How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Score?


A person holding a credit card as they type the numbers into an open laptop.

Here are a few tips for those without credit and those who want to improve a low credit score. 

At one point or another, most people have wondered how long it takes to improve their credit score. The short answer is that it depends on whether you’re starting from scratch and what types of actions led to a low credit score in the first place. Let’s take at look some scenarios.

Building a credit score from scratch

It typically takes three to six months of regular credit activity to build a credit score if you’ve never used credit before.

Many people establish a credit record by using a credit card. However, if you can’t get a credit card because you don’t have a credit history there’s a work-around. A secured credit card, where you have funds on deposit and are prevented from going over the limit, can help establish a credit history as you regularly pay off the card each month.

Another way to establish a credit history is by making regular, on-time payments to an installment loan, such as student loan or auto loan.

Actions that will lower a credit score

The time it takes to rebuild a credit score after an event that lowers it depends on what led to the decrease.

Applying for new credit, such a credit card or home loan, closing a credit account or maxing out a credit card may lower your score for three months.

Missing a payment may count against your score for up to two years.

The event that affects a credit score the longest is bankruptcy. If you file for bankruptcy your credit score could be damaged for 7-10 years.

Building up your credit score

There are several ways to help improve your credit score. The longer you put these practices in action, the healthier your credit score will be:

  • Make all credit card and loan payments on time every month.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards and lines of credit. Maintaining your credit spending to 30% or less of your limits will help boost your credit score.
  • Limit how often you apply for credit. Store card promotions, such as 10% off a purchase, may not be worth it in terms of how it could negatively affect your credit score.

Monitor your credit score and learn more

Maintaining a healthy credit score is key to making sure you don’t end up spending more than necessary on loan interest rates. With the Consumers Credit Score Feature, you can monitor credit score as often as you like for free.

Discover more about ways to improve your credit score by watching Consumers’ Your Money. Your Life | Credit Score video with Scott Dobson.

Consumers provides banking services for more than 126,000 members. If you have banking questions, call us at 800-991-2221. We make it easy to bank how you want, when you want.

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