When your credit score starts going down, it can snowball if you're not careful. And you can find yourself with a poor score in a couple of months and unable to get the financial deals you want.
But the worst thing you can do in this situation is to sit there and watch your score plummet. Instead, you should start taking action to bounce back.
And it's always better to start early because you don't want to have to start repairing because of an emergency. But how long does credit repair take, exactly? That's our topic for the day, so stick around!
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The Short Answer
No specific time interval applies to everyone who wants to fix their credit score. It depends on factors like your current score, how long you've been in this situation, if you've gone bankrupt recently, and comments left by your previous debtors.
It'll take about three months to a year for most people to repair your credit. But if your score isn't that bad, it can take a month or two.
Conversely, if you've been in debt or have a couple of years with a poor prior credit history, you might need at least a couple of years.
Your best bet is to dispute negative items with your debtors and errors in your credit reports with the three major credit bureaus.
You should also change your spending habits and maybe consider a credit-builder loan to start your rebuilding journey while you're at it.
What's A Bad Credit Score?
Many people talk about their bad scores when they dip below 650. And while it's always good to aim for a higher score, you should understand what qualifies as a bad credit score.
The consensus is that a score below 550-570 is when you venture into "bad credit" territory. And 300-500 is when you'll likely be in trouble.
According to the two most common credit scoring models, FICO and VantageScore, a poor score is below 580 and 600, respectively. Additionally, VantageScore considers scores below 500 to be very poor.
How Long Does It Take To Repair Credit?
Repairing your credit can take anywhere from a couple of months to a few years.
And for those who experience a setback, such as bankruptcy, it can take up to seven years to rebound to your previous score.
It mostly depends on the state of your credit reports and payment history.
For instance, if your previous credit reports contain errors, then you can repair your credit much faster than if you had a long history of late payments or, even worse, bankruptcies.
Here's is one credit repair example with those that we helped.
1. Test Client #1
When I first started my credit repair business, we wanted to confirm our results before offering any kind of credit advice.
So my dad was actually one of my very first test clients with a credit score of 650.
So, we sent out a few dispute letters to fix his past mistakes and visible errors. After two months we were able to increase his score and remove two collection accounts from his financial records.
After all that was completed, we then advised him to refinance his auto loan which lowered his interest rate and he now saves money every month.
The Credit Repair Process
The credit repair process is usually tedious. But there's no escaping it, so you better start early! Otherwise, you're just prolonging the hassles of having a bad credit score.
Let's go over a few ways you can combat the lengthy time of repairing your credit rating.
1. Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report
The first step you want to take is to check your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus.
You can get your free reports from AnnualCreditReport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228; then, you should review each report thoroughly and highlight any errors.
The problem is that reports can be confusing and full of financial jargon, and there's no guarantee that you'll find errors in your reports.
But if you do, it's a quick way to repair your credit by contacting your credit bureau and getting them to correct your report.
2. Hire a Credit Repair Company
As I mentioned, your credit report will contain a lot of information and terms that will most likely go over your head if you don't know the terminology—for example, annual percentage ratio, credit utilization ratio, specific fees, and so on.
And even if you know these terms, perhaps you're too busy to contact the credit bureaus and follow up with them until they solve the problem.
So if you've got some spare money and would rather pay someone to do the heavy lifting, you can hire a credit repair company.
Credit repair companies are like the lawyers of the credit world. They take your information and go through the process on your behalf.
And while credit repair services aren't essential for repairing your credit, I'd recommend them if you're anxious about doing the credit repair process on your own.
3. Talk to Your Debtors
The most important factor that can make or break your credit score is your payment history. And most times, if your score took a dip because of a history of late payments, you'll find that your debtors left some negative information on your profile.
If you find incorrect negative items, you should contact your debtors and have them remove or fix their remarks.
But if there's accurate negative information, you're likely stuck with it for a while. And some accurate negative items stay for several years, depending on the severity.
Nonetheless, you could try contacting your debtors and negotiating with them to remove their remarks. And unfortunately, this can take months of trying to convince them, and they might still refuse.
Still, you should pay off your debt as soon as possible and maybe give it a shot.
4. Pay Off Your Debt
Making consistent on-time payments is the backbone of rebuilding good credit. And you likely won't rebound to your previous good score without paying off your debt first.
So start adjusting your priorities and setting aside money to pay off your debt as soon as possible.
And remember, the more on-time payments you make, the easier it is to acquire a more positive credit history.
