By the time Wendy G. heard about Working Credit, she had already faced the devastating results so often attached to a financial catastrophe: The avalanche of late credit card payments and fees; the predatory loans she had used to stretch her paychecks to make the rent; the eviction notice she got when her desperate efforts only made her problems worse.

Through unrelenting work and determination, Wendy had also pulled herself back onto solid financial ground. But, the 51-year old says, she was ready for so much more. She was ready to thrive.

So when Ricki Lowitz, CEO of Working Credit, spoke at an event at Wendy’s job about the importance of having more than store credit cards—Wendy paid extremely close attention. “If your car breaks down, Victoria’s Secret isn’t going to come and save you!” Ricki told the group.

A new outlook
At that point, the career coach had only two store credit cards and student loans. However, like many people, she didn’t know that high utilization ratios (more than 30% of the credit limit on both cards) were keeping her score down. Wendy hadn’t paid much attention to her scores since 2016, the year she lost both her parents and fiancé within a span of two months, and then, as she puts it, “robbed Peter to pay Paul” to keep from sinking.

As a result, her credit score was subprime—around 590 (a prime score is above 660)—and she definitely didn’t have enough available credit that she could use, if say, her Nissan hatchback broke down.

“I wanted to have the peace of mind that if I wanted to, or needed to do something, I could,” Wendy said.

Experiencing the benefits of good credit
In May of 2018, in her first session with Working Credit, counselor Kristin Schell created a plan to raise Wendy’s score as well as her available credit: First, Wendy was to keep her utilization ratios on her existing cards below 30 percent. Second, she was to apply for a mainstream credit card. The strategy worked—Wendy’s score has since soared to the upper 680s and her credit limit has steadily increased to $12,000. The clincher to her success, however, came unexpectedly—when her hatchback broke down a month and a half ago, as she was driving to work.

“I was in a complete emergency when I went to the dealership,” Wendy said.

At first, the dealer told Wendy that the interest rate on her new car loan would be 4.85 percent. Confident that her prime credit score should earn a much lower rate, Wendy argued with the dealer for a better deal.

“I don’t know who he called, or if he was scared I was going to walk or what,” she remembered, “but when he came back, he offered a loan at .09 percent.”

Said Wendy: “I looked at the guy and said, ‘Did you just say .09 percent?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, is that okay?’ I nearly fell off my chair.”

Wendy drove away in a brand new 2019 Nissan Sentra, four-door sedan with a red exterior and a black interior. Today, from her apartment in Chicago, Wendy says that she is incredibly grateful that her journey is no longer filled with the trauma of worrying about how she will make it to the next paycheck, but rather with the happy thought of how she can make the most of the money and credit that she has earned.

Actual client account and original story written by Lori Teresa Yearwood. Story has been edited for length only and names and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.