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How Long Does it Take to Raise Your Credit Score?

Posted by MoneyKey on March 18, 2019
a question mark representing the question, "how long does it take to raise your credit score?"

In this fast-paced world, you don’t end up waiting long for things you want. You can send a message to a friend living half-way across the world in the time it takes you to press a button; you can choose express delivery online and receive your package within two days; and you can use the drive-thru to get a hot meal in a matter of minutes.

It only makes sense that you should expect the same speed when you want to improve your credit score, right?

Unfortunately, credit scoring doesn’t work this way. Raising your credit score is a long-distance run — not a sprint. You’ll need patience and diligence to improve subprime credit, and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

This guide helps you find the truth. With a brief overview of how credit works, and an opportunity to learn more about online loan options for people with bad credit, you’ll see what it takes to raise your credit score the right way.

How to raise credit score instantly

Once you realize why your credit score matters, you may be desperate to improve it as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, there’s no magic word that transforms bad credit into an excellent score within a blink of an eye.  The only way you might improve your credit score is by creating deliberate and steady habits. The first step however, is to determine why you might have a bad score in the first place.

To see how the most popular credit scoring company calculates your score, check in with our guide to credit and bad credit loans. There, we show you the five categories FICO uses to determine your rating. 

Think of your credit in terms of a pie. Each category makes up a slice, but some are bigger than others. While payment history is worth 35 percent of the overall credit pie, credit mix is only 10 percent.

diagram on a tablet

Due to this weighting, you’ll find it quicker to improve a low rating that’s the result of poor credit mix than if you have a history of delinquent payments or bankruptcy, which lasts as long as ten years on your history.

How to raise credit score 100 points overnight

There’s no way to raise your credit score 100 points overnight. Unfortunately, however, it’s worth noting that you can lower your credit score overnight – for example, the average person may see their score drop by 160 to 220 points from the moment they file for bankruptcy. At last count, only 13 million people filed for bankruptcy between 2005 and 2017, so hopefully this doesn’t apply to you.

How to raise credit score in 30 days

While expecting to make a difference to your score overnight isn’t realistic, thirty days is enough to develop some positive habits that can help you start building up your score over the long term.

Generally, most information on your credit report lasts for seven years (with some exceptions). For an in-depth look at timelines, check out this list from Experian. Remember, a credit score isn’t purely a wrap sheet for all the negative things you’ve done with credit – scoring mechanisms such as FICO tally up every piece of data on your file — good and bad.

It’s true, part of improving credit involves waiting for bad information to slough off. However, the other equally important part of improving your score involves building good instances of credit. And as you’ll see later, paying bills on time is one of the best ways you can improve your credit.

Many bills operate on a monthly cycle — or 30 days. If you work hard to submit your payments on time, you’ll be making the first step towards repairing your credit in 30 days. If you commit to paying everything on time every month, then your chances of improving your credit only increase!

How to raise credit score by 200 points

Making radical changes to your credit score involves long-term commitment to certain lifestyle changes, such as building and sticking to deliberate money management habits that will help improve your score.

So what does this mean? Let’s take a look at the list below to help you begin.

1. Pay bills on time

Things like irregular and late payments will likely lower your score, while consistent payments made on time will likely improve it.

FICO gives your payment history the heaviest weighting when creating your score, and it may be highly responsive to behavior depending on how a lender reports to credit bureaus. In other words, even a late payment of a few days may affect your score.

calendar on a desk

This sensitivity means you need to make sure you always pay your bills on time. If you’re struggling to meet these deadlines, you may want to try out these tips to help you get back on track:

  • Keep track of due dates: Whether you use an app or an old-fashioned hanging calendar, make note of when and what you owe on it. If you use a digital calendar, program it to remind you of upcoming dates, so you’re more likely to remember to pay on time.

 

  • Set up automatic payments: If you’re still having trouble remembering to send money out on time, try pre-authorizing payments with your bank. Once in place, these payments will automatically come out of your account according to the schedule you set. Check out the pros and cons of automatic bill payments to see if this system is right for you.

 

  • Speak with your creditor: If it’s not your memory or a singular slip-up that’s making it hard to pay bills on time, but chronic financial issues, contact the company to whom you owe money. You may be able to negotiate a more flexible payment schedule, or you may even be able to lower what you owe altogether. You won’t know if you don’t try, so don’t hesitate to email or phone them, using this guide to help you brush up on your negotiation skills.

