Hand holding a smartphone with scredit score rating
Betsy Wise
By: betsy_wise
Read in 16 minutes

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit? Ultimate Guide

You may wonder how long does it take to build credit before you can qualify for a loan.

Your goal is to establish a credit score with the credit bureaus that accumulate the financial information of individuals and businesses.

Then, financial institutions such as banks and online lenders analyze this credit data to decide whether you can repay a loan.

In this post, you’ll learn how long it takes to create or build a credit score in various circumstances.

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Why Does It Take Time To Build Credit?

There are many factors that contribute to why it takes time to build credit. One of the main reasons is that credit scoring models generally look at your credit history over a long period.

If you’re just starting out, you may not have much of a credit history.

For example, let’s say you’ve never used a credit card to make purchases or applied for a loan. There will be no financial records or only a thin credit file for credit bureaus to calculate a score.

Another reason is that it can take time to establish a pattern of responsible credit use.

For example, if you only use your credit card for emergencies, it may not look like you’re using credit responsibly to a lender.

Likewise, they can’t tell if you’re a responsible creditor just from one month of payment history information; they need more time to get a more accurate picture.

Finally, keep in mind that building credit is a slow process. Even if you do everything right, it can still take months or years to see a significant change in your credit score.

How long before you get a FICO score?
6 months.

How Is A Credit Score Calculated?

Credit reporting agencies calculate your total score using these five areas and percentages of credit utilization:

  • payment history (35%)
  • total debts (30%)
  • credit history length (15%)
  • new credit accounts (10%)
  • types of credit accounts or credit mix (10%)

A FICO score will vary per credit profile based on how the five factors above change over time.

There are many credit scoring models, the ones shown here are the most common.

Your score will fall anywhere between 300 and 850.

  • 720 to 850: excellent credit
  • 690 to 719: good credit
  • 630 to 689: fair credit
  • 300 to 629: poor credit

How Long Does It Take To Build Credit?

As you build your score steadily, you show lenders that you can handle your finances responsibly. Remember, longevity works in your favor.

But knowing how long it will take you to build credit is not an exact science. Credit reporting agencies don’t advertise this type of information.

How long it takes you to create a credit score will depend on many factors and can vary from person to person.

Nevertheless, it’s possible to know how long it can take on average.

How Long Does It Take To Build Credit From Nothing? (No Previous Credit History)

To create a credit score, you must have a history of personal and business financial transactions that reflect purchases you made on credit and a record of payments.

Over time, those details become a permanent credit history indicating how well you handle money.

So, how long does it take to build credit?

On average, it could take you up to six months to establish credit from scratch. This is true, at least, for a FICO Score, the most used score. Other scores, like the VantageScore, can take a month or two.

This means that six months of credit activity is enough for bureaus to get a good idea of what type of credit user you are.

This means you need to have at least one credit account open for this time and make sure the financial institution reports your payments to credit bureaus.

If you play your cards correctly, you can have a decent credit score after that period.

Building credit from the ground up and achieving an excellent credit history are two different things. While getting your first score might not take that long, working your way up the credit ladder to an excellent score is more time-consuming.

If you want to get a good or an excellent credit score, you’ll have to continuously work to get there.

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Credit Score?

While creating a credit score from scratch is (relatively) quick, improving your existing credit can take longer. Honestly, it depends on why you’re trying to get a better credit score.

If You Just Created Your Credit History And Want It To Get Better

This is not an impossible thing to do, but it will take time and patience. Just know that you’ll need to work little by little. You can even boost your credit score by 60 points in 60 days.

Something as simple as consistently paying your bills on time, consolidating credit card debt, and paying off credit card balances each month raises your score exponentially.

How much time it actually takes you will depend on your current credit score and what’s your credit goal.

For example, if you have a bad credit score in the 500s, and you want to get somewhere along 650, it could take you from 12 to 18 months.

On the other hand, getting to an excellent score can take a bit longer, even several years.

If Your Credit Score Has Been Previously Damaged

If you’re in this situation, rebuilding your credit will take a lot of time.

Significant problems in your report can take years to disappear from your credit history. For example:

👉 collection accounts, missed payments, and foreclosures stay on your record for 7 years

👉 bankruptcies remain on your record for up to 10 years

And after that period is over, you’ll have to continually work to help your score recover, which can take some more years.

How Long Does It Take To Rebuild Credit At A Glance

ActionAverage recovery time
Getting a new credit account3 months
Closing a credit account3 months
Maxing out a credit card3 months
Missing a payment18 – 24 months
Bankruptcy7-10 years

With information from VantageScore.

Hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for 2 years.

Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

  • With a loan. It’s better to take out a credit builder loan with a payment you can afford and terms no longer than 24 months. The key is always to make on-time payments. Some lenders will report payments beyond 30 days to the 3 credit bureaus.
  • With a credit card. Your first credit card should have a low spending limit. Making small purchases and repaying the debt on time creates a positive credit profile in very little time.
  • New vs. old credit cards. Limit the number of new credit card accounts you open and don’t close unused ones to avoid increasing your credit utilization ratio.
  • With a secured credit card. Lenders will require a security deposit before issuing a secured credit card. However, as long as you make timely payments, you’ll see an uptick in your score in 1-2 months.
  • Reporting rent. By reporting the rent you pay to the credit bureaus, your credit score can go up in as little as 3 weeks. Ask your property manager to report your rent. If they don’t, you can do it.
  • Reporting utilities. Get an Experian Boost by reporting utility and telecom payments.
  • Become an authorized user. Open a joint account with someone who has a credit history. Both of you should share the cost of the payments and any interest charges. By becoming an authorized user on a joint account, you learn how to repay debt and start building a credit history.
  • Purchase electronics. Buy electronic gadgets in installments. Make sure to verify that the retailer reports your payments to the major credit bureaus by getting a free credit report from one of the three bureaus.
  • Other credit-building actions. Never exceed 30% of your credit limit, limit the number of credit applications, and open a checking account.

