Whether you are a creditor giving good or bad news to a client, or an applicant who is requesting credit, or a review of the creditor’s decision, credit letters should be well written, courteous and to the point. Regardless of who is writing the letter, or the purpose of the letter, the same rules apply.
Credit letters from a creditor can be written for a number of reasons; to approve or deny a loan, advise of an impending collection, to request payment, or an invitation to apply for credit. The customer may wish to write a credit letter requesting the correction or removal of inaccurate information on their credit report, to advise when a past due payment will be made, to request a loan or an increase on a credit limit. Here are some tips for writing effective credit letters.
Be courteous: Whatever you put in writing becomes indelible and difficult to erase or retract once it has been mailed or emailed. Watch your tone very carefully and try not to let your emotions get in the way. If the customer’s credit report left you less than impressed, be professional about it and keep any tone of distaste out of the letter. If as a customer you are upset about an error made, ensure that you are sufficiently calm before writing your letter. Remember that we all make mistakes and you are simply and professionally requesting a correction.
Be concise and to the point: If you are denying credit, clearly outline the reasons for the denial. Make it brief, avoid chit chat or beating around the bush. Be professional and nice about it as you will want to keep that customer’s business in the future. Invite the customer to apply again at a later time and let them know that you value their business.
Include pertinent details: You may be a customer requesting credit or changes to you credit in a credit letter. Be sure to include all the details that would eliminate any second guessing on the part of the creditor. If the creditor has to contact you for clarification on minor details, your application may be placed at the bottom of the pile until they can get to it. Indicate the amount you require, the reason, the payments you can make, when, how and so forth.
Paying attention to the structure of the credit letter is just as important as the content. Letter writing skills today leave much to be desired in an age of email and text messaging. However, whether your letter is in the form of an email or the traditional letter, the same principles and professionalism apply. As a customer writing a credit letter, a good idea would be to first write or type a draft of what you want to say, read it over, edit and rewrite. The draft could include an outline: introduction, request, details and closing.
When you are ready to write the credit letter, include your name address and telephone number and email address in the upper left hand corner of the page. A business or creditor would normally have a letterhead. If you would like a letterhead, it is easy to create one from the many templates available online. A couple spaces below this information, enter the name and address of the creditor or credit bureau followed by the date. If required, you may need to enter a social security number or an account number also.
Now we get to the body of the letter. It is always better to have a name to address your letter to directly in the salutation portion. However, if you don’t have a name, “To Whom it may Concern”, will work just as well. The salutation should be two spaces after the date and the text of your letter, another two spaces after the salutation. We have already talked about being courteous, concise and to the point and the body of your credit letter should reflect this. Use paragraphs to separate different portions of the text, use proper grammar and spell check. End the credit letter with “Sincerely” or Thank You”, two spaces below the last line and print, sign and/or type your name.
Writing a credit letter does not have to be a chore for the consumer. It is a valuable tool when used to make a request of your creditors, to correct flawed information and to communicate with your coeditor for any number of reasons. Whether the communication is from the creditor or the consumer, the purpose is similar; to share information, to inform, or to advise. It is essential that any credit letter be written in such a way as not to alienate or offend the receiver, but to provide the receiver with clear, courteous and precise information or instructions.