When you follow one or all of these tips, you’ll be more likely to hit your payments on time and keep your payment history from lowering your score.

2. Pay off credit card balances

Having a credit card will help you build healthy credit as long as you use it responsibly. So what does responsible use of this financial product look like?

someone calculating an invoice

Ideally, you shouldn’t carry a balance on your credit card from one month to the next. But anyone who has real-life responsibilities will know how that’s not always possible. Unexpected bills, fines, and other payments may cause you to rely on your credit card more than usual, and you may not be able to pay this higher balance if you rack up these expenses all at once.

There’s no need to panic just yet. Holding a balance on your credit card won’t necessarily tank your credit, as long as you pay the minimum balance. When it comes to something like a credit card, you may create a positive payment history by paying the minimum balance every month without fail.

It will take more than a single payment to get your credit under control. Only regular payments over the long-term will help establish good credit.

While this method is better than not paying at all, you’ll want to pay more than just the minimum balance to avoid accruing more interest on what you owe.

Although it’s not as ideal as paying your balance off each month, it will help you avoid a late or delinquent payment on your report — which will contribute to lowering your score.

3. Use credit cards wisely

person holding credit card

There’s more to your credit card than your payments. Other tips to make sure you use a credit card in a way that will build healthy credit include:

  • Find low fee credit cards with low interest: Specialty credit cards that promise cash back and travel rewards sound like a great idea at first, but they usually come with high interest rates and annual fees. These charges may hurt your chances of sticking to your budget if you don’t have a lot of cash to spare, so make sure you find an account with a low (or zero) annual fee and low interest rate.

 

  • Don’t use it as a cash advance: Some cards allow you to take credit in the form of an advance, but they may come with expensive fees, finance charges, and interest rates.

 

  • Follow your budget: Research shows people are more likely to spend with a credit card than if they use cash. To avoid overspending when you have to use your credit card, remember to stick to your budget and don’t buy things you know you can’t afford.

 

  • Limit your credit card utilization: Your credit card utilization refers to how much credit you actually use, relative to how much you have available. It’s usually represented as a percentage.

 

To find out what percentage your utilization is for an individual account, all you have to do is follow this equation:  

 

Account balance ÷ Credit limit = Credit utilization

 

So, for example, if you use $1,800 on a credit card that has a $5,000 limit, it would look like this:

 

$1,800 ÷ $5,000 = 0.36

 

To turn your quotient into a percentage by multiplying it by 100. That would make this example of credit utilization 36 percent.

numbers

Thirty-six percent is a pretty good ratio. Generally, most financial advisors suggest you keep your credit card utilization to 30 percent or less.

This rule of thumb applies to every account in your name. To find out what your total credit utilization is, you would add up all of the account balances under your name. Separately, you would add up all of the total limits of these accounts. Then you would divide the sum of all your balances by the sum of all your limits.

Your credit utilization informs FICO of your debt burden or accounts owed. Representing 30 percent of your score, this category has a big impact on your score, so you’ll want to use your credit cards carefully.

4. Don’t open new accounts often

When you’re ready to put bad credit behind you, you may be tempted to start a fresh by opening completely new accounts. Unfortunately, opening new accounts may inadvertently lower your score.

It attaches too many hard inquiries on your file

A hard inquiry is something that some lenders (like credit card companies, mainstream banks, and auto loan lenders) perform when they assess your application for a loan. These inquiries show up on your credit report for two years, during which time they’ll affect your score.

Some lenders perform soft inquiries. As an online lender, Credit Service Organization, or Credit Access Business depending on the state, MoneyKey performs a soft inquiry when we review a loan application. If you aren’t sure how your home state affects your options, we’ve made it easy to learn more about how we operate as a lender across the country.

More importantly, these checks won’t show up on your history, nor will they impact your score. This is good news for anyone facing a financial emergency while dealing with bad credit. As a convenient online lender, we focus less on your credit score than mainstream lenders — giving you the chance to secure an essential cash loan in a time of need.

It lowers your average account age

Your score is a calculation of your creditworthiness, and FICO values having as much data as possible when crunching the numbers.   