Avoid These Credit-Harming Actions

  • Routinely failing to pay your bills on time. Creditors report untimely payments to credit bureaus which results in credit score decreases.
  • Having too many outstanding debts results in an increased debt to income ratio. Ratios reflecting more than 43% debt adversely affect your credit score.
  • Overusing your credit limit. Your goal is only to use 30% of your total available credit. For example, when you have 4 credit cards that total $2,000 in available credit, total purchases should equal $600.
  • Continuing to fill out credit applications when you can’t pay your existing debts. Each time a person applies for credit, the creditor checks your credit report, called a hard inquiry. Too many of these requests at one time harm your credit.
  • Failing to monitor your credit report. It’s your job to review your credit report at least once a year or more to catch erroneous errors posted to your account. Then, you can take steps to have those entries removed.
  • Other credit-harming actions. Closing a zero balance credit card, moving balances to one card, and co-signing on someone’s credit application.

A low credit score is a red flag that tells lenders that you don’t repay debt. To offset this negative image, pay off debt, and keep credit card balances low or paid off.

If You’re In These Situations, Take Steps To Recover Your Credit ASAP

If you’re in one of the following scenarios, start strengthening your credit score as soon as possible.

Alternatively, if you’re not in one of them, avoid them at all costs!

After A Late Payment

Your credit history makes up 35% of your credit score.

If making late payments isn’t a habit and you now make on-time payments, ask the creditor to remove any late payment notations from your credit report.

Whenever possible, start making multiple payments each month. If you see these payments recorded by mistake, dispute those entries and ask creditors to remove them.

After Closing An Account

By closing a long-standing account, you lose the available credit as well as credit history.

It’s better to keep accounts open with high credit limits and low balances. Closing one account has a minor credit score impact, but closing several at once could cause your FICO score to dip significantly if total balances exceed 35%.

In that situation, it could take up to 3 months to recover your prior credit status.

After Bankruptcy

Depending on the type of bankruptcy and current laws, bankruptcies can stay on your credit report for 7 to 10 years.

That doesn’t mean you wait until the bureaus remove them to build your credit. You can cosign a loan, get a joint account, or pay bills on time.

It’s important to start rebuilding credit as soon as possible.

After A Foreclosure

Figuring out what caused the foreclosure is the first step to improving your credit score so a loan default never happens again.

You can work with a credit counselor, create a budget and stick to it, and get a secured credit card to start building credit.

After A Debt Settlement

If you settled a debt with a creditor, you were unable to make payments for at least six months.

Once you pay off the settled debt, keep checking your credit report for updates. Then, start applying for small amounts of debt, such as store or gas cards.

Make it a rule to pay these off in full and on time. Then, you can take on more credit as your credit score improves.

After Maxing Out A Credit Card

Get control of overspending and create a spending plan within your budget.

Avoid taking on new debt, negotiate a comfortable repayment plan, and see if the credit card companies will reduce the interest rate.

After Creditor Charge-Off

When a creditor decides they can’t collect a debt from you, they may write off the amount, which adversely affects your credit score.

Contact the creditor and ask them to contact the credit bureaus to remove the charge-off entry once you pay the debt in full.

Public Records

Civil judgments, tax liens, and money owed to the IRS used to be part of a credit score.  But the three major credit bureaus removed them.

It’s important to review your credit report regularly to make sure these entries never appear on your report.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions reported that roughly 11% of consumers saw their FICO scores go up 30 points after the deletion of this information.

It’s also important to build credit for your business.

Be Careful With Your Credit History

Building credit doesn’t happen overnight but harming it can. The worst credit scenario is to put building excellent credit on hold before starting or expanding a business.

The key to success is responsible credit habits.

Camino Financial has an immediate solution for you to achieve your business ownership goals. We issue small business loans to no-credit score applicants.

That’s right.

After reviewing your complete financial picture, it’s possible to qualify for a loan without a previous credit history.

Because we believe in our motto, “No Business Left Behind,” we do everything possible to help business owners start and build their businesses.

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How can I get a 720-credit score in 6 months?

Follow these tips:

  • Take out a loan
  • Open a new credit card account
  • Limit the number of accounts you open
  • Don’t close paid-off accounts
  • Open a secured credit card
  • Ask your landlord to submit your rent payments
  • Report utilities to Experian
  • Open an account with someone who has already established credit
  • Make installment payments to purchase electronics

Are 6 months enough to build credit?

Yes, it’s possible when you take the steps already mentioned. You should see changes within 2 months and could see your credit score improve by 100 points within 6 months.

How long does it take to build credit the first time?

When good credit habits become the norm to build a favorable credit profile, your credit score should steadily increase. You’ll see notable improvement within 6 months. A credit-builder loan is a great tool in this case.

How long does it take to get a 600-credit score?

A 600 credit score falls within the fair range. By making consistent, positive changes in how you manage money, you should reach this score within 3 – 4 months, on average.

How long does it take to get a 700-credit score?

Getting a good credit score of 700 will take you 6-7 months of credit-building actions to reach.

How long does it take to get an 800-credit score?

As long as you consistently follow credit-building guidelines, you should have an excellent credit score within 2+ years. A high score indicates to creditors and credit bureaus that you can manage money responsibly.


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