How Long Does It Take to Build a Credit Score?

shadow of hand hovering over the screen of a tablet
Dear Experian,

My husband and I recently purchased a used car. He makes an annual income of $63,000 and I am a full-time, unemployed student. Because he had zero credit and I had student loans and a low credit score, we were only able to sign jointly for the car. He was told being the cosigner would be a great way to start earning credit. He's tried to get a credit card but continues to be denied for lack of credit. We've had the car now for a few months and all payments have been on-time. We just ran his credit looking at refinancing the car to a lower interest rate and the account is there, but he still does not have a credit score. Our bank suggested contacting you to see how long it takes before he will begin earning a credit score.


Dear CJF,

Cosigning for a loan means both the primary loan holder and cosigner share equal responsibility for the debt. So, the loan will appear on both your credit report and his. As a result, it will help him build a credit history. However, it takes time for that credit history to develop sufficiently enough that credit scores can be calculated.

How Long Before a Credit Score Can Be Calculated?

Most credit scoring systems require at least three months of history in order to calculate a score, and some may require more. So, you probably just need to give it some more time.

However, a credit history with only one account is considered a "thin file" and probably won't result in high scores. That's because you lack sufficient account history to demonstrate that you can manage credit well. That will change with time.

How to Further Build Your Credit History

In addition to cosigning for the car loan, here are some other steps you and your husband can take to begin strengthening your individual credit histories:

  • Open a credit card account. If you and your husband aren't able to open a traditional credit card account right away, we suggest that you each talk to your respective bank or credit union and see if they will open secured credit card accounts for you. This type of card requires a security deposit that guarantees the amount you can charge on your credit card. You could also ask a family member if they would be willing to cosign for you or to add you to one of their credit card accounts as an authorized user.
  • Make payments on time and keep balances low. Once you have a revolving account in your name, use it to make small purchases each month and pay them off in full so that you aren't paying interest charges and are keeping your credit utilization low. Using a credit card responsibly can be the best type of credit to use to help build positive scores.
  • Sign up for Experian Boost®ø. Experian offers a free service that could help you lift your FICO® Score by adding your on-time utility, cellphone and streaming service payments to your Experian credit report. This can be especially beneficial for consumers with thin files or those with credit scores below 680.

Keep in mind that applying for a lot of new accounts at once may be seen as a sign of risk by lenders and credit scoring models. For that reason, it's a good idea to minimize your credit applications and read up on credit score requirements before applying to avoid rejection. Getting prequalified or preapproved can also help you in this regard. If you're unsure of what credit cards you may qualify for, Experian CreditMatch™ can match you to cards suitable to your unique credit profile.

If you don't have a cosigner and you aren't able to qualify for a secured credit card right away, continue making your loan payments on time and wait a while before trying again. Eventually, your husband will have enough credit history to calculate a credit score. It just takes patience, time and consistent payments on that car loan.

Thanks for asking.

Jennifer White, Consumer Education Specialist

How Good Is Your Credit Score?

300 credit score301 credit score302 credit score303 credit score304 credit score305 credit score306 credit score307 credit score308 credit score309 credit score310 credit score311 credit score312 credit score313 credit score314 credit score315 credit score316 credit score317 credit score318 credit score319 credit score320 credit score321 credit score322 credit score323 credit score324 credit score325 credit score326 credit score327 credit score328 credit score329 credit score330 credit score331 credit score332 credit score333 credit score334 credit score335 credit score336 credit score337 credit score338 credit score339 credit score340 credit score341 credit score342 credit score343 credit score344 credit score345 credit score346 credit score347 credit score348 credit score349 credit score350 credit score351 credit score352 credit score353 credit score354 credit score355 credit score356 credit score357 credit score358 credit score359 credit score360 credit score361 credit score362 credit score363 credit score364 credit score365 credit score366 credit score367 credit score368 credit score369 credit score370 credit score371 credit score372 credit score373 credit score374 credit score375 credit score376 credit score377 credit score378 credit score379 credit score380 credit score381 credit score382 credit score383 credit score384 credit score385 credit score386 credit score387 credit score388 credit score389 credit score390 credit score391 credit score392 credit score393 credit score394 credit score395 credit score396 credit score397 credit score398 credit score399 credit score400 credit score401 credit score402 credit score403 credit score404 credit score405 credit score406 credit score407 credit score408 credit score409 credit score410 credit score411 credit score412 credit score413 credit score414 credit score415 credit score416 credit score417 credit score418 credit score419 credit score420 credit score421 credit score422 credit score423 credit score424 credit score425 credit score426 credit score427 credit score428 credit score429 credit score430 credit score431 credit score432 credit score433 credit score434 credit score435 credit score436 credit score437 credit score438 credit score439 credit score440 credit score441 credit score442 credit score443 credit score444 credit score445 credit score446 credit score447 credit score448 credit score449 credit score450 credit score451 credit score452 credit score453 credit score454 credit score455 credit score456 credit score457 credit score458 credit score459 credit score460 credit score461 credit score462 credit score463 credit score464 credit score465 credit score466 credit score467 credit score468 credit score469 credit score470 credit score471 credit score472 credit score473 credit score474 credit score475 credit score476 credit score477 credit score478 credit score479 credit score480 credit score481 credit score482 credit score483 credit score484 credit score485 credit score486 credit score487 credit score488 credit score489 credit score490 credit score491 credit score492 credit score493 credit score494 credit score495 credit score496 credit score497 credit score498 credit score499 credit score500 credit score501 credit score502 credit score503 credit score504 credit score505 credit score506 credit score507 credit score508 credit score509 credit score510 credit score511 credit score512 credit score513 credit score514 credit score515 credit score516 credit score517 credit score518 credit score519 credit score520 credit score521 credit score522 credit score523 credit score524 credit score525 credit score526 credit score527 credit score528 credit score529 credit score530 credit score531 credit score532 credit score533 credit score534 credit score535 credit score536 credit score537 credit score538 credit score539 credit score540 credit score541 credit score542 credit score543 credit score544 credit score545 credit score546 credit score547 credit score548 credit score549 credit score550 credit score551 credit score552 credit score553 credit score554 credit score555 credit score556 credit score557 credit score558 credit score559 credit score560 credit score561 credit score562 credit score563 credit score564 credit score565 credit score566 credit score567 credit score568 credit score569 credit score570 credit score571 credit score572 credit score573 credit score574 credit score575 credit score576 credit score577 credit score578 credit score579 credit score