How fast can I improve my credit score?

Key Takeaway
So, you want to improve your credit score ASAP? Understanding the timeline for improving your credit score is important to reaching your financial goals. How fast can you realistically improve (and what steps should you take to make it happen)? We'll explain it all and leave you feeling prepared.

How fast can I improve my credit score?

It's a common question we hear at Homebody: "How quickly can I boost my credit score?" Understanding the timeline for improving your credit score is key if you want to improve your financial health. 

While the answer varies based on individual circumstances, with the right approach, improvement can be seen faster than you might think. We’ll touch on a number of steps to accelerate and raise your credit score–even if you’re credit is less than impressive right now. Plus, you can learn more about Homebody’s credit-building solutions that improve how potential lenders see you.

And for those looking for quick answers, scroll down to the end of this guide to find our frequently asked questions. Let’s begin!

Realistic timelines for credit score improvement

Are you in a hurry to improve your credit? If so, let’s be blunt: improving your credit score is a marathon, not a sprint!

In truth, improving your credit score is a journey that requires patience, commitment, and informed actions. This obviously sounds less than ideal, especially if you’re looking to purchase a new home, qualify for a better rental unit, or get your dream car ASAP. However, you’ll find that only in rare cases would your credit score jump significantly in a matter of days, weeks, and/or months. 

The bad news: realistic credit score recovery times

How long does it take to recover from negative credit events? 

Whether it's a missed payment or a collection, the recovery timeline varies based on factors such as the severity of the event and your starting credit score. On average, it can take several months to a few years to fully recover from these setbacks. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Late payments: up to 7 years from the delinquency date
  • Accounts in collections: up to 7 years from the original delinquency date
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: up to 10 years from the filing date
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: up to 7 years from the filing date
  • Foreclosures: up to 7 years from the initial delinquency date
  • Tax liens: up to 7 years from lien paid off (unpaid can be up to 10 years)
  • Civil judgments: up to 7 years from the judgment date

Factors that affect your credit score improvement

While there are no guarantees of instant results, understanding the factors that influence credit score improvement can help you set realistic expectations and make meaningful progress over time (emphasis on “realistic.”)

Understanding how your credit score is calculated can seem like deciphering a secret code. But don't worry, we'll break it down for you. Your credit score, often represented by a FICO score, is like a report card for your financial responsibility. It's based on various factors that lenders use to assess how trustworthy you are when it comes to borrowing money. 

Let's delve into the different factors of credit score improvement, how each factor is weighed by lenders, and explore how various actions can lead to an overall improvement:

Payment history (35%)

Your payment history is like your track record for paying bills on time. It's the most influential factor in your credit score. Consistently paying your bills by their due dates shows lenders that you're reliable and can manage your debts responsibly. To improve this, always pay your bills on time. 

You can set up reminders or automatic payments to make sure you never miss a due date.

Credit utilization (30%)

Credit utilization is how much of your available credit you're using. Think of it as the balance on your credit cards compared to their limits. A lower utilization rate is better. Aim to keep it below 30%. 

By regularly checking your balances and paying down credit card debt, you can decrease your utilization and potentially increase your score.

Length of credit history (15%)

This is how long you've had credit accounts. It's like the age of your credit history. Longer credit history is generally better, as it shows that you've been managing credit responsibly for a while. 

To work on this, try to keep older accounts open. Resist the temptation to close your old credit accounts or lines of credit, even if you’re tempted to use them

Pro tip: Store old credit cards in a drawer or even consider cutting them if they’re problematic for you. Closing them might shorten your credit history, which can impact your score.

New credit (10%)

New credit refers to recent activity, like opening new accounts or applying for loans. When you apply for new credit, it's like telling lenders you might be taking on more debt. 

Multiple applications in a short time can make you look risky. To manage this, be cautious when applying for new credit. Don't open too many accounts too quickly.

Credit mix (10%)

Credit mix looks at the different types of credit you have, like credit cards, mortgages, or loans. A variety of credit types can show that you can handle various financial responsibilities. It's not about having every type of credit, but demonstrating that you can manage different types well.

The silent “killer” of credit scores: understanding hard inquiries vs. soft inquiries

When it comes to your credit report, inquiries play a pivotal role in shaping your financial profile. But not all inquiries are created equal. Hard inquiries and soft inquiries serve distinct purposes, affecting your credit score differently. 

We'll break down the difference between these types of inquiries, how they impact your credit, and real-world scenarios where you're likely to encounter them.

