Typically it takes about three to six months of healthy practices to establish a solid baseline of credit. Of course something to be aware of is this timeline is different for everyone. It’s possible you may start to see positive changes as early as a few months, but most importantly, remember that building and maintaining credit is a lifelong practice.
Did you know that your credit score doesn’t exactly start from zero when you get your first credit card? On average everyone starts around a 300 (it’s like getting points on a exam just for putting your name on the test). There are lots of factors that go into determining your credit health. Whether you’re just getting started on your credit journey or you’ve been in the game for a while, building your credit takes a bit of strategy.
Since no two credit score journeys are the same we’ve put together what you need to know and some tips to keep your credit on track.
How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?
In general, here are the factors considered in credit score calculations. Depending on the scoring model used, the weight each factor carries as far as impacting a credit score may vary.
- Payment history. Do you have a history of consistent, on-time payments or a record of late payments and delinquencies?
- Credit utilization. How much of your credit are you using?
- Length of credit history. How long have you had credit to your name?
- Credit mix. Can you responsibly manage a variety of credit, from loans to credit cards?
- New credit. Do you have new hard inquiries on your report that have caused your score to dip?
These are the core factors that impact your credit health, but again, every situation is different. Your credit health will come together based on your unique financial situation. These factors impact the scores of all credit users, whether you’re the new kid on the block or you’ve been around for a while.
Building Credit From Scratch
If you are just starting out with your credit, it will most likely take closer to six months to see any significant changes in your credit health. That’s because you likely don’t have a significant enough credit history for lenders to go off of. You likely won’t be able to get the best type of card being offered, but if you use it responsibly (paying the full amount on time, keeping your utilization under 30%, etc.) it will help you establish good credit practices and help you build a strong credit score.
If you are further along in your credit history and your credit score is suffering it will take time to rebuild your credit. As for a timeline it all depends on where you’re starting and how much work you have ahead of you. For example, if you had a few rounds of late payments and are working to pay off that extra interest, six months or so of strict on-time and full payments will help you see progress.
On the other hand, if you have negative items on your credit report such as a past bankruptcy, collections or foreclosure, these can stay on your credit report for seven to 10 years. Even regular payments and healthy credit usage won’t fix your credit in a few months. It will likely take longer for you to see a significant boost in your score.
Here Are 6 Ways We Recommend How to Build Credit Faster
If you credit score is in the 400s, 500s, or 600s you are probably eager to get into the 700s & 800s range. There are some things that you can do to help you bump up your score quickly without compromising your credit health.
Here are some of the best moves you can make to build up your score and establish healthy long-term credit habits.
1. Regularly Check Your Credit Report
Your credit report is one of the best ways to help you maintain good credit health. It is important for you to keep checking your report regularly to ensure that everything is accurate and up to date. This way when you see something that doesn’t make sense or is inaccurate you will be able to address it sooner. You can request a free credit report every year from each of the three bureaus. There are also many credit monitoring services you can sign up for that will monitor your credit scores each month.
2. Sign Up for a Secured Credit Card
A secured credit card requires a cash deposit as collateral. This is ideal for young and new credit users: Since you likely have little to no credit history for lenders to base their approval off of, putting up money will give them something to fall back on if you fail to make payments. Using a secured credit card responsibly for some time will help you establish a strong baseline of credit health and open the door to cards with higher limits and more benefits.
3. Pay Down Your Debts
A great way to build your credit is to pay down your credit card debt. When you put more money into your bill payments each month it decreases your credit utilization, positively contributes to your payment history and shows lenders that you can responsibly manage loan payments. You can use tricks like the snowball method to shrink your loan payments.
4. Become an Authorized User
Becoming an authorized user is a smart move if you’re just starting to build credit, it is a popular choice among parents of teenagers or college students. Authorized users have permission to use the cardholder’s account but aren’t solely responsible for the bill.
If you have a trustworthy family member who’s responsible with their finances, becoming an authorized user on their account can offer you the same benefits (including a starting point for building your credit score) without the burden of credit in your name. Plus, this is a great opportunity to teach teens and students about credit.
5. Keep Your Credit Utilization Ratio Low
Your credit utilization is an important part of how your credit score is calculated. Keeping it low shows the bureaus that you are able to spend within your means and pay your bills on time. It’s best to keep it below 30% utilization. Meaning if you have a $1,000 spending limit, you should keep your charges under $300. All of this contributes to a healthy score for the long term.
6. Ask for a Credit Limit Increase
If you’ve been handling your credit like a pro for some time and only using 30 percent of your limit, it’s worth asking for a credit limit increase. Lenders and banks will often give these automatically when they see users behaving responsibly. You can give your bank or lender a call to request an increase. Most major credit cards even allow you to do it from your online account with them. Increasing your limit can help lower your utilization ratio if you keep your spending the same, which, in turn, will help increase your score in due time.
While all of these tips can help you boost your credit if you’re new to the game or you need help getting back on track, remember: There’s no such thing as a quick solution to building credit. You may see results in a matter of months, but these practices for healthy credit usage are lifelong habits that will keep your credit strong in the long run.
If you ever feel stuck and don’t know what steps to take to bump your score up, our team of credit specialists can assess your credit health and help you get back on track. Request a consultation today.