Your credit score is arguably the most important number in your financial life. If you have bad credit, it can feel like all your financial doors are closed. Whether you missed your mortgage payments or filed bankruptcy due to circumstances beyond your control, such things can take a major hit on your credit score. So, how long does it take to fix your credit score? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The time it takes varies depending on your financial situation. For example, if you missed several payments within the past two years, it might take longer to rebuild your credit.
While there’s no definitive answer, keep reading to learn approximately how long it takes to fix your credit score, the factors that cause bad credit, and the fastest way to improve it.
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What Factors Cause Bad Credit?
Your credit score reflects your credit history, and poor financial decisions can lower your score. Here are some of the factors that contribute to poor credit scores:
Late Payment of Bills
Payment history is the most crucial aspect of credit scoring, and one late payment may negatively impact your score. In fact, payment history accounts for roughly 35% of your credit score. Lenders will always want to confirm your ability to repay a loan on time when evaluating your eligibility for new credit.
If you have missed payments for more than a month, creditors will probably report your information to the major credit bureaus, which is then recorded in your credit report.
People file for bankruptcy for various reasons. If you’re unable to repay your debts, filing a bankruptcy may be your last resort to obtain legal protection. It may seem like a good option, but it may significantly damage your FICO score.
Depending on the type of bankruptcy you file, the information will be recorded in your credit report and remain for seven to 10 years. Lenders are more reluctant to loan to borrowers with histories of bankruptcies due to the nature of their complexity.
When lenders cannot secure payments from a borrower, they use third parties, typically debt collection agencies, to collect the unpaid amounts. Creditors hire or sell the delinquent debt to these companies before or after charging off a borrower’s account.
This information is often recorded in the credit report. And if a history of poor collections isn’t repaired, it might pose more challenges when trying to secure a loan in the future.
If a borrower’s account remains delinquent for an extended period of time, chances are a creditor will charge off the account. A charge-off is a declaration that the creditor has given up pursuing debt after the borrower missed payments for several months. Just because your account has been charged off doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You’re still responsible for paying back the debt.
When an account is charged off, the information is sent to credit bureaus, which remains in the report for seven years. With this, your credit score will take a major hit.
Defaulting on Loans
Defaulting on loan payments is treated like a charge-off. Creditors will mark your account as “default” if you miss one or more payments. The information is also submitted to credit bureaus, eventually hurting your credit score. With this information, potential lenders will view you as a high-risk borrower and may not loan you.
How Long It Usually Takes to Fix Your Credit Score
The time it takes to recover your credit score after a negative mark on your credit report depends on your unique situation and other factors, including:
- The number of negative marks on your credit report
- The type of negative information recorded
- The age of the information
- Where your credit score was before it dropped
If you lately damaged your credit, the time it takes to repair it depends on where the impairment has occurred. Here are common negative marks on credit scores and how long it takes to fix them.
Errors and High Credit Utilization: 1 to 3 Months
Humans are to error. Mistakes happen, and your credit report is not an exception. In addition, creditors can report wrong information unknowingly, which can hurt your scores. Therefore, it’s prudent to regularly review your credit report for mistakes from the three major credit bureaus.
If you notice an error in your report, file a dispute. The bureau will remove the mistake if they find that the information was erroneously included. Disputing such errors and corrections made typically takes one to three months.
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Hard Inquiries: 12 to 24 Months
Every time you apply for a loan or a new credit card, creditors will request to take a look at your credit report so they can know your level of risk as a borrower. The request made is called a hard inquiry. Sad to say, hard inquiries can cause your score to drop slightly.
There’s no fast way to repair hard inquiries; fixing them may take 12 to 24 months. But you can lower the negative impact by getting pre-approved 一 this is a soft credit check, and it won’t affect your score.
Late Payments: 18 to 24 Months
As mentioned earlier, payment history contributes up to 35% of your credit score. Lenders always look at your scores to ascertain your creditworthiness and ability to repay on time.
Late payments stay on your credit report for as long as seven years, and the impact reduces over time if you work on improving it. It could take 24 months to see your credit score rebound after a history of late payments.
Foreclosures and Bankruptcy: 7 to 10 years
A foreclosure remains on your credit report for as long as seven years, after which credit bureaus will remove it. On the other hand, bankruptcies can stay for seven to 10 years on your report, depending on whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Fastest Ways to Help You Fix Your Credit Score
Fixing your credit score after the damage often takes time. However, there are proven ways that can help quicken the process.
Always review your credit report for errors. If you find any mistakes, dispute them. Once the credit report errors have been removed, you’ll start seeing your scores improve.
Ask for a Credit Limit Increase
If you used a lot of your available credit each month and always made your credit card payments on time, consider requesting a credit card limit increase from your credit card issuer. A lower credit utilization ratio is a great way to improve your credit score.
Get A Credit Builder Account
Credit builders are growing in popularity for a good reason; they can help you improve your credit scores quickly. Self is a credit builder mobile app that will help you build credit or improve your scores while saving money.
When you open a Self credit builder account, you’ll pay a small non-refundable admin fee, followed by 12 to 24 monthly installments. At the end of the repayment period, you get the loan proceeds minus interest. Download the Self app today and move one step closer to fixing your credit score.
Pay Off Debt
Another effective way to improve your credit is to pay off debt. Of course, it’s always a good idea to start with high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, and avoid missing payments.
Make Timely Payments
Consistent, timely payments will have a positive impact on your credit scores. If you’re forgetful, setting up automatic payments or reminders will always help you make on-time payments.
Improve Your Spending Habits
Another important factor to consider when working on your damaged score is how you spend your money. If you’re always in a debt cycle, it’s time to spend less than you bring to avoid sinking into debt, which can potentially damage your scores.