How long does it take to get good credit?

how long does it take to get good credit

It can take several months to years to establish good credit, which will depend largely on your existing credit profile.1

Having a low FICO score can be frustrating. The good news is that you can work towards improving your credit! Keep reading to learn how long it generally takes to establish good credit. 

How Long Does It Take To Get a Credit Score? 

Consumers have a “thin credit file” when there is insufficient information to generate a credit score. You establish credit reports with the three credit bureaus by borrowing money or using a credit line with a financial institution that reports your payment history. 

If you have never had credit cards or loans before, you will not have a credit score. The good news is that you can acquire a credit score by borrowing money or using a line of credit.  

It takes about six months for a person to get a credit score for the first time. FICO requires borrowers to meet three specific criteria to receive a credit score:

1. Credit History RequirementYou must have at least one credit account that has been open for six months.
2. Recent Activity RequirementYou must have at least one credit account with activity reported to the credit bureaus within the past six months.
3. Deceased Status ExclusionYour report should not indicate that you are currently deceased.
Credit Score Acquisition TimelineIf you meet these three criteria, you can expect to receive a credit score approximately six months from when you first opened a financial account.

If you meet these three criteria, you can expect to receive a credit score six months from when you first opened a financial account. 

How Long Does It Take To Improve Your Credit Score?

If you have negative information on your credit report, it may take time for you to improve your credit score. However, working hard to rebuild your credit can help you bounce back!

Read about a few negative credit actions below and how long it may take for your credit score to recover. 

A Collections Account

One-third of Americans have an account in collections.2 Has a creditor charged off your unpaid account and sent it to a collection agency? In that case, you can expect the credit bureau to remove the account in seven years. The start of seven years begins on the date of your first missed payment or charge-off status. Paying off collections can improve your credit score over time, but the account will remain on your credit report. Most collections agencies report to the credit bureaus every 30 days


The major credit bureaus consider a foreclosure to be a negative account. Negative accounts will remain on your credit report for seven years from the date of the first missed payment that resulted in a negative status. 


There are different types of bankruptcy, and they all affect your credit history in different ways. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy will remain on your credit file for ten years, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will remain for seven.  

Late Payments 

Missing a payment can drastically affect your credit. A late payment will remain on a credit report for up to seven years from the missed payment date. The negative entry cannot be removed from a credit report, even if you eventually make the payment. 

Essential Factors for a Credit Report

FICO is one of the leading credit scoring models used by lenders and credit card issuers. A credit scoring model is a mathematical model used to evaluate your creditworthiness

Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and a good credit score is generally any score higher than 670. The higher the number, the better you look to lenders and credit card companies. Five critical factors on a credit report determine your credit score and each is worth a small percentage. If you want to build credit, keep these scoring factors in mind.

Payment History on Your Credit Accounts

Payment history on your credit accounts affects your credit score by 35%. Ensuring you make on-time payments can help you maintain a good score. But if you miss a payment, that negative information will remain on your credit history for seven years! Late payments can be a red flag for creditors, and you may not receive the best financial opportunities, so ensure you make on-time payments.

Credit Utilization Ratio

Your credit utilization ratio is the total amount of debt you have compared to the amount of money you have available to spend. This factor accounts for 30% of credit scores. Ideally, you should not use more than 30% of your available credit. 

You may wonder if it is bad to have multiple credit cards, and it’s not! What matters is how much money you keep available. If your credit limit is $15,000 across multiple credit cards, you should not use more than $4,500. You can manage a credit card wisely by paying more than the minimum and not maxing out your credit line.  

Credit History Length

The longer you manage financial accounts, the higher your credit score can be. The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your FICO score. You can still get a good credit score if you are new to credit despite having a short credit history. 

Credit Mix

The type of financial accounts you have (your credit mix) can affect your FICO score by 10%. Having a mix of revolving credit and installment loans can actually be beneficial. Successfully managing different accounts can help you build good credit, but it is not necessary. 

Credit Inquiries 

Applying for a loan or credit card can damage your credit score by up to five points. The total amount of inquiries you make accounts for 10% of your credit. If you have bad credit, you may have to apply with multiple creditors to get approval. Luckily, many people with low credit scores may qualify for loan options that don’t require credit checks, like cash advance loans and payday loans

How to Quickly Get Good Credit 

If you want to get good credit as quickly as possible, options are available! The financial opportunities listed below can help you build credit to get a strong credit score. 

