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Credit Repair

How Long Does It Take to Repair Your Credit?

Through April 20, 2022, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax will offer all U.S. consumers free weekly credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com to help you protect your financial health during the sudden and unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19.

Dear Experian,

How can I remove collections and late payments and repair my credit report? How long does it take? I would like to buy a house in four months.

- PSO

Dear PSO,

Unfortunately, there is no quick way to "repair" or "fix" your credit. The length of time it takes to rebuild your credit history depends on how serious your credit issues were and how your credit history was affected. It could take just a few months, or it could require several years of commitment. In either case, there are steps you can start taking right away to help get your credit back on track.

How Long Will Negative Information Appear on My Credit Report?

Negative payment information, such as collections, late payments and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, will remain on your credit report for seven years, while Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain for up to 10 years.

Negative information tends to affect your credit scores less as time goes on, but serious delinquencies such as charge-offs or collections are harder to recover from than one or two missed payments. However, there are ways to begin the process of improving your credit history as soon as possible and as quickly as possible.

What Can I Do to Repair My Credit?

If you want to begin the process of rehabilitating your credit, it's a good idea to start by getting copies of your credit reports from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. You can order your credit reports from each of the three credit reporting agencies for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also get your free credit report directly from Experian anytime.

While reviewing your reports, keep the following in mind:

  1. The single most important factor in determining your creditworthiness is your payment history. Make it a priority to make all your debt payments on time going forward. You may also be able to help your scores by paying off any outstanding debts and bringing any accounts that are currently past due up to date.
  2. Another important factor is your credit utilization rate. Your utilization rate is calculated by adding up the total of all your credit card balances and dividing them by the total of all your credit card limits. The lower your utilization rate, the better, so reducing or paying off any balances you are carrying on your credit cards will positively impact your credit report and scores.

Pay Attention to the Factors Affecting Your Credit Score

Aside from paying down balances and making sure all your accounts are kept current, you may want to order your credit score. When you order your free credit score from Experian, you will receive with it a list of the top risk factors that are currently affecting the number.

Since everyone's credit history is unique, paying attention to the score factors will help you gain a clearer understanding of what you can do to improve your credit over time.

Experian also offers a free service call Experian Boost , which allows you to add positive utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your credit report that would not otherwise be included. This positive payment history can be added to your report going back up to 24 months. The signup process is quick and easy, and at the end of it you will be provided with a new FICO® Score so you can see how much your score has increased.

Because your credit report reflects serious delinquencies, such as collection accounts, it may be difficult to see significant improvement in just four months. But, if you keep your credit card balances low and make all your payments on time going forward, your credit score should continue to improve, and you should eventually be able to get that house.

Thanks for asking,
Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist