How Long Will it Take Me to Build My Credit?
Published on April 25th, 2019 by CreditFresh
Do you want to increase your credit score by 200 points in only 12 months? The first step is to ignore any company or individual who guarantees you that they can help you do it. Once you start to understand how to build credit, you also begin to see that credit scores are too dynamic and complex to say that you can go from X to Y in 12 months.
How long does it take to build credit? We would love to tell you that if you do “everything perfectly” you can increase a score of 550 to 750 in less than a year, but there are simply too many variables to define what doing things perfectly would even entail.
The speed at which you’re able to build or repair credit depends on a number of factors, such as:
- What your credit score is now
- How many debts you currently have
- How many credit cards you have and what their balances are
- Your payment history
- Your spending behavior
- Many, many other things
Today we will help you understand the scope of the work that needs to be done to build your credit. We can only provide very rough timelines for these steps. How much time this process actually takes will depend on where you’re starting from, where you’re looking to go, and how diligent you are along the way.
Step 1: Find and Dispute Any Errors on Your Credit Report
This is really the only step where we can estimate any sort of timeline for how long it may take.
The first step is to make sure your credit score or history is not being hurt by something unfairly. Too many people just assume their credit report is accurate. However, as many as 1 in 5 people have found errors on their credit reports. This means that their score is inaccurately low and fixing this can immediately improve things.
Here is the process to follow and a rough timeline of how long it should take:
Get Your Credit Reports
You will need credit reports from the 3 major agencies in Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The good news is you’re legally entitled to one free credit report every 12 months and there is no need to contact all 3 agencies individually.
You will need to verify your identity by providing your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. You may also have to provide your previous address if you have moved in the last two years.
Timeline: 5-20 Minutes to request your report and 15-30 days for delivery, depending on the method you used to request it.
Review Your Reports for Errors
Now, you will want to take a deep and thorough dive into your credit reports. There is a number of errors that may show up, but generally speaking, be on the lookout for:
- Incorrect personal information about your name, address, employment information, or marital status
- Incorrect public records information about lawsuits you have/have not been involved in. There may also be incorrect information about a bankruptcy that you, a spouse, or ex-spouse may have filed.
- Incorrect accounts listed in your name that have wrong or outdated information or balances. You will also want to keep an eye out for fraudulent accounts set up under your name.
Be as thorough as possible, because these details are what makes up your credit score.
Timeline: 1-3 hours, depending on the length of your report and your general familiarity with credit reports
Prepare Dispute Letter(s) and Supporting Documentation
If you do find any errors, you will now start the process of formally filing disputes to have them resolved. Begin by gathering any supporting documents from your side of things, which may include invoices, bank statements or court documents.
Once you have gathered them, the Federal Trade Commission has provided two helpful dispute letter templates and you will need both. One letter will be sent to the credit reporting agency you’re filing the dispute with, and the other is for the information provider (the person, company, or organization that provided the information about you to a credit reporting company).
Make sure you provide copies of the relevant supporting documents and never send the originals. You are also encouraged to send your letter by certified mail, with “return receipt requested,” so you can track everything and confirm when each respective party has received your letter.
Timeline: Disputes can generally take up to 30 days, however this may vary depending on the provider.
If the dispute is resolved in your favor, your credit score and report will be updated immediately. You can request an updated report be sent to you for free, and this will not count as one of the free reports that you’re entitled to every 12 months.
Total Timeline: The entire process can take anywhere from 1-6 months, depending on the length of your report and the number of disputes you have. However, this has made a big difference for a number of people who found inaccuracies.
Step 2: Look at Your Spending and Create a Budget
Now, it’s time to sit down and take a frank look at your financial habits. Learning how to build credit also means learning how to build good spending habits. Begin by taking a close look at your bank statements from the last few months to see exactly how you’re spending your money.
You may notice that you’re buying your lunch at work twice a week. This may not seem terribly wasteful when you’re hungry. However, now you can see that this is costing you $15.00 per meal, which is $30.00 a week, and $120.00 per month. You can now see that this $120.00 a month could be better spent paying down your debt or on your bills.
The numbers above are actually a pretty conservative example. According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spent just over $3,000.00 a year eating out in 2015. That works out to just about $250.00 per month.
Add up ALL of Your Monthly Charges
How much money do you think you’re spending every month on subscriptions like Netflix, Spotify or Amazon Prime?
