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How Long Does It Take to Get a Good Credit Score?

By Lyle Daly - Nov 17, 2020 at 10:00AM

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A good credit score is a popular goal, and you could reach it sooner than you think.

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When you're working on your credit, a good credit score is one of those big milestones to aim for. It doesn't mean you're done, but it's a sign that you're doing well. You can qualify for most top credit cards, and you likely won't get denied on apartment or loan applications.

You may want to know how much time it takes before you have a good credit score. While this is different for everyone, it's possible to get a reasonable estimate based on other consumers' experiences. But first, we need to cover what qualifies as good credit.

What is a good credit score?

A good credit score is a FICO® Score from 670 to 739. FICO is the most widely used credit scoring system, and it uses a score range of 300 to 850.

There is one other popular credit scoring system called VantageScore. It also uses a score range of 300 to 850. Under the VantageScore system, good credit is a score between 661 and 780.

If you're going to check your credit score, it's better to check your FICO® Score, since that's the one lenders use most often.

How long does it take to get a good credit score?

It typically takes about one to two years to get a good credit score when you're starting from scratch. That's if you don't make mistakes that hurt your credit, such as paying late or accumulating lots of credit card debt. Anything that negatively affects your credit will, of course, slow down your progress.

The reason it takes a while is because of how the credit-building process works. The first step, if you're building credit for the first time, is opening a credit account. To issue you a credit score, FICO requires that you have a credit account that's at least six months old. VantageScore can issue you a score even if the account hasn't been open that long.

With both the FICO and VantageScore systems, the most important factor in calculating your score is your payment history. Each on-time payment builds your credit score. This is the biggest reason why you won't have a good credit score right off the bat. You need to develop a strong payment history.

Consumers who open credit accounts, use them regularly, and always pay their bills by the due date generally reach the good credit score mark within two years.

Rebuilding to a good credit score

That one- to two-year timeline covers those who are building credit for the first time. It doesn't necessarily apply if you're rebuilding your credit after your score has dropped, though.

When you're rebuilding credit, the time it takes to get a good credit score depends heavily on why your score went down. If you charged too much to your card and your credit utilization ratio got too high, you could fix that in one or two months by paying off your balance. On the other hand, if you filed for bankruptcy or had multiple late payments, it could take years for your credit score to recover.

The path to good credit

It's smart to set credit goals, and good credit is a common starting point. You can't be exactly sure how fast you'll get there, but if you follow the right financial habits, you'll make steady progress.

Fortunately, there's nothing complicated about what you need to do. Get at least one credit card that you use regularly. (Consumers often start with credit cards for bad credit, since these are the easiest cards to open.) Avoid charging too much -- aim to never use more than 20% of your total credit. Most importantly, always pay the bill on time, and ideally in full so you don't get charged any interest.

That's all you need to do for a good credit score. After that, make sure you stick to the same habits so that your score keeps rising.

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