Hard inquiries vs. soft inquiries: the basics

Hard inquiries: hard inquiries, also known as “hard pulls”, occur when a lender or financial institution checks your credit report as part of the decision-making process for a credit application. These inquiries are typically associated with applications for credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans. Hard inquiries can affect your credit score, as they indicate that you're seeking new credit.

Soft inquiries: soft inquiries, or “soft pulls”, occur when you or a third party check your credit report for non-credit-related reasons. These inquiries don't impact your credit score and aren't associated with credit applications. Common examples of soft inquiries include checking your own credit report, pre-approved credit offers, and background checks by potential employers.

Impact on your credit score:

Hard inquiries: hard inquiries can lead to a temporary decrease in your credit score, typically by a few points. While the impact is usually minor and short-lived, multiple hard inquiries within a short period can raise concerns for lenders. This might signal that you're taking on too much new credit, potentially affecting your creditworthiness.

Soft inquiries: soft inquiries have no impact on your credit score. They're considered informational and don't reflect active attempts to acquire new credit. Checking your own credit score or receiving pre-approved offers won't harm your credit.

Real-World Examples


  • Applying for a credit card: likely to result in a hard inquiry
  • Applying for a mortgage: likely to result in a hard inquiry
  • Applying for an auto loan: likely to result in a hard inquiry
  • Checking your own credit score: likely to result in a soft inquiry
  • Pre-approved credit offers: likely to result in a soft inquiry
  • Rental apartment application: likely to result in a soft inquiry
  • Employment background check: likely to result in a soft inquiry

Understanding the distinction between hard inquiries and soft inquiries is essential for managing your credit effectively. While hard inquiries are necessary for credit applications, soft inquiries provide valuable information without impacting your credit score. 

To maintain a healthy credit profile, be mindful of the frequency of hard inquiries, particularly within a short timeframe. Regularly checking your own credit report and being aware of when inquiries are likely to occur can help you make informed decisions while safeguarding your creditworthiness.

Actionable steps to accelerate credit score improvement

Okay, you’ve got some knowledge about improving your credit score. Now, let’s look at some steps you can take to speed up the process of credit improvement (as well as potential pitfalls for each approach):

Check for errors

Regularly review your credit report for inaccuracies and dispute any discrepancies you find.

Potential pitfall: overlooking errors or failing to address them can lead to incorrect information affecting your creditworthiness.

Pay down balances

Reduce credit card balances to lower your credit utilization, which can lead to a quick score boost.

Potential pitfall: rapidly paying down balances might strain your finances, and closing accounts after paying off can reduce your score.

Become an authorized user

Being added as an authorized user on someone else credit card company someone else's responsible credit card can positively impact your credit history.

Potential pitfall: The primary cardholder's mismanagement could harm your credit, and not all authorized user activity may be reported.

Avoid new hard inquiries

Limit applications for new credit to minimize temporary dips in your credit score.

Potential pitfall: avoiding new credit entirely might hinder your ability to access necessary financing when needed.

Pay credit card balances strategically

Timing your credit card payments to align with billing cycles can optimize your credit utilization.

Potential pitfall: incorrect timing could lead to missed payments or increased balances, negatively affecting your credit score.

Request a credit limit increase

Increasing your credit limit can lower your credit utilization ratio.

Potential pitfall: seeking too many increases in a short time might indicate credit dependency, and a denial could affect your score.

Lower your credit utilization rate

Keep your credit usage below 30% of your credit card issuer and limits.

Potential pitfall: rapidly reducing utilization might lead to the closure of accounts, impacting your available credit.

Apply for a new credit card

Transferring balances can help decrease credit utilization.

Potential pitfall: opening multiple new accounts within a short period can signal financial instability to lenders.

Dispute credit report errors

Address any inaccuracies on your credit report to improve your credit.

Potential pitfall: disputes can take time to resolve, delaying potential credit improvements or applications.

Pay your card off with a personal loan

Using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt can improve utilization.

Potential pitfall: mismanagement of the personal loan could lead to increased debt, affecting your overall financial situation.

Make the most of a thin credit file

Utilize tools like Experian Boost to establish your credit reports and history.

Potential pitfall: reliance on alternative data might not be recognized by all lenders, limiting your financing options.

Keep old accounts open and deal with delinquencies

Maintaining older accounts can contribute to a stronger credit history.

Potential pitfall: late payments or delinquencies can have a significant negative impact on your credit score.

Add utility and phone payments to your credit report

Use tools like Experian Boost to include additional payment history.

Potential pitfall: not all credit scoring models consider utility and phone payments, potentially limiting the score increase.

Use a secured credit card

Secured cards can help in building or rebuilding good credit again.