A recent survey revealed that most people estimate that they’re spending an average of $79.74 per month. However, once they actually crunch the numbers, they are really spending 40% more than that and it all adds up to $111.61 per month.
This is why you need to go over your bank records to see exactly where your money is currently going. If the people mentioned above attempted to create a budget in their heads, they would find that they’re “missing” $31.87 every month on subscriptions alone.
Create a Realistic Budget
Now, you need to create a budget that you can live with. This means you need to set realistic goals when creating a budget, or you’ll have a hard time keeping up with it when you put it into practice. If you need help figuring out how you should be allocating your money, there are a number of free guides available online, for people in all stages of life, including:
Once you have a solid budget and plan in place, you need to ensure that you stick to it by downloading a mobile budgeting app, such as:
Timeline: This is highly variable and will depend on a number of factors. Creating a budget may only take a few hours, but integrating it into your day-to-day life could represent a major adjustment that takes you weeks to get used to. However, the more realistic you are with your financial goals, the easier the new budget will be to follow.
Step 3: Commit to Paying Your Bills on Time
This step goes hand-in-hand with setting your monthly budget. If you’ve created a sustainable and achievable budget, you should have accounted for all your monthly bills and you should be able to comfortably afford them.
The act of paying your bills on time doesn’t do a lot to build your credit score, as many of the companies you’re paying don’t report your payments to credit agencies. The exception to this would be credit card companies, who do report directly to credit agencies.
However, there are two popular strategies that have helped people build their credit by paying their bills.
Paying Your Bills With a Credit Card
You may consider paying your bills using your credit card and then quickly paying down the balance. This should be fairly easy to do if you’ve already accounted for these bills on your monthly budget. You’re simply using a credit card as a means to pay and then using the money you’ve budgeted for bills to pay the credit card balance.
If you stay on top of your payments, this will help you in 2 ways:
- Making regular payments on your credit card
- Keeping a low balance on your credit card
Both of these activities are reported to credit agencies, which can help you increase your credit score.
If you can’t get a credit card because of damaged credit, you can still do this with a secured credit card. These are offered by all the major credit card companies and act like most credit cards. The key difference is you are paying a certain amount of money to secure the card. This could be any value all the way up to the credit limit, and that money essentially acts as your available credit.
Rent Reporting Services
Less than 1% of FICO credit reports contain rent information. However, you can pay a service to report your rent payments to credit agencies, which may help you build your credit score.
These services include:
Most of these services will charge you some sort of sign up fee, and then a monthly charge to report your rent payments. However, if you’re looking to build your credit as quickly as possible, this may be an option you want to explore.
Step 4: Soften the Impact of Unexpected Expenses
The last thing you want is to do all the hard work listed above, only to be suddenly hit with a car repair bill you’re not prepared for. It doesn’t take much to throw an entire budget off-kilter. A 2016 study revealed that nearly half of surveyed Americans would have trouble finding $400.00 to pay for an emergency expense.
However, you can give yourself a safety net to prepare you for when these expenses arrive. You may consider getting a CreditFresh Line of Credit By CBW. You may qualify for a line of credit up to $2,500.00 to help you deal with sudden expenses.
A CreditFresh Line of Credit By CBW may also help you rebuild your credit by reporting your payments to credit agencies. At the same time, applying will not damage your credit score at all, unlike other lenders that may run a “hard credit check.”
Can I Hire a Company to Show Me How to Build Credit? Can They Speed Things Up?
When you first start to ask, “How long does it take to build credit,” you might start to wonder how you can speed up this process. Maybe you’ve seen credit repair companies that promise they can help you build your credit score by X points in 12 months. They may offer you services that may help you rebuild your credit. For example, some might offer credit counseling to help settle your debts, or handle your credit report disputes.
However, there is no way to pay a company to fast-track building your credit in the same way you pay an extra $15.00 to get a package shipped faster. So don’t be fooled by marketing that sounds too good to be true, because it more than likely is.
It’s very important to know that any time you learn how to build credit, you are the one doing most of the work. You’re the one carrying out good habits, sticking to a budget, and making your payments on time.
As you can see, there is no simple answer to, “How long does it take to build credit?” However, after reading this, we hope you have a better idea of what you need to do to get there.
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You may receive a personal line of credit from $500 - $2,500. Submitting an application will not negatively impact your credit report, and you can click here to get started.