How Long Does it Take to Build Credit?
Building up a good credit score from scratch or trying to repair a bad one can seem like an arduous and lengthy task. That’s because it usually is. However, this is no cause for despair. With smart decisions and financial discipline, the rocky road to good credit gets significantly easier.
So, how long does it take to build credit? Well, it won’t happen overnight. Sometimes it takes years of work. On the other hand, if you’re starting from scratch, you can shape your credit score in as little as three to six months. Join us as we dissect every step you can take to ensure you’re making the right decisions and staying on the right path to an excellent credit score.
What is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a three-digit number that represents an individual’s creditworthiness. In the United States, lenders use a consumer’s credit score to evaluate the potential risk of approving loan applications and determining the credit rates. So, how do credit scores work?
Credit scores are numerical representations. There are two main types of credit scores: FICO and VantageScore. The FICO score is the one most financial institutions take into consideration when making a decision. The credit score range is 300-850. The institutions charged with calculating consumer credit scores are called credit bureaus.
There are three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. A consumer’s credit data, including the score, is laid out in credit reports. By law, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each bureau. These credit reports may not be identical, and not all lenders report to all three bureaus.
Credit Report Ranges
Everyone wants a quick answer to the same question: how long does it take to build a good credit score? But before you can figure that out, you should familiarize yourself with what constitutes a good score. Here are the credit score tiers:
- 300 to 579 - Poor
- 580 to 669 - Fair
- 670 to 739 - Good
- 740 to 799 - Very Good
- 800 to 850 - Excellent
Credit scores are also used by employers and landlords to assess the financial standing of prospective applicants. To what extent bad credit affects your job prospects depends on the state you’re in. Thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, an employer can’t pull a credit check without your written consent. Yet, refusing someone access to your report can cost you the job opportunity.
When people find themselves in this situation, they often ask the same question: how long does it take to build up good credit? Another reason why this is important is because credit scores determine your ability to borrow money.
As you might’ve guessed, the bigger the credit score, the better. With poor and fair scores, you’ll struggle to get approved by lenders, and you might end up with astronomical fees when you finally get the approval.
On the other hand, those with very good and excellent credit scores won’t have any problems getting loans and have access to the best interest rates and the lowest down payments.
How Long Does it Take to Build Credit and How to Do it?
While repairing your credit score can often be a grueling process, building good credit from scratch is somewhat easier. According to Experian, a credit bureau that collects data on more than 200 million U.S. consumers, building your credit from scratch takes between three and six months. At their core, credit scores represent an approximation of how likely you are to repay your loans on time.
As such, credit-related behavior, like getting a credit card or paying off a loan, is instrumental to building your credit and determines what your credit score will look like. In other words, you need to perform credit-related actions until your credit file becomes thick enough for your credit score to be calculated.
So, how long does it take to build good credit from no credit? It all depends on your credit-related behavior and the added time it takes lenders to report that information to credit bureaus. You might be led to believe that only young people don't have a credit score yet. But that’s not true. According to data from 2019, 22% of American adults are without a credit score.
Since credit scores are incredibly important for many aspects of our everyday lives, it’s crucial that you get your starter credit score as soon as possible and as high as possible. Below you’ll find a list of things you can do to build your credit score and speed up the overall process.
Become an Authorized User on Someone Else’s Account
Consumers wondering how long does it take to build good credit are probably most interested in methods that lead to the quickest credit formation possible. Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account is definitely not the quickest way to do it. However, it’s a pretty easy way to enrich your credit file.
If you have people close to you that happen to have good credit, it’s definitely worth asking them to add you as an authorized user to their account. That will allow you to benefit from their good credit and their credit history, adding and diversifying the credit information on your file.
Understandably, not everyone will be willing to add you as an authorized user - your best chance lies with relatives or your spouse. Is this one of the fastest ways to build credit? Probably not, but it can help you immensely in beefing up your credit file.
More importantly, when you’re an authorized user, you’re not held responsible for paying the charges on the account. If you’re wondering how to raise your credit score, this is one of the easiest methods out there but needs to be used in conjunction with other steps we’ll disclose here.
And don’t worry! You don’t actually have to use the card in order to benefit from this step, being authorized is enough.
Obtain a Credit Card
The fastest way to raise credit score is definitely through credit cards. Obtaining a credit card, and making regular on-time payments is a quick and sure way to fill-up your credit file and raise your score. This is largely due to the fact that credit card issuers report information to the bureaus on a monthly basis.
Before you run off to get a credit card and obtain your starting credit score, you should learn to differentiate between secured and unsecured credit cards. Most people use unsecured cards. Unfortunately, while you’re trying to build a credit score, you probably won’t be able to get an unsecured credit card. There are choices, such as starter and alternative cards, but your options are definitely limited.