Potential pitfall: failing to make payments on a secured credit card account can result in the loss of collateral and further credit damage.

Use Homebody’s Rent Credit Reporting

Pay a small monthly fee and Homebody reports your on-time rent payments to the credit bureaus. 

Potential pitfall: ensure that you’re able to make on-time rent payments.

What is a good FICO score to buy a house?

Buying a house is a huge step, and your credit score plays a key role in getting a mortgage. 

While specific lenders might have different requirements, a good FICO score for buying a house is generally considered to be around 620 or higher. However, to ensure better terms and lower interest rates, aiming for a score above 700 is recommended. 

According to data from FICO, the average credit score for approved mortgage applications in the U.S. was 762 in 2023.

Bear in mind that there are plenty of home loans that only require fair credit, including VA Loans and FHA Loans.

What is a good FICO score to buy a car?

When it comes to buying a car, a good FICO score is also important for securing favorable loan terms. Generally, a FICO score of 660 or higher is often considered a good range for getting a car loan. However, to access better interest rates and loan offers, aiming for a score above 720 is advisable. 

According to Experian's State of the Automotive Finance Market report, the average credit score for new car loans in the first quarter of 2023 was 733, while the average score for used car loans was 654.

How fast can I improve my credit score: frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How fast can I improve my credit score?

The timeline for improving your credit score varies based on your individual circumstances, but with the right approach, you can see improvement sooner than you might think. Consistent effort and responsible credit behavior are key factors to boosting your score quickly.

How does credit utilization affect my credit score?

Credit utilization refers to the percentage of your available credit that you're using. Keeping your credit utilization below 30% is recommended for a positive impact on your credit score. By reducing credit card balances and maintaining a low utilization ratio, you'll see improvement on your score sooner.

Can I improve my credit score in just 30 days?

While some improvements can be observed within a short period, a significant increase in your credit score within just 30 days is unlikely. Rapid changes often come from addressing specific negative factors, but substantial score increases usually requires consistent efforts over several months to a year.

How long does it take to build credit from 600 to 700?

Transitioning your credit score from 600 to 700 generally requires consistent effort over several months to a year or more. Positive payment history, responsible credit utilization, and diversifying your credit mix are key factors in expediting this improvement.

Will closing old accounts improve my score?

Closing old accounts can potentially harm your credit score by shortening your credit history. Length of credit history is a factor in credit scoring, and closing old accounts might lead to a reduction in your average account age, which can negatively impact your score.

Can I hire someone to fix my credit faster?

While credit repair companies may promise quick fixes, it's important to be cautious. Legitimate credit repair involves disputing inaccurate information and working on responsible credit behavior over time. Hiring someone doesn't necessarily guarantee faster results and might even lead to unnecessary expenses.

How long do negative items stay on my credit report?

Negative items such as late payments, accounts in collections, and bankruptcies can stay on your credit report for various periods, ranging from 7 to 10 years. The exact duration depends on the type of negative event and local regulations.

How does becoming an authorized user impact my credit?

Being added as an authorized user on someone else's responsible credit card can positively impact your credit history, especially if the primary cardholder has a strong credit history. However, the primary cardholder's mismanagement could potentially harm your credit.

Can I improve my credit score by disputing inaccurate information?

Disputing inaccurate information on your credit report is a valid step in credit improvement. If the disputed information is found to be incorrect, it could lead to an increase in your credit score. However, the resolution process might take some time.

Can I raise my credit score by paying off collections?

Paying off collections can improve your credit score by resolving outstanding debts. However, the impact on your score might not be immediate. The account's status may change from "unpaid" to "paid," but the account's history will still reflect the past delinquency.

How long does improving your credit score take?

Improving your credit score is a gradual process that requires consistent effort over time. While specific improvements might be observed within a few months, achieving a substantial increase in your score typically takes several months to a year or more.

Does getting a new credit card hurt my credit score?

Getting a new credit card can have a temporary negative impact on your credit score. Opening a new account can lead to a hard inquiry and reduce the average age of your credit accounts. However, these effects tend to diminish over time with responsible credit management.


There's no one-size-fits-all timeline for credit score improvement. As you learned throughout this guide, improving your credit score is a process that requires a combination of responsible credit behavior and informed strategies. By practicing consistent efforts to reduce credit utilization, maintain positive payment history, and address inaccuracies in your credit report, your credit score can make before you know it!

At Homebody, we're dedicated to guiding you on your journey to better financial health every step of the way. From in-depth articles to unbeatable insurance rates, and much more, Homebody is at your service when it comes to achieving the credit score and peace of mind you deserve. Learn more today!

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