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How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Score?

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Building a good credit score is a lot like training for a marathon: Develop good habits and avoid major setbacks, and you’ll set yourself up for success in the big race. Since it can take up to ten years for certain negative events to fall off your credit report, it’s important to avoid such events in the first place.

Payment history, how much debt you have and the length of your credit history are all factors that can affect your credit score. While there are a few ways to improve your credit scores quickly, it will take some time to boost your score significantly. After all, you can’t train for a marathon in a single day.

How long does it take to repair bad credit?

If you’ve missed some credit card payments or taken out a few too many loans, your credit score may need some work. Negative credit events like foreclosure, bankruptcy and even late loan payments can impact your score for years. Once you have negative marks on your credit report, it can take time to improve your credit score.

Fortunately, negative credit events will eventually fall off your credit reports. Here’s how long it takes for negative information to disappear from your credit report.

  • Hard credit inquiries: Two years
  • Late payments: Seven years
  • Missed payments: Seven years
  • Accounts sent to collections: Seven years
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: Seven years
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: 10 years
  • Tax liens: 10 years

While it takes years for these events to vanish from your report, you can help your score recover from smaller negative events in months. For example, your credit score can rebound from a hard credit inquiry in about three months, assuming you continue making smart financial choices.

How long does it take to build a good credit score?

If you haven’t started using credit yet, you won’t have a credit score. It takes about three to six months of credit activity before your credit score will be created. While that score doesn’t start at zero, it can take years to build a credit history that’s strong enough to receive an excellent score.

To start building a good credit score, consider the following steps:

  Open a new credit card

A common first step for building credit is getting a credit card. Not only can this help you establish a good payment history, but if you repay your debts each month, you can also benefit from a low credit utilization ratio.

  Become an authorized user

Piggybacking, or becoming an authorized user on a trusted friend or family member’s credit account, can help you establish a positive credit history.

  Make timely payments

As long as you pay your credit card bill each month, you can steadily boost your credit score. It won’t happen overnight, but future lenders will like to see that you’re able to meet your debt obligations.

  Take out different kinds of loans

One factor in credit scores is your credit mix. Lenders like to see that you’ve used different kinds of credit (credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, etc.). You shouldn’t take out credit accounts just for the sake of doing so, but a good mix of different loans can help your score.

Building an excellent credit score takes time. The length of your credit history is one factor in determining your score, and that’s not something that you can improve overnight. Even with consistently responsible choices, it may be several years before you can attain the highest possible score.

In the meantime, the best way to boost your credit score is to use credit responsibly. Pay your debts when they’re due, avoid using more than 30% of your available credit and avoid too many hard credit inquiries in a short period of time. It’s also important to review your credit reports periodically and dispute any errors.

What can I do to raise my credit score?

The three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and Transunion — collect and report your credit information, which they use to calculate your credit score. Lenders, in turn, use that score to determine your creditworthiness. If your score needs some work, start by taking the following steps:

Consistently make your payments on time

Your payment history is the biggest determining factor in your credit score. Lenders like to see evidence that you can make your payments on time. Building a steady record of credit payments can gradually help raise your credit score.

  How long does it take?

On-time payments start showing up on your credit report right away, but it can take six months or more of consistent payments to make a meaningful improvement to your score.

Use some available credit, but not too much

Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of available credit you have. For example, if your credit lines are a combined $10,000 and you have used $3,000 of your available credit, your utilization ratio would be 30%.

Generally, you want to keep that number at 30% or under, but you do want to use at least some of your available credit. A low ratio may be better for your score than not using any credit because it shows that you know how to use credit responsibly.

  How long does it take?

Depending on how much debt you have, you might be able to hit your target credit utilization ratio quickly. Consider using your credit card less to lower your ratio or using more to raise your ratio (and be sure to make on-time payments). Paying down old debt or opening new lines of credit can also change your credit utilization ratio.

Build a track record of credit usage

The length of your credit history affects your credit score: the longer you’ve had credit accounts open, the better. For that reason, you should consider not closing out your oldest credit cards. It can hurt your score if your credit accounts have not been open for very long.

  How long does it take?

Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes for a short credit history. Opening accounts and keeping them open for a while can gradually improve this part of your credit score.

Don’t open too many accounts too quickly

It can be a red flag to lenders if you open too many new credit accounts in a short time, especially if you don’t have a long credit history. Several new accounts can mean multiple hard credit inquiries, which drags down your credit score. New accounts can also hurt the average age of your credit.

Opening new accounts doesn’t necessarily hurt your score — and can actually improve it, in some cases — but lenders see it as risky if you’re opening many credit accounts.

  How long does it take?

If you’ve already opened several accounts, it will take some time for the average age of those accounts to improve and for you to establish a strong payment history.

Use different kinds of credit accounts

Lenders like to see you use a mix of credit accounts, including credit cards, personal loans, retail accounts, auto loans and mortgages. Your score can improve if your total credit line includes a variety of loan types, and even financing purchases from retailers can help improve your credit mix.

  How long does it take?

Opening new types of credit accounts too quickly can hurt your credit score, and you don’t want to open a credit line simply for the sake of doing so. But, over time, you’ll improve your score by opening different kinds of loans and making your payments on time.

Dispute errors on your credit report

You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months, but through December 2023, you can access your reports weekly. If you find inaccuracies, disputing those issues with the reporting credit bureau or creditor could help boost your score. For example, if there’s evidence of missed payments on a personal loan, but your lender’s records show that you never missed a payment, you could contact the credit reporting company to dispute the credit errors.

  How long does it take?

Fixing inaccuracies could lead to a jump in your credit score. If your score is much lower than you expected, there could be an error in the report dragging it down. Fixing that error could help your score immediately. Keep in mind that you cannot dispute accurate negative information.

 

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