How Long Does It Take to Build Credit?

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


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

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 the timing.

How Long Does It Take to Build Credit From Nothing?

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

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. It may take even less time to get a VantageScore®. 

Experian®, one of the three major credit bureaus in the U.S., explains that “you’ll need to have an open and active account for three to six months before a credit score can be calculated.”

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 reports for years and could negatively impact your scores. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (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 scores may begin to diminish over time.

How Long Does It Take to Improve Your Credit Scores?

How long it takes to improve your credit scores depends on where you’re starting and how you got there. 

For example, building credit from scratch may take less time than rebuilding credit. Recovering from a few recent credit inquiries might not take as long as working back from bankruptcy. And going from poor to excellent credit scores may take longer than going from good to excellent scores.

Why Does Establishing Good Credit Scores 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 scores, 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 scores. But paying on time over months or years can have an ever bigger positive impact on your scores. And that can help lenders better predict how you’ll manage debt.

Understand How Credit Scores Are Calculated to Build or Improve Yours

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 CFPB, some of the most commonly used credit scores come from VantageScore and FICO. And their credit scores are based on information from your credit reports. 

But what information is actually used to calculate your scores? Here are some of the factors, according to the CFPB:

  • Payment history
  • Current debt
  • Credit utilization
  • Type and number of loans
  • The age of your credit accounts
  • New credit applications

Tips to Improve Your Credit Scores

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 scores 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 scores. And CreditWise from Capital One is another free tool that allows you to monitor your VantageScore 3.0 credit score. 

You can access CreditWise from your desktop or phone, so you have it at your fingertips. And using CreditWise won’t hurt your scores. Plus, it’s free for everyone, whether or not you have a Capital One product.

Bottom Line: Building Credit Takes Time

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 scores, staying on top of monthly payments and other financial details can help you keep your scores high.


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 credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

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