How to Improve Your Credit and Finance Infertility Treatment

Couple reviewing their credit

The ARC Affordable Payment Plan helps finance the cost of your fertility treatment. Financing options for services, such as IVF or IUI, and fertility medications are available through your fertility clinic as a member of ARC Fertility. This payment program helps make infertility treatment more affordable with manageable monthly payments.

How Your Monthly Payment Is Determined

The ARC loan application is easy to fill out and an ARC Patient Services Specialist can help you through the process. The actual amount of your monthly loan payment will depend on the amount of the loan, the length of time for repayment and the annual percentage rate (APR), which is based on your credit rating. If you are not initially approved, you can sometimes also have a friend or family member apply on your behalf. In addition, there are ways to fix and rebuild your credit so you can re-apply for financing.

Attaining the Best Rate

Multiple factors affect your credit score: payment history has the biggest impact; your credit utilization rate — how much of your available credit you are using — comes in second.

How quickly you can improve your credit score depends on what it is and why. The lower your score, the more likely you are to achieve a 100 – point increase because even small changes can make a big difference. Once you begin and keep making key changes described below, positive data will be reported to the credit bureaus (credit card companies usually make monthly reports). Showing a positive trend that will improve your score.

5 Steps for Improving Your Credit Score

For most people, a realistic timeframe to improve your score is 6 months. More serious problems such as delinquencies or bankruptcy take longer to fix. Do keep in mind that lenders have different policies about who qualifies for a loan and at what rate, and that recent behavior makes a difference.

The best and fastest fixes to raising your credit score:

  1. Fix any negative errors on your credit report
    Be sure to check that balances are correct as this affects your credit utilization rate.
  2. Make all your payments on time
    Consider signing up for auto-payment. 
  3. Pay any outstanding bills that haven’t been sent to collection
    If you are behind on your credit card or utility bills, pay those first. A payment 1-2 months late has less effect on your credit than one 3 months late.
  4. Pay any outstanding bills sent to collections
    Show that you paid what you owed even though it’s late. If the amount has already been charged off, make sure you can pay it in full before paying or the clock starts again on the collections process and will stay on your account for another seven years. 
  5. Reduce your credit utilization
    It’s best to keep your utilization below 30-35%, but the lower, the better. As soon as creditors report lower balances, your utilization rate is lower and will be reflected in your score. Consider all your options to pay down credit balances to reach a 30% rate quickly including using any cash reserves, money from family or friends or a 401(k) loan. Retirement loans are not reported to credit bureaus and can usually be processed in a matter of weeks.

Here’s your guide to what you need to know to improve your credit score with helpful resources on how to do-it-yourself or find professional help:

Get Your Credit Report for Free

To learn your credit score, you can request a free copy of your credit report through Credit Karma, credit.com and  annualcreditreport.com.

Understanding Your Credit Reports and Credit Scores

A complete credit picture requires a report from all three national credit bureaus and will include information from banks, creditors and public records such as a late payment history and delinquencies and how much debt you have relative to your overall credit limit. 

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report

Review the report to see if any negative information is incorrect, too old, or doesn’t look familiar and could be from identity theft. You can dispute errors or negative information more than 7 years old or ask the credit bureau to investigate. Your letter should explain the facts along with documentation. To learn what to look for, how to correct errors and add positive information see detailed advice from NOLO.

Rebuilding and Improving Your Credit

If the information is correct and you need to improve your score to qualify for a loan, you can do-it-yourself, work with a non-profit credit counseling organization or a credit repair company. Some consumer advocates recommend you tackle this on your own as it’s free and you’ll avoid scams.

What You Can Do on Your Own

You can improve your own credit score using reputable online resources that offer tools and detailed step-by-step advice.

  • Consumer Reports offers a checklist on how to improve your credit score.
  • Credit Repair 101 provides extensive information and answers: What is a Good Credit Score? How Long Will It Take to Repair My Credit? When Should I DIY Credit Repair?
  • The Credit Score Simulator is an online tool that shows how your credit score changes based on various steps you might take. More resources are listed below.

Seeking Professional Help

If you decide to seek outside help with a non-profit credit counseling organization or a credit repair company, it’s important to make sure your best interests are primary and that the company you have chosen is in good standing. You can ask for references and check to see if there are any unresolved consumer complaints by contacting your state attorney general or Better Business Bureau. You can also ask your bank, friends or family members for a referral.

How Credit Counseling Agencies Can Help

A non-profit credit counseling agency will review your entire financial situation and develop an individual plan for specific problems like debt issues. They can arrange debt consolidation, negotiate lower interest rates and assist with overall money management including devising budgets. Services may be free or low cost (though this is not always the case) and are generally available at local offices, online or by phone. Programs are often available through your local university, military base, or credit union.

Reputable credit counseling organizations have certified counselors trained on consumer credit, debt management and budgeting, and offer a variety of services including educational classes and workshops for the public. Fees should be discussed upfront and payment should never be required before a service is completed. Your bank may be able to recommend a trusted local credit counseling group.  Read more advice on selecting a credit counseling organization.

What You Should Know About Credit Repair Companies

There is nothing a credit repair company can legally do that you can’t do for yourself. Credit repair company services include resolving disputes with credit bureaus or the original creditor, negotiating debt amounts, credit monitoring, and sometimes, legal services. A team or personal case manager may work with you along with access to a customer portal with educational material. Fees vary widely and may be on a per-service basis or require membership and can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

While there are reputable companies, there are also scams, so it’s important to make the right choice. Credit repair companies are legally required to explain:

  • Your legal rights in a written contract that also details the services they’ll perform
  • Your three day right to cancel without any charge
  • How long it will take to get results
  • The total cost you will pay
  • Any guarantees

The best companies will also explain your rights and answer any questions; they can explain in detail what they can and can’t do to represent you to the credit bureaus and outline their services so you fully understand what you’re paying for. You should also be able to get concrete examples of what they’ve accomplished for other clients. For expert and consumer reviews of top ranked companies, see Resources (below).

Know Your Fair Credit Rights and Common Violations

You should understand your rights and the most common ways they are violated by credit bureaus and creditors, whether you do your own credit repair or work with an organization.

Remember, a less than ideal credit history doesn’t always mean you can’t get a loan but you may pay a higher interest rate. Not everyone looks at your credit history the same way — some may evaluate you by looking only at recent years and may give you credit if your bill-paying history has improved. However you do it, there’s probably no better motivation than your goal of having a baby.

Resources