Score Advice

How Long Does It Take to Build a Credit Score?

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 co-signer 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 four 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,

The primary loan holder and cosigner share equal responsibility for the debt, and the loan will appear on both your credit report and hers. As a result, it will help him build a credit history. However, it takes time for that credit history to develop sufficiently to calculate credit scores.

How Long Before a Credit Score Can Be Calculated?

Most credit scoring systems require approximately six months of history in order to calculate a score. So, you probably just need to give it some more time.

However, having only one account is still a very "thin file" and probably won't result in high scores because you lack sufficient account history to demonstrate that you can manage credit well.

How to Further Build Your Credit History

In addition to cosigning for the car loan, here are some other steps both you and your husband can take to begin strengthening your 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 talk to your bank or credit union and see if they will open a secured credit card account for you. That means you have to deposit money in a savings account to guarantee the amount you can charge on your credit card.
    • You can 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. Use the card a little each month and pay it in full so that you aren't paying finance charges and are keeping a low debt-to-credit limit ratio, or utilization rate. Using a credit card responsibly can be the best type of credit reference to help build positive scores.

Keep in mind that applying for a lot of new accounts at once may give the appearance that you are trying to suddenly take on a lot of new debt, which is a sign of risk. 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 he will have enough history to get a credit score. It just takes patience, time and consistent payments on that car loan.

Thanks for asking.
The "Ask Experian" team

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