How Long Does Negative Information Stay on a Credit Report?
Positive and negative information on your credit reports may affect your credit scores, but there are time limits to keep in mind
Ever heard the saying that knowledge is power? When it comes to your credit, that can absolutely be true. So let’s start by asking a few questions and gaining some knowledge. What exactly is a credit report? What kind of negative information can be on it? And how long does it stay?
Essentially, you can think of a credit report as a statement that’s filled with information on your credit activities—things like your history of making on-time payments. Your reports can also contain negative information that could impact your credit scores. And some negative information could stay on your reports for up to 10 years. Read on to learn more.
Types of Negative Information on Credit Reports
Common types of negative information can include late payments, bankruptcies, charge-offs and hard inquiries.
The good news? Negative entries don’t stay on your credit reports forever. That’s helpful to know since your credit profile can influence your chances of qualifying for loans and credit cards. Your credit can also play a role in decisions made by insurance companies, landlords, utilities providers and employers.
Now let’s take a look at different types of negative information.
Late payments may be another source of negative information on your credit reports.
According to Experian®, one of the three major credit bureaus, “Payment history is the most important ingredient in credit scoring, and even one missed payment can have a negative impact on your score.”
Here are a few key things to know about late payments:
- They could stay on your credit reports for up to seven years.
- They could stay on your credit reports even after you pay the past-due amount you owe.
- Depending on the scoring model, older negative information may count less than more recent information. And negative information with smaller dollar amounts could count less than negative information with larger amounts.
Keep in mind that negative information like late credit card payments could come with other consequences, including late fees and interest rate increases. That’s one more reason for avoiding late payment fees on your credit cards and other accounts if you can.
When a credit card account goes 180 days—a full six months—past due, the credit card company has to close and “charge off” the account. And closed-end loans must be charged off after 120 days. Keep in mind that some companies may charge off debt sooner.
When an account is charged off, it means the account is permanently closed and written off as a loss to the company.
Even when your account is closed with charged-off debt, you’re still responsible for paying back the money you owe. Your credit card company may contact you for collection—or you can get in touch with them. You could find that reaching out to your credit card company is helpful.
Now, what about timing? Like late payments, charge-offs can generally stay on your credit reports for up to seven years.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says that bankruptcies could stay on your credit reports for up to 10 years. According to the CFPB, “As long as a bankruptcy appears on your credit report, it will negatively impact your score.”
Hard inquiries can happen when you apply for a loan or other type of credit. Specifically, lenders may make a hard inquiry when they’re processing your application.
For comparison’s sake, it can help to look at the difference between hard and soft inquiries. A soft inquiry can happen when you ask for your annual credit report, for example. Or it could happen when lenders pre-screen your credit before offering you a credit card.
A hard inquiry can impact your credit scores, while a soft inquiry won’t. And hard inquiries may stay on your credit reports for two years.
How Long Does Positive Information Stay on a Credit Report?
Now you know more about negative information that can show up on your credit reports. But what about the positive information?
Positive information can take a variety of forms on your reports. It can include your on-time payment history or a credit card account that’s open and paid off.
As for timing, positive information can stay on your credit reports indefinitely.
Ways to Prevent Negative Information
Your credit history comes from your credit activities—both positive and negative. With that in mind, here are some ways to use your credit responsibly and prevent negative information from appearing on your credit reports:
- Pay bills on time. Your payment history is a major factor when it comes to your credit scores. Even one missed or late payment can have a negative impact on your credit.
- Stay well below your credit limits. According to the CFPB, “Experts advise keeping your use of credit at no more than 30 percent of your total credit limit.”
- Monitor your credit. With CreditWise from Capital One, you can access your TransUnion® credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free for everyone. You don’t even have to be a Capital One customer to enroll. You can also get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn how.
Remember, knowledge can be power when it comes to your credit. So get proactive. The more you know about negative information on your credit reports, the more you could do to prevent it.
Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.
We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.
Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many scoring models used by lenders. It likely won’t be the same model your lender uses, but it is an accurate measure of your credit health. Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your file at one or more consumer reporting agencies or you do not have a file at one or more consumer reporting agencies. The tool is not guaranteed to detect all identity theft.