Wanted to post my success story here as maybe inspiration for others that were in my same position. I thought it would be years to dig out and have decent credit again... but it essentially took 8 months.
This all started because I found out about travel hacking and wanted nothing more but to start earning points and fly off to exotic places for free. So I set out that my goal would be to eventually get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. At the time I figured it would be at least a year to two year of rebuilding to do this.
It all started like this: After a pretty nasty divorce lasting almost 3 years, including a foreclosed home, a car under my name (but that the ex was responsible for) being repossessed (got back after paying off the balance) and lots of other late payments my credit was royally F***ed.
As of early 2016 my credit scores averaged in the 530s. With 90 days lates as late as January 2016, foreclosure in January 2015, and two outstanding collection accounts.
I didn't really have too much of a plan of attack when I started repairing my credit, but I did have a one thing going for me... next to no debt. Which was a huge help, as I could focus on paying what little I had in collections and move on to repairing and building my credit. So the first thing I did was call the two collection companies to verify and take care of the accounts. Both stemmed from utilities from the foreclosed house, one I was able to get a pay and delete. And the other (AT&T) I paid off, but unfortunately was not deleted off my credit (I am actually still battling Equifax, because 7 months later they seem to think I still owe the balance).
Next I started disputing what I could in hopes things would improve or be deleted. Again, no plan, and I don't know if it was dumb luck or what but I was able to get several negative items removed, or late payments removed.
Then I had my fiance add me as an authorized user on her two oldest credit cards... this was HUGE. I saw an immediate 30 point jump in my scores after doing this. I think the main reason is I hadn't had a credit card of my own in 15 years, I just never saw the need and except for house and car paid everything with cash etc.
In August of 2016 I applied for and got approved for the first credit card I've had in over a decade. The Capitol One Quicksilver. I set it up so I had one bill on it on auto-pay, then the card auto-paid to pay off in full each month. Put the card in a drawer and did not touch it. It only had a $500 limit, but all I cared about was getting the on time payments.
In late September I decided the time was right for a new car, and to my surprise I was approved for a 3% for 60 months loan through CapOne.
Since then I've been idling... my credit score has been inching up each month as I pay my bills on time. The hardest part was not attempting to apply for cards until I was fairly confident I would be approved as I didn't want to have too many inquiries.
Fast forward to last week... credit now approaching high 600's (660ex, 671tu & 682eq). Full two years in the foreclosure, full year since any late payments. I decided to research the best option for a travel hacking card that I could start with that had the best odds of being approved. I settled on the Chase United Mileage Explorer card. I had never been so nervous to hit a submit button on the online application. I figured at best I would get the 30 day notice, call the recon line and pray they approved me for the minimum. But I was approved instantly for a $9k limit!!!! Was head of heals excited.
But it didn't end there!
This was Friday just before lunch. Got approved, headed to lunch then back to my desk at work. Then it hit me... I remember reading that if you apply for two chase cards in the same day they usually don't pul you credit twice. So I thought what the hell... pulled up the app for CSP and submitted it. Got back the 30 day message. Immediately call the recon line. To my surprise all they did was verify me... and boom! approved with a 9k limit as well!
So other than having to spend 6k between the cards to get my bonus points/miles... nothing could be better!
Just wanted to share my excitement, and to anyone just starting out with repairing... know it can get better quicker than you think. I still have a ways to go, as I want to ultimately have credit in the high 700s. But I feel like I'm finally at the point where I have the credit to get decent credit cards, and decent rates on loans again.