How Long Does it Take for Your Credit Score to Improve

A woman is up late on her laptop
••• © Peter Dazeley / Getty

Your credit score is a sensitive number – three digits that can move up or down on any given day depending on how the information in your credit report changes. If you’ve been working to improve your credit score – by paying off past due accounts, correcting errors, making timely payments, or having negative items deleted from your credit report – you undoubtedly want to see the results of your efforts as quickly as possible.

And if you need your credit score to increase so you can get approved for a loan or get a better interest rate, you're probably eager to see improvement soon.

How Soon Will Your Credit Score Improve?

Unfortunately, there’s really no way to predict how soon your credit score will go up or how much it will go up. We do know that it will take at least the amount of time it takes the business to update your credit report. Some businesses send credit report updates daily, others monthly. It can take up to several weeks for a change to appear on your credit report.

Once your credit report is updated with positive information, there’s no guarantee your credit score will go up right away or that it will increase enough to make a difference with an application. Your credit score could remain the same – or could even go down – depending on the significance of the change and the other information on your credit report.

The only thing you can do is watch your credit score to see how it changes and continue making the right credit moves.

What Affects Credit Score Update Timing?

The timing of credit score updates is based on the timing of changes to your credit report. Since your credit score is calculated instantly using the information on your credit report at a given point in time, all it takes to raise your credit score is a positive changes to your credit report information.

At the same time, having negative information added to your credit report can offset positive changes you might have seen to your credit score. For example, if you receive a credit limit increase (therefore lowering your credit utilization) but a late payment is also added to your credit report, you may not see your credit score improve. In fact, your credit score could fall.

Seriously negative information can weigh your credit score down making it take longer to improve your credit score. For example, it can take longer to improve your credit score if you have bankruptcy, debt collections, repossession, or foreclosure on your credit report. The more recent these items are, the more they will impact your credit score.

Fastest Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

It takes time to improve your credit score, especially if you have lots of negative items on your credit report. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to raise your credit score quickly. Paying down a large credit card balance or getting a credit limit increase, especially before your account statement closing date, can impact your credit score relatively quickly. Both of these improves your credit utilization, which is 30% of your credit score.

Disputing a negative error from your credit report can also raise your credit score, especially if you talk to the creditor over the phone and have them remove the error from your credit report right away. To enforce your rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you have to dispute credit report errors in writing. However, some creditors are willing to remove legitimate errors with just a phone call. The update can appear on your credit report and impact your credit score in just a few days if the creditor is willing to work with you.

If you're unable to dispute an error over the phone, disputing in writing is still effective, particularly if you have proof of the error. The dispute process can take 30 to 45 days while the credit bureau investigates then updates your credit report. Once the error is removed from your credit report, it will factor into your credit score right away.

How to Monitor Your Credit Score

You can monitor changes in your credit scores for free by using CreditKarma.com or CreditSesame.com which give you free access to your non-FICO credit scores. Credit Karma updates your TransUnion and Equifax credit scores daily while Credit Sesame delivers monthly updates to your Experian credit score. If there are changes to either of those credit reports, you can see the subsequent credit score change using the free services.

Some credit card issuers give their cardholders a free FICO score on each month's billing statement. Discover, First National Bank of Omaha, and Barclaycard all offer free FICO scores each month. Capital One offers a free TransUnion Educational Score. Check with your credit card issuer to find out whether they provide free access to your credit score.

Estimating Credit Score Changes

While you’re waiting for your credit report and score to update, you can use a credit score simulator to estimate how your credit score might change. Credit Karma and myFICO both offer credit score simulators that can show how your credit score might change if the information on your credit report changes, if you pay off an account or open a new loan, for example. Credit Karma’s simulator is included with your free membership to their service. The simulator offered through myFICO with the FICO Score Watch only for your Equifax credit score for $14.95 per month.

Rapid Rescoring for Fast Credit Score Updates

There’s one more service that can give you earlier access to credit score changes, but only in a narrow set of circumstances. If you’re applying for a mortgage loan, the lender may offer , a service that will update your credit score within 48 to 72 hours. It doesn’t work for every situation. You need to have proof that there’s inaccurate information on your credit report, like a payment inaccurately reported as late. And you can only do this with certain mortgage lenders when you're trying to qualify for a mortgage or get better terms; it’s not a service available directly to consumers or with other types of businesses.