How long does it take to improve your credit score?

It takes several weeks for new information to appear on your credit report, and a few months before new credit accounts start to improve your credit score. Defaults and certain public records (such as CCJs) stay on your report for six years. 

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How long does it take to improve your credit score? 

If you’re doing everything you can to build your credit score from scratch, you should start to see an improvement within three to six months.  

However, if you have a low credit score caused by past financial difficulties, it could take longer. 

What is a credit score? 

Your credit score will impact whether you can get credit products such as a mortgage, loan, credit card, or car finance. In general, the higher your credit score, the better your chance of being able to borrow money at competitive interest rates. 

In the UK, almost everyone 18 or over has a credit record and credit score. Your score isn’t static – certain behaviours will increase it, while other factors can cause it to go down. 

How long it will take for your credit score to go up will depend on your personal circumstances. For example, it will be quicker to build your credit score from no credit history than it will be to rebuild it after being made bankrupt. 

How long does it take to build credit? 

If your starting point is a thin credit file or no credit history, you could start building up a good credit score in three to six months. 

To do this, you should: 

  • Get a credit building credit card, borrow small amounts, and pay the bill in full each month, borrow small amounts and pay the bill in full each month 

  • Open a bank account 

  • Take out a pay-monthly mobile contract in your name 

When building your credit score, it is important to pay your household bills and any debt repayments on time.  

Rent payments can be reported to credit reference agencies if they go via the Rental Exchange Initiative, Canopy, or Credit Ladder. Even if your rent payments are not fed through to your credit file, any debt recovery or court action by landlords is likely to affect your credit. 

How long does it take for my credit score to go up? 

There are quick ways of improving your credit score that can build your score within weeks. Longer term changes can take months. 

The electoral roll is updated monthly. How long it will take for your electoral roll information to feed through to your credit report depends on when you apply to be added and your local authority’s monthly cut-off date for supplying new or updated registrations.  

For credit and utility accounts, it can take several weeks for updated information to appear on your credit report. It can also take a few months before payments on new accounts start to help build your credit score. 

How long does it take for your credit score to go up after paying off debt? 

The three UK credit reference agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) generally receive new information from creditors and lenders every 30 to 45 days.  

If you’ve recently paid off a debt, it may take more than a month to see any change to your credit scores. 

Paying debts will increase your credit score in the long-term. There may be a temporary dip if settling the debt affects certain factors, such as your credit mix, the length of your credit history, or your credit utilisation ratio 

How long does it take to repair your credit score? 

Repairing your credit score usually takes longer than building a good credit score from scratch. 

Missed and late payments will stay on your credit report for six years. However, their impact will reduce as the record ages. This means a missed payment two months ago will have a more negative effect on your credit score than a missed payment five years ago. 

County court judgements (CCJs) can be issued for unpaid debts and will have a negative effect on your credit score. Having a CCJ against you means a creditor has taken you to court because you owe them money, and the court has ordered that you must pay the money back. 

A CCJ will stay on your credit report for six years, even if you pay it off during this time. After six years, it will no longer appear on your credit report, even if you've not paid it all off by then. 

How long will a bankruptcy show on my credit report? 

Bankruptcy is a last resort for people who have debts they are unable to pay back. You can only be made bankrupt if you have debts of more than £5,000. 

Bankruptcy is the most serious entry that can appear on your credit report. It will show on your file for a minimum of six years, or until you're discharged if this takes longer. It will be very difficult to borrow money during this six-year period, and any credit you’re offered is likely to be at a high interest rate.  

Even after you have been discharged from bankruptcy, lenders can still ask if you’ve ever been bankrupt, and it’s best to answer this question honestly.  

How long does it take to improve your credit score after lots of hard credit searches? 

A hard credit check leaves a mark or ‘footprint’ on your credit report. Too many hard searches in a short amount of time suggest financial difficulties – and this will impact your credit score.  

Hard searches are visible to any organisation carrying out a hard check for up to two years. However, the longer ago the searches were, the less impact they would have.  

How to quickly improve your credit score 

  • Sign up for Experian Boost 

Experian Boost is a free tool that builds your credit history by taking previously unreported bills, such as entertainment subscriptions and council tax, into account. It will only improve your Experian credit score, not TransUnion or Equifax. 

  • Pay bills and debt repayments on time 

Setting up Direct Debits for regular bills and debt repayments will ensure that you never forget to make a payment. If you share a home and lack a credit history, make sure your name is on at least one of the utility bills. 

  • Get rent payments added to your credit report 

Rental payments only count towards your score automatically if your landlord is signed up for the Rental Exchange Initiative. Alternatively, Canopy and Credit Ladder both track your rent payments and report them to the credit reference agencies. The Emma money app also offers a rent reporting option. 

  • Show stability 

Staying at the same address for a long period of time, being registered to vote, and having a landline phone number all suggest stability to lenders. The same goes for staying with the same current account provider for several years. 

  • Pay insurance monthly 

If you pay for car or home insurance monthly, the insurer essentially gives you a loan for the year’s premium, and you repay it (with interest) each month. Although this will cost you more overall, it’s a type of credit, so paying it on time will boost your score. 

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

Emma Lunn, Personal Finance Writer

Emma Lunn

Personal Finance Writer

Emma has been writing about personal finance for 20 years. She's passionate about helping people make better money decisions so they have the time and money to focus on the things they love. For her, that's racket sports, hiking, and travel.