How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?

Establishing a credit history and a good credit score takes time. But there are steps you can take that may help you improve both


Building credit can be important to your financial health, but it doesn’t happen overnight. And even once you’ve built your way to a better score, you’ll need to show responsible credit use to maintain it. 

So how long does it take to build a credit history? The short answer is that it depends on several factors. But there’s information that can help give you a better idea of timing.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Score?

Exactly how long it takes is different for everyone. And it can depend on what your credit score is now, as well as how you’re managing your debt.

Credit-scoring companies use different formulas, or models, to calculate credit scores. And there are many different credit scores and scoring models. That means people have more than one score out there. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), some of the most commonly used credit scores come from FICO® and VantageScore®

If you’ve never had credit of any kind, there are several ways you can begin to build a credit history. This could include applying or being approved for a credit card or even a loan. And according to Bankrate.com, you can get a FICO score calculated in about six months. And it may take even less time to get a VantageScore.

Although it can take months to build a good credit score, it can take far less time to undo all your hard work. For instance, negative factors like late payments may stay on your credit report for years and could negatively impact your score. The CFPB says some types of bankruptcy filings can stay on your credit reports for up to 10 years. 

The good news: If you start developing healthy credit habits now, the negative impacts to your credit score may begin to diminish over time. 

Why Does Establishing a Good Credit Score Take Time?

Credit score changes aren’t instantaneous. That’s because your credit scores measure your credit activity over time. When lenders check your credit reports and credit score, they’re looking for signs that you consistently manage debt responsibly. 

For instance, paying all of your credit card bills on time for one month can be good for your score. But paying on time over months or years can have an ever bigger positive impact on your score. And that can help lenders better predict how you’ll manage debt.

Ways to Help Improve Your Credit Score

There are steps you can take right away to help improve your credit. Here are five things the CFPB says can help boost your scores:  

  • Pay your bills on time every month. You can set up automatic payments or electronic reminders to help you remember payment due dates.
  • Stay well below your credit limit. If you have credit cards, try not to spend more than 30% of your credit limit across all of your accounts.
  • Focus on creating a long credit history. Part of what determines your credit score is how long you’ve had credit. So the older your credit history with each card, the better. 
  • Apply only for credit you need. Applying for multiple credit accounts in a short period could signal to lenders that your financial situation has changed for the worse.
  • Check your credit reports. Your credit scores are based on the information in your credit reports. Any errors on these reports could affect your credit, so it’s important to check them regularly. You can get free copies of credit reports from the major credit bureaus every 12 months by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com

Monitor Your Credit for Free With CreditWise From Capital One

Staying on top of your credit is an important part of improving your score.

CreditWise from Capital One is a free tool that allows you to monitor your VantageScore® 3.0 credit score. You can access CreditWise from your desktop or from your phone, so you have it at your fingertips. Using CreditWise won’t hurt your score. And it’s free for everyone, not just Capital One customers. 

It takes time to improve your credit, whether you’re starting from scratch or rebuilding after a financial setback. But the good news is that it’s possible. And once you build up your credit score, staying on top of monthly payments and other financial details can help you keep it there.


Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web. The tool is not guaranteed to detect all identity theft.

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