We are used to things moving quickly in the modern world. We have fast phones, fast cars and fast computer processors. Since we are no longer accustomed to waiting, we seem to think everything moves at the speed of light. Because of this attitude, many believe they can also transform their bad credit score over night. Just how quickly can you turn around a poor score? We outline the facts below.
What is a Credit Score?
Many who are desperate to increase their credit score do not actually know what the score represents. Basically, your credit score represents your ability to pay back debt. To banks, it communicates whether you can be trusted with a loan. A high credit score proves you have historically made payments on credit cards and other loans. A low score may indicate you have struggled to make timely payments or have not made payments at all.
A number of factors determine your credit score, including the length of lines of credit, your debt-to-credit ratio, the types of accounts you have and the age of your accounts. Low balances on your accounts and a long history of consistent payments can get you an excellent score in a relatively short period of time. On the other hand, if you regularly miss payments in a short period of time, your score will drop quickly. When you understand how credit scores work, you can figure out how to improve yours.
How Long Will It Take To Increase Your Credit Score?
Payments can take between one and six months to show up on your credit report, depending on when your issuer sends the information to the credit bureaus. For example, if you pay off your car on April 1 and apply for a new loan on April 20, your last payment will likely not yet be on your credit report. You can get paperwork from your previous lender to prove you have paid the debt, but your credit score will not change until the information appears on your report.
Even if you do everything right, it will take several months for your score to increase. This does not mean you should ignore your credit or do anything that could damage it, as this will eventually affect your score. You do need to be realistic about the timeline. It can take some people a year or two to get their score over 700, while others seem stuck in the low 600s. The people who successfully raise their scores are the ones who take the steps they need to improve their credit.
How Can You Improve Your Score?
The sooner you begin taking the steps to improve your credit, the sooner you will see a better score. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Make all payments on time. While lenders may not immediately report a missed payment to the credit bureaus, you should still try to make all payments on time. When you make payments before the due date, you build a positive credit history.
- Lower your balance. If you have reached the credit limit on all of your credit cards, you need to pay down the balances. Do not try to get a higher credit limit, just make payments until you owe 30% or less on every card.
- Don’t close accounts. If you find yourself in deep debt, you may feel compelled to cut up your cards so you cannot rack up more debt and hurt your score. However, you will be rewarded for keeping cards open for a long period of time. As long as you are not charging items you cannot afford, you should keep your accounts open. Over time, they will increase your score.
- Don’t apply for new cards. You can apply for new credit cards, but do not submit excessive applications. Whenever a potential lender pulls your credit, your score could go down slightly. Only apply for cards you really want and need, and look for cards you can qualify for, based on your credit score.
Your number one goal should be creating a consistent record of payments on your credit report. This shows that you can manage your finances well, meaning you can be trusted with money. Once you adopt the skills needed to build good credit, it will be easier to get a high score.
How quickly can you raise your credit score? The answer is largely up to you. While it may only take a few months to get results, it is more likely that it could take years. It depends on how strictly you maintain good credit habits. If you are diligent in your efforts, you will eventually see a higher score.