You’ll have a much better chance and more options with secured credit cards. A secured credit card requires a security deposit and prohibits you from spending beyond your limit. This is how the card issuer reduces the risk involved in giving out credit cards to consumers without a credit score.
Whichever card you get, make sure you keep your balance to only a portion of your available sum if you want to get a good credit score. Those wondering how long does it take to build credit with a secured credit card might be surprised to learn that the average length of time is similar with all cards.
On average, it takes 30-45 days for the issuer to report to the credit bureaus and add your activity to your credit file. Maintain financial discipline while using these cards, and you’ll build your credit in a few months.
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Pay off Loans
Another tried-and-true method of building credit is via installment loans. Getting an installment loan and paying it off on time can further speed up the credit building process. If your lender reports your activity to the credit bureaus, regular payments will automatically enhance your credit history, raising your credit score.
However, late payments and any kind of financial missteps can quickly ruin your efforts.
Another option worth considering are so-called credit-builder loans. With a credit-builder loan, the lender usually won’t let you access the money until you’ve paid off the loan in full. This way, the lenders don’t risk anything by offering loans to borrowers with poor credit scores.
But these loans will enable you to build both your savings and credit score at the same time. If you’re among those consumers who are still wondering what’s a credit score and you’re getting ready to embark on your credit building journey, credit-builder loans can be a great and safe way to beef up your credit file.
Actions that Affect your Credit Score
Once you’ve built up your starter FICO credit score, it’s time to start working towards good and excellent credit. In order to do that successfully, you first need to know which actions actually affect your credit score, positively or negatively. The credit data used to calculate your FICO score is grouped into five categories. Here’s what FICO scores take into account:
- Length of credit history: 15%
- New credit: 10%
- Credit mix: 10%
- Amounts owed: 30%
- Payment history: 35%
As you can see, the amounts owed and the payment history weigh the most on your FICO score. As such, using less than 30% of your available credit and making regular payments is imperative to improving your score. As we’ve mentioned, building up good credit takes time, but tanking your score can take only a month or two of missed payments.
You shouldn’t just be asking how long does it take to build good credit. You also need to know that a single late payment can set you back months.
Key Strategies for Building Good Credit
While FICO scores can surely be a slippery slope, a proper strategy and financial responsibility can almost guarantee that you’ll reach the upper echelons of credit scoring. We’ve outlined our key strategies for building good credit. If you follow these consistently, your FICO score is sure to steadily improve, and you won’t be left with bad credit.
Don’t Miss Payments
This is probably one of the most important aspects of keeping your credit score in check. If you want to know how to get a 700 credit score, this step is paramount. Even a single payment that’s 30 days overdue can undo months of good work. Always focus on making timely payments.
Stay on Top of Credit Reports
Always make sure to get your free credit reports from the three credit bureaus and monitor your credit rating. The free reports can be accessed at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find any mistakes in the credit report, make sure to dispute them with the bureau in question.
Keep Your Credit Utilization Rate Below 30%
The amount of money you owe has a significant impact on your FICO score, and credit bureaus pay very close attention to those figures. The exact implications of this on your credit score was explained in one of our previous sections, which noted that you shouldn’t use more than 30% of your available credit.
Don’t Get Too Many Credit Cards
While credit cards are key to building your credit, taking out too many of them can have a negative effect. This is because credit card issuers perform hard credit checks when determining whether to issue a card. Unlike soft checks, hard credit checks temporarily reduce your credit score.
All of these strategies are meant to be used in conjunction with one another. Don’t stray from the path and keep your credit card accounts open, as the length of your credit history also plays a huge part in keeping your credit score high.
How long does it take to get a 700 credit score?
The first thing to ask is how long does it take to establish credit? This process takes between three to six months. After that, the amount of time you’ll need to get to 700 depends on your starter score. With smart financial decisions, you can make a 100-point jump in a couple of months.
How fast can you raise your credit score?
The fastest you can raise your credit score is in 30 days. That’s because credit card issuers are the ones that most frequently report your actions to the credit bureaus, and they do so every month.
Is it true that after 7 years your credit is clear?
Late payments do disappear from your credit score after seven years.
What can I do with a 800 credit score?
The first thing you should do with an excellent credit score is be proud. This offers a long list of advantages, including low-interest rates on cards and loans and better chances of approval. Unfortunately, a lot of people have never experienced anything but bad credit scores. If you’re trying to figure out how long does it take to build credit, check out our guide for all the details.
I have always thought of myself as a writer, but I began my career as a data operator with a large fintech firm. This position proved invaluable for learning how banks and other financial institutions operate. Daily correspondence with banking experts gave me insight into the systems and policies that power the economy. When I got the chance to translate my experience into words, I gladly joined the smart, enthusiastic Fortunly team.