Paying your bills on time and minimizing your debt are just two ways you can improve your credit rating. But if you’re looking for another, less conventional option, a goodwill letter might just be it.
In this post, we’ll explain what a goodwill letter is, how to write one and what to expect after it’s been sent. We also give you an example of an effective one, in case you decide to send one yourself.
What is a Goodwill Letter?
A goodwill letter is a self-written document you send to a lender after they’ve reported something negative to the credit bureaus/collection agencies under your name. Goodwill letters can be used in situations where the report is accurate, but the issue in question happened under special circumstances.
For example, it could be a simple case of changed addresses. Sometimes people move and forget to change their mailing address with all their lenders. This can translate into an undelivered piece of mail and unpaid bills.
If you suffered an unforeseen accident or experienced health problems your financial focus could have been shifted to your recovery. As a result, you could have been tardy with other bill payments.
Once an overdue bill is reported, it can negatively affect your credit score. This is when you would use a goodwill letter. The letter would be addressed to the lender that reported the delinquency, explain the contributing circumstances and ask that the negative item be removed from your record.
How to Write a Goodwill Letter
When writing a goodwill letter, it’s important to remember the following five things:
- Have a Genuine Tone
- Take Responsibility
- Provide Proof of any Mistakes and all Relevant Documentation
- Show it’s Out of Character
- Keep it Short and Simple
Have a Genuine Tone: Because the late payment was your fault, a sincere tone will have the most success. Being thankful and humble will read far better than an angry or frustrated tone. Remember, you’re asking for a favor. The lender is in no way required to remove the delinquent payment from your record.
Take Responsibility: The key here is a carefully written explanation of the circumstances that caused you to be late. Be truthful, transparent, and it never hurts to be apologetic. Taking responsibility for your actions goes a long way in life AND makes for a great goodwill letter.
Provide Proof of any Mistakes and all Relevant Documentation: If the lender made a mistake, you’ll need proof. Sometimes the mistake might not be the lender’s fault, but the credit servicer. A simple typo can cause huge headaches. If you have had communication with the servicer about the error in question, you’ll want to provide the lender of proof of that correspondence.
Show it’s Out of Character: This point is all about building back trust. A lender is more likely to remove the negative hit to your credit if they see you normally take timely payments seriously. If this is a one-time, out of character instance, the lender will likely give you a break.
Keep it Short and Simple: This is probably the most important point and that is…. Get to the point. Flowery language and multiple pages won’t help. In fact, it’ll hurt.
What to Expect After You’ve Sent Your Goodwill Letter
Goodwill letters are the most successful when the rest of your credit history is relatively clean. That means on-time payments and well-maintained credit cards. When the issue that caused the negative item on your report is out of character, lenders are far more receptive to the letter than if there is a history of credit problems.
If the reason you didn’t pay your bill was simply a “lack of money”, creditors will probably be unreceptive. However, if your letter is well-written, genuine and apologetic and the rest of your credit history is exceptional, a goodwill letter can go a long way.
Keep in mind, it can take several attempts before a lender will remove a negative line from your credit report.
If you think a goodwill letter is something that might help your current credit situation, use our example as a template. Remember to include any relevant documentation that helps support your claim.
Have a question about goodwill letters? Any success stories/tips? Let us know in the comments section!