As a result, part of the way a credit rating system like FICO determines your numerical score is through the length of your history. In a nutshell, this means FICO will consider how long you’ve had each account under your name.

An account that’s been open for years typically gives more insight into your borrowing behavior than an account that has only been open for a few weeks.

There are some exceptions, one of them being an installment loan from MoneyKey. Since we perform soft inquiries when approving our customers, this option may have less of an impact on your score than other loans. As long as you repay what you owe on time, any loan you borrow from us won’t affect your credit score either way. To find out more information about how we operate, one of our Customer Care representatives is available to help, or you can check out our FAQ about borrowing to see if we’ve addressed your concerns before.

street sign with questions answers written on it

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t ever open a new account from other lenders that perform hard inquiries. Individually, these accounts won’t tank your score, but it’s their combined effects that can do damage.

If you open several accounts at the same time, they may lower your overall average account age and potentially flag you as a risk, regardless of how responsible you are with credit.

6. Don’t close accounts regularly

Sometimes, things happen in life that make it hard to maintain a perfect score. An unexpected job loss or long-lasting medical issue may drain your resources and cause you to use credit in a way that lowers your score.

Once you get another job or recover from your illness, it’s possible to revive your credit score, but it may take some time to undo the damage. For those who have little patience, you may be tempted to close the accounts that caused your credit to plummet in the first place.

Unfortunately, out of sight and out of mind doesn’t apply to your credit rating. Here’s what’s wrong with this thinking:

1. Closing an account will not make instances of bad credit go away

There’s no way to sweep bad credit under the rug by closing an account. As these instances will have already been reported to a credit agency, they’ll be on your history for seven to ten years regardless of whether you keep the account open. Recovering will simply take time.

2. Closing an account with a high credit limit may also hurt your credit score

An agency like FICO favors accounts that can show how you’ve used credit over a long period of time. In other words, the longer you have an account open, the better. By wiping out a credit card or line of credit you’ve had for years, you may be eliminating something that signifies you’re a reliable borrower.

3. It may also disrupt your credit utilization

Remember, this ratio is determined by how much of the total available credit you use month to month. When you eliminate a large line of credit or credit card from your history, the overall credit you have available diminishes. As a result, you end up using more of your available limit, even if you don’t spend more than you usually do.

Monitor your credit

Keeping an eye on your score as you work on improving it is a great learning tool. You’ll not only be able to see where you go wrong but also where you go right.

people looking at graphs on a laptop

It may also help you identify instances of bad credit that aren’t your fault. Whether through clerical error or fraud, there may be false reports of bad credit affecting your overall score.

The following agencies allow you to check your report for free at least once a year:

  • Equifax
  • Experian
  • TransUnion

With three agencies to choose from, you have the chance to schedule three free checks of your credit report every year. This may help you catch errors that may lower your score.

These agencies perform soft inquiries when producing your report, so you don’t have to worry about impacting your score while tracking your reports.

Make a habit of these and see your credit climb

When you have bad credit, you’re probably worried about how fast you can raise your credit score. You might search the Internet for top tips, but don’t believe everything you see. Articles with titles like “Raise Credit Score 100 Points Overnight” and “How to Raise Credit Score Instantly” are misleading. Although you may lower your score overnight by missing a payment, the road to improving your credit takes a lot longer. It may even take years.

How long depends on your individual score, your history, and your behavior. Generally, the steps you need to take to rebuild it involve getting your payment history and debt burden under control, while waiting for the seven to ten years it takes for bad information to fall off your score.

It may take you longer than you expect to make significant changes. You may even hit a few speed bumps along the way. Just remember we’re here in case you face a financial emergency without a safety net — we offer installment loans and lines of credit that help you tackle unexpected expenses. You won’t see your score go up or down by opening a loan as long as you keep it in good standing.

Get in touch to get more info online of credit loans as well as installment loans for bad credit. Meanwhile, invest in your credit score by using credit responsibly. Although there’s no way to solve credit issues instantly, there are ways to improve subprime credit gradually. Every example of responsible credit use on your record will raise your score incrementally, snowballing until it outweighs the negative instances of credit in your history. All it takes to get started is committing to a plan that involves the tips we outlined above.

Posted in: Financial Tips

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