How Long Does It Take To Repair Your Credit?
If you're thinking about taking the steps to repair your credit, you're probably wondering how long it's going to take to go through the entire process.
While each person's credit situation is unique, generally speaking, the credit repair process will take anywhere from two to six months.
This guide covers the credit repair timeline and how certain credit factors can impact your credit score.
How long does negative information stay on your credit report?
Negative information can stick around on your credit report for a long time—generally 7-10 years, depending on the item.
Pay attention to the five credit score factors
As you prepare to roll up your sleeves and get down to the business of repairing your credit, it's important to understand how the credit bureaus use five scoring factors to calculate your credit score—this will help you learn how the credit scoring game works, as well as identify what's actually bringing your score down.
While each scoring model varies a bit, your credit score is made up of the following five factors, each of which carry their own specific weight.
What It Means
How Important Is It?
Whether you make your payments on time
35% of your score
The ratio of your credit balance to your available credit limit
How long you've used credit
The type of accounts that make up your credit report
How many new accounts you have
As you can see, your payment history is the most heavily weighted scoring factor, accounting for one-third of your total score.
The other factors are certainly important, but even a handful of late payments can sink your credit score.
Credit repair timeline
If you're just starting out in the credit repair process, you might not know where to begin, and if you're unsure what to do and how to do it, the whole process can feel overwhelming.
In some cases, people throw in the towel and give up before they've even begun.
But take heart.
By breaking down the credit repair process into a manageable timeline, you can tackle one task at a time.
Credit Repair Steps
How Long Will It Take?
Step 1: Order & review your credit reports
Step 2: Draft & file dispute letters (with each credit bureau)
Step 3: Wait for a response from the credit bureaus
The first step is to order and review your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can get a free report from all three credit bureaus by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you spot an error or inaccurate item, your next step is to draft and file dispute letters with each credit bureau. Common errors include inaccurate information (such as a wrong address), open accounts that are listed as closed, negative items that should have dropped off, and duplicate accounts.
Sometimes, creditors will also incorrectly list a consumer as a joint borrower with a spouse or child. For example, you might be mistakenly listed as an account holder on your spouse's credit card or your child's student loan—if you find these errors, you should dispute them with the credit bureaus.
The credit repair timeline will vary for each person, and it might be shorter or longer depending on how many negative items you have and how many dispute letters you need to file.
Generally, however, you can expect the credit repair process to take anywhere between two and six months.
Rebuilding your credit as you repair it
As you repair your credit by fixing inaccurate items and information, it's equally important to focus on rebuilding your credit. If repairing means cleaning up your credit past, rebuilding involves looking after the present and toward the future.
To rebuild your credit, pay attention to the five credit scoring factors—this means making on-time payments, keeping your credit utilization low, having a good mix of credit types, and avoiding taking on too much new credit.
You can't do much about your credit history (how long you've used credit), but this factor is just 15 percent of your overall credit score. By working hard on the other factors, you can rebuild while you repair.
When it makes sense to hire a credit repair company
In some cases, you might want to turn to a credit repair company to help you fix a bad credit score. While you're capable of doing anything a credit repair company can do, it sometimes makes sense to hire a professional.
Reputable credit repair companies have experience, time, and manpower—three things you might not have in ample supply.
If you're short on time or feeling frustrated by the credit repair process, it might make sense to outsource your efforts. Just as you have the ability to cut your own lawn or weed your own flower beds, sometimes it's easier and faster to hire a landscaper.
The fees for a credit repair service vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 and $100 per month while you use the service.
Repairing your credit takes hard work and patience, but the results are well worth the effort.
If you've made money mistakes in the past, it can be rewarding to clean up your credit and take charge of your finances.
In addition to snagging better interest rates and more favorable loan terms, you'll also gain a better understanding of how credit scoring works and what factors affect your credit score.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.