category’s points were based on a five-point scale. Companies with the qualifications that were considered among the best received five points (e.g., advisors are certified in the Fair Credit Reporting Act). Credit repair companies where training was average (e.g., no specific certifications and in-house training) received three points. In contrast, one point was granted to companies that did not readily disclose this information.
We evaluated the types of services each credit repair company offered. This included not only credit repair services but also ancillary services like financial management tools and credit monitoring. The five main credit repair service aspects we evaluated included:
- Credit repair
- Credit bureau coverage
- Financial management
- Credit monitoring
- Other services
With this set of criteria, we were able to evaluate the types of credit repair services you might get with each provider. Taken together, the availability and quality of services available from each company accounted for 21% of the company's overall rating.
Since our goal was to evaluate credit repair providers, one of the key areas of focus was on the types of credit repair services you would receive. We learned that there are many different levels of service you can receive, even at similar price points. When rating each provider’s credit repair services, we used a five-point scale. Providers who offered a robust set of customized services received up to five points. In contrast, if a provider didn’t offer any true credit repair services, it would have received one point, though this did not happen in our reviews.
Credit Bureau Coverage
It was equally important to understand if the credit repair providers would work on items on all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). This is important because the same item can appear on all of your credit reports. That said, it doesn’t really help to have items fixed on only one of your credit reports since it would possibly still be a problem with your other two credit reports. For this reason, we gave credit repair providers who covered all three credit bureaus five points, and those who covered less than three or don’t disclose this information only one point.
Financial Management, Credit Monitoring, and Other Services
Lastly, we considered if each credit repair provider offered financial management tools (e.g., budgeting tools), monthly credit monitoring, and any other services (e.g., loan assistance) as a part of their credit repair packages or as an add-on feature. As with many of the other categories, all three of these items were rated on a five-point scale. Credit repair companies who offered these services received up to five points, whereas those who didn’t offer them (or didn’t disclose this) received only one point.
Costs and Fees
In each of our reviews, we evaluated the costs and fees associated with each provider’s credit repair services. The five main cost factors we evaluated for each credit repair company included:
- Availability of a free credit repair consultation
- Money-back guarantee
- Enrollment and other fees
- Monthly fees
Based on this set of criteria, we were able to evaluate how much it might cost you to work with each credit repair provider. Each providers various fees and discounts accounted for 32% of the company's overall rating.
Free Credit Repair Consultation
One of the key things you should look for in a credit repair provider is a free credit consultation. You can repair your credit on your own, which means working with a credit repair provider is a choice. That said, you should have a good understanding of how the credit repair company can help you and what the process will look like before you sign up for a plan. Also, it’s illegal for credit repair companies to make you pay for services in advance. That said, the existence of a free credit consultation is a decent way for credit repair companies to demonstrate upfront their commitment to upholding the law.
We gave credit repair providers who offer a free credit consultation five points and those that do not (or don’t clearly disclose whether they do this) only one point.
Some credit repair companies will provide you with a money-back guarantee if they aren’t able to do what they said they could do in the contract you signed. For example, maybe the company thought it would be able to get some of your inaccurate items repaired within a six-month period, but wasn’t actually able to do so. The presence of a money-back guarantee offers some comfort level that the company will do what it says it's going to do. We gave credit repair providers who offered a money-back guarantee five points and those that did not (or didn’t clearly disclose this) only one point.
Many credit repair providers charge a monthly fee plus a one-time “first work” fee and other fees (e.g., you might be charged for each item removed from your credit report). We used a five-point scale to evaluate our two fee categories. Providers with lower fees than average received up to five points, whereas credit repair providers who had fees significantly higher than average or who didn’t disclose their fees only received one point.
Lastly, we considered if each credit repair company offered discounts. This category rating was simple, with five points given if discounts were offered and one point given if there were no discounts or if information about discounts was not clearly disclosed.
Choosing the Best Credit Repair Company for You
We wrote nearly 20 credit repair company reviews based on the needs of the consumer. We thought about the questions you might ask and the answers that would enable you to make an informed decision. With this in mind, we carefully evaluated credit repair companies to help you choose the right provider.
Whether or not to use a credit repair company, and which company to choose, is an individual decision. As you’re shopping around, you might be thinking about such things as how much it’s going to cost you, what services you’re going to get, and if the company is going to be looking out for your best interests. Our reviews were designed to help you evaluate all of these items in depth. Remember that these reviews are intended simply as a resource and are only provided for informational purposes.
The information contained in our reviews should not be considered financial or legal advice and is simply based on general information that’s available to us at the time the review is written. Credit repair providers change their product offerings, pricing, and strategies regularly, so it’s important for you to speak with a professional to learn what’s best for you. Ultimately, consumers need to carefully weigh their options and make personal decisions about which options are best for them.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Institute: Small Business Data Dashboard. "A Large Share of Small Businesses are Young Businesses." Accessed August 28, 2020.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "The Bureau." Accessed August 28, 2020.
Federal Trade Commission. "Credit Repair Organizations Act." Accessed August 28, 2020.