How long does it take to fix a bad credit score?
Published Sun, Sep 9, 2012 Updated Tue, Feb 16, 2021
Having a bad credit score or a generally checkered past and a credit file full of mistakes or even defaults and late payments can be a real hindrance in life, particularly if you need credit to make big purchases such as a new car or even a house.
For that reason, whatever your credit history looks like you should do whatever you can to fix it. Unfortunately this can take some time.
Exactly how long it takes to ‘fix’ your credit score depends on a few factors:
How ‘bad’ is your credit score now?
There are basically 2 ways to improve your credit score, either add positive things to your file or remove negative ones. Generally things stay on your file for up to 7 years, so if you have any serious negatives on your file you may have to wait until they expire before your credit will be really good.[cta]
Generally lenders will put less equity in things that happened more than 2 or 3 years ago, but if for instance you have been bankrupt you might find it takes 5 or 6 years before you can even start to get credit again. That said, if you have just been missing a lot of payments then you should be able to vastly improve your credit in a year or two if you do all the right things.
How ‘good’ does your credit score need to be?
Of course, the other question is what ‘fix’ actually means to you. If you want to get a mortgage you will need a much better credit history than if you simply want to be able to get a credit card and maybe a personal loan.
Take the example above, after declaring bankruptcy you might be able to get a small credit card 3 years down the line, but chances are it will take much longer before you are eligible to get a mortgage.
What are you doing about it?
To improve your credit you need to stop doing bad things and start doing good things. If you do all the right things but you continue to make occasional slip ups then it will take much longer to repair than if you are careful not to have any mistakes.[cta]
The final thing to say is that results vary a lot from person to person and it’s not just your credit score that matters either. If your circumstances change and you start earning more or saving more you will probably be able to get credit much more quickly than if you remain unemployed, regardless of what you do about your credit in the meantime.