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Will it help my credit more if I pay off my credit card balances or collections items first?

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Pay open lines of credit.

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My honest to God suggestion/tip would be to continue to MAKE SURE you pay your current (open) lines of credit on time and if possible in full. After like three or four years, depending on how long you have been in collections your credit score stops taking those items into consideration. And after seven years, you can request that the collection agency remove them unless you have made agreements with them to repay in any way, shape or form.

When collection agencies call you, always ask them to communicate with you via mail. Any promises made over the phone can't be guaranteed, and if that employee leaves those promises left with that individual. But if you have a paper trail, you can reference it. I hope this helps, and I agree with Javie as well. If you really want to get some RECENT accounts out of collection be sure to negotiate. They can remove items from your credit report, late payments, and more. Money talks, they get percentages of all debts collected!!

Hope this is of some help! Some of this knowledge changed my life and financial situation.

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The quicker you get the collections items off the better. If you are facing a tight financial situation you can settle the collection items for less, but it will show up on your credit report as such. If you speak with someone nice enough you can settle for less and have them wipe the item off your credit, but the odds of that happening are very very low. Just make sure that by paying off collections items, you don't miss your credit card payments. 

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What helps more?

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 I would never, ever want to be in a collection agency.  That shows lenders you are not credit worthy.   If you pay that off first, it will leave your credit report faster then if you wait.  If you have other credit,  cards, car payment and/or mortgage, you NEED to keep them up, too.  My husband and I decided to pay our mortgage at the first of the month, then 2 weeks later so we could be scheduled to pay it in the middle of the month.  It worked out great but there was a lot of oatmeal and chicken being eaten for a few weeks.  Sometimes you have to sarcifice a little to make your life better.  

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