5. Get a Higher Credit Limit
Many poor credit scores stem from borrowing more money than your credit limit.
And unfortunately, many people are also susceptible to accidentally going over their credit limits and consequently getting in trouble with their issuer.
So if your credit card issuer allows this, you can ask them for a higher credit card limit.
And while getting a higher credit limit won't directly repair your credit score, it'll help you lower your credit utilization ratio and thus, improve your credit score.
6. Improve Your Spending Habits
The reason I mentioned earlier that credit scores can easily snowball when you take a hit is because many people continue living a financially reckless life on their damaged credit scores.
If you can't pay back your current debt, you shouldn't accumulate more debt so that you don't get into a vicious cycle of borrowing money to pay off your previous debtors.
That's why I often recommend people stop using their credit cards for all their transactions while repairing their scores.
Instead, you should set a realistic budget and live by it using a secured payment method, such as a debit card or cash.
Of course, you'll have to practice self-discipline to avoid overspending every month and damaging your credit score even more. But think of the consequences and balance your finances.
7. Be Patient
Another reason many people's scores plummet further is that they put off the credit repair process because it'll take too long. And yes, I understand it can be daunting when your objective is at least several months away, but there's no way around this.
Think of repairing your credit as a side gig you're working towards rather than an active mission you need to complete immediately.
8. Use Credit Repair Software
Using credit repair software can help speed up the credit fixing process much faster. We use software and credit-building apps to help others when they are starting to rebuild their credit.
The software I use is Credit Repair Cloud which allows you to start your own CRO business without all the tech headache.
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How to Dispute a Credit Report Error
A credit report is typically filled with financial jargon that the average consumer won't understand. That's why consumers often hire a credit repair service instead of going through the dispute process.
But if you'd like to take matters into your own hands, you can follow these steps to dispute errors in your credit reports.
Download Your Credit Reports
You get a free report from each credit bureau once a year, and you can request your free credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can also use credit monitoring services to view all three credit reports on a monthly basis.
To download your reports, you'll need to sign in by entering your full name, date of birth, address, and social security number. The website uses these for verification, so make sure you're on AnnualCreditReport.com and not another similarly-sounding site.
It'll then ask you some security questions about your finances. If you can't answer the questions (often because you don't remember specific details), you can request your copy by calling 1-877-322-8228.
Review the Reports Thoroughly
Next, go through the reports thoroughly and search for errors. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours, depending on how much you understand the terminology and how familiar you are with the report's format.
Keep an eye out for your credit utilization ratio, which you can calculate by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit limits.
You should always aim for a lower ratio. So if you suspect yours is listed as too high, you can calculate it on your own to fact-check.
Contacting the Credit Bureaus
Go to the dispute center of the credit bureau you want to contact and read the relevant information.
Once you've understood their terms, write up a dispute letter containing each error in your report, the reason for your dispute, what you think the correct figures are, and any other details they might ask for.
Credit bureaus should reply soon to acknowledge your dispute and give you the necessary updates. They'll also tell you to wait until further contact.
If you're lucky, you can get your results back within 30 days of submission. But in more complicated cases, disputes can take several months to resolve.
Rebuilding Good Credit
Repairing and rebuilding credit go in hand in hand. After all, if you want to move toward a good credit score, you'll need to work on it while you're waiting for the repair process.
Take a Credit-Builder Loan
You can find low-cost loans at your local credit union or use a credit-builder app to help you rebuild your credit. You can also ask about share-secured loans, which can also be helpful.
Get a Secured Credit Card
A secured credit card can help you build credit without risking going into excessive debt since you have to submit a security deposit first.
Become an Authorized User
Gaining authorization on a trusted person's credit card will earn you a positive payment history, which can help you in the rebuilding process.
So, How Long Does Credit Repair Take Then?
To summarize, the credit repair process can be long and tedious. And from my personal experience, improving your credit can take at least six months.
But your credit score isn't going to fix itself, so you need to start working on it as soon as possible.
For most people, it should take about half a year to one year to get out of this pickle. And while you're doing it, I recommend you work on building a good credit score while you're at it.
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You can do this using a credit-builder loan, a secured credit card, or by becoming an authorized user on a trusted person's card.
Make sure you use your free annual credit report by downloading your reports and analyzing them for errors. And if you find errors, you should write a dispute letter to your credit bureaus. This is the fastest way to repair credit for most people.
Otherwise, you'll have to adjust your spending habits to pay off your debt and get back on track. But don't get impatient because you could fall into an even deeper pit.