Use a Credit Builder Loan

A credit builder loan is a small installment loan specifically designed to help borrowers build credit. The lender will deposit your loan money into a secured savings account. They will report your on-time payments to the credit reporting agencies. Once you successfully repay the credit builder loan, the money is released from the savings account and dispersed to you.

Use a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is similar to a traditional credit card, but a security deposit to the credit card company is required. The amount of money you use to get a secured card is how much you will have to spend. 

The lender will report your payment history, so ensure you always make payments on time. Also, make sure the credit card issuer reports to all three major credit bureaus so you can receive the maximum benefits of reliable payments. Remember that you can lose your security deposit if you cannot meet the repayment obligations.

Pay Bills on Time

Paying your bills on time is one of the best ways to get good credit history. Lenders want to see proof of good credit habits, and avoiding missed payments is the key. Aside from creditors, many vendors and service providers report payment history to credit reporting agencies. This includes phone companies and utility companies. If you constantly forget to pay your bills, ask about automatic payments. This way, your bill amount is automatically deducted from a debit or credit card, so you never worry about missed payments. 

Monitor Your Credit Reports

It’s essential to monitor your reports to ensure they are correct. Mistakes happen, and any one of your reports may have an error on it. Errors can negatively affect your credit score, even if you are a responsible borrower. The most common mistakes include incorrect dates on payments and inaccurate account balances. 


What is the difference between FICO credit scores and VantageScores?

While both FICO and VantageScore provide a measure of creditworthiness, they use slightly different credit score models and criteria. It’s essential to know which score a lender will use when evaluating your creditworthiness, as having a good credit score with one model may not be the same with another. 

How often should I check my credit report?

It’s recommended to check your report at least once a year to ensure there are no errors or fraudulent activities that could hurt your credit score. You’re entitled to one free report from each of the three major credit bureaus annually. 

Do all lenders use the same criteria when evaluating my credit score?

While most lenders consider your credit score, they might also have their own lending criteria. Factors such as income, employment history, and existing debts can also influence a lender’s decision.

How does closing a credit card account affect my credit score?

Closing a credit card can impact your credit utilization ratio and the length of your credit history, both of which are factors in calculating your credit score. It’s essential to consider these impacts before closing an account.

Can I still get a loan with a “thin credit file”?

While having little to no credit can make it challenging to get traditional loans, some lenders specialize in working with individuals with limited credit histories. Additionally, secured loans or credit builder loans might be available options for those with no credit score.

How do joint accounts or being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card affect my credit score?

Being an authorized user can help build your credit history if the primary account holder has good credit habits. However, joint accounts mean both parties are responsible for the debt, and any negative actions can affect both individuals’ credit scores.

What steps can I take if I find an error on my credit report?

If you discover an error on your credit report, it’s crucial to report it to the respective credit bureau immediately. They are required to investigate and correct any inaccuracies.

How does increasing or decreasing my credit limit affect my credit score?

Increasing your credit limit can potentially improve your credit utilization rate, which is the amount of credit you’re using compared to your total credit limit. A lower utilization ratio can positively impact your credit score.

Why might my credit score differ between the three credit bureaus?

Each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—may have slightly different information about your credit history. Lenders don’t always report to all three bureaus, and there might be slight discrepancies or delays in reporting. It’s a good reason to check all three of your credit reports annually.

How do “soft inquiries” and “hard inquiries” on my credit report differ?

A “soft inquiry” occurs when you check your own credit score or when a company checks your score for promotional purposes, like pre-approved credit card offers. Soft inquiries do not affect your credit score. A “hard inquiry” happens when a lender checks your credit for lending purposes, such as when you apply for a loan or credit card. Hard inquiries can slightly lower your credit score for a short period.

Does having a high income automatically mean I’ll have a high credit score?

No, income is not directly factored into your credit score. While a higher income can potentially allow you to manage debts more effectively, credit scores are based on how you handle your debts and credit obligations, not the amount of money you earn. It’s possible for someone with a high income to have a low credit score if they mismanage their credit.

Conclusion With CreditNinja

The amount of time it takes to get to a good credit score varies based on your past financial history. But even if you currently have bad credit, there are steps you can take to steadily increase your credit score. Patience and responsible credit habits will pay off in the end. To learn more about credit scores and finances in general, check out CreditNinja’s blogs. 


  1. How Long Does It Take to Build Credit? | US News
  2. One-third of Americans have an account in collections | Microbilt
  3. Does Information Stay on My Equifax Credit Report? | Equifax
  4. How Long Does It Take To Build Credit For The First Time? | Forbes

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