How Long Does It Really Take to Establish a Robust Credit Score?

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  • How Long Does It Really Take to Establish a Robust Credit Score?
Author: Joseph Reinke, CFA

Credit scores are the financial report cards that determine our ability to borrow and shape our path toward significant life events – buying a car, renting a home, or owning a business. For young professionals just starting, the question often looms large: how long does it really take to build credit?

This extensive guide dives into the intricacies of credit building, unpacking processes, and shedding light on crucial factors. Whether you’re fresh out of college or shifting careers, understanding the nuances of credit enhancement is your blueprint to financial freedom.

Using the information below, we’ve seen young professionals increase their scores into the 750 – 800 range within 3 – 6 months.  Therefore, the more you understand and the quicker you implement the information below, the quicker it will increase!

Understanding Credit Scores

Before we march into the nitty-gritty of building your credit, it’s crucial to understand what these elusive numbers truly mean. Credit scores are summaries of your creditworthiness, i.e. if you get a loan will you pay it back. They indicate to lenders the level of risk they take on if they extend credit to you. The higher your score, the more likely you are to repay debts responsibly, which is music to any lender’s ears.

Different Scoring Models

The two primary credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore.

FICO, which stands for Fair Isaac Corporation, is the industry standard and is calculated based on data from the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

VantageScore, a newer player, provides a similar assessment but uses different algorithms and may offer a different perspective on your credit.

Credit Score Ranges

Both FICO and VantageScore have a score range; higher numbers are better. For FICO, the top score is 850, and anything above 720 is considered excellent. VantageScore uses the same 300 to 850 scale, with similar definitions for creditworthiness.

The Foundations of Building Credit

Zero credit? No problem. There are strategies tailored to those starting from scratch.  You can also use these if you are trying to repair your credit as well!

Open Your First Credit Account

The first step is often the most daunting, but it’s also the most critical. Opening a credit account is where you start. It’s a declarative step that initiates the credit building process.

If you already have credit cards open, do not close them. You’ll see why below!

Authorized User Paths

Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card can give your score a quick, positive jolt. Ensure the primary account holder is responsible with their credit, because their habits will reflect on your score, for better or worse.

For example, if you have a parent that has a good credit score, they can add you to their card.  Doing so automatically gives you a credit history.  This is one of the best ways to get or increase a credit score quickly!

Secured Credit Cards as Stepping Stones

For the ultra-cautious, secured credit cards provide a less risky way to use credit. They require a deposit and generally come with lower limits, but they function the same as regular credit cards and can be instrumental in establishing a solid credit foundation.

This is an awesome way to start building credit and we see this done with those still pursuing a higher education degree all the time.

The Credit Mix Conundrum

Your credit mix, the types of credit accounts you have, makes up about 10% of your credit score. It’s favorable to have a healthy variety, such as a mix of revolving and installment accounts, showcasing your ability to manage diverse types of credit.

In everyday speak, credit cards, home loans, car loans, student loans, etc… are all different types of credit.  Having a mix helps.  Yes, the credit scoring companies like when you are in debt.

The Timeline to Credit Building

Buckle in for the long haul. Building credit is a marathon, not a sprint.

Understanding the Speed Variables

Your credit score isn’t static; it evolves over time. The factors at play include payment history, credit utilization, and credit age.

Payment History’s Weight

On-time payments contribute to approximately 35% of your credit score, making it one of the heaviest hitters in the credit game.

The Credit Utilization Ratio Tenet

Credit utilization, or the ratio of your card balances to credit limits, accounts for about 30% of your score. Keeping this ratio low is a golden rule in credit management.

The Implications of New Accounts and Credit Inquiries

New credit can be a double-edged sword. While it diversifies your credit mix, new accounts and inquiries can initially ding your score.  Therefore, only open accounts if you are just starting out or you know you won’t need a loan for more than a year into the future.

Overcoming Negative Credit Events

Life happens, and sometimes it leaves a blemish on our credit profiles. But every negative event has a path to recovery.

Navigating Late Payments

Late payments aren’t permanent stains. They typically take seven years to fall off your credit report, but their impact lessens over time, especially as you accumulate on-time payments.  Using the tricks above, especially the credit utilization trick can greatly speed up the process of building your credit and increasing your score.

Tackling Collections Wisely

Collections can be daunting but negotiating a ‘pay-for-delete’ can be an effective solution.

The Long Road After Bankruptcy

Bankruptcies are painful, but they too shall pass. They affect your credit for up to ten years, but the impact wanes with responsible credit behavior.

Foreclosures and Their Fade

Foreclosures also ring in at around seven years on your credit report. Since they’re serious events, the recovery process may take longer but dutiful credit building will yield results.

Actionable Steps to Accelerate Credit Building

Feeling the need for speed in your credit transformation? Here’s how to turbocharge your efforts.

The Art of Consistency in Payments

Making on-time payments, all the time, is the most straightforward way to bolster your credit health.

Unlocking the Low Credit Utilization Secret

Keeping your credit card balances low in proportion to your credit limit is a potent method for rapid credit score ascension.

The Vital Role of Credit Report Scrutiny

Your credit report is your window into your creditworthiness as seen by lenders. Regular reviews can help you catch errors and address them swiftly.

Tools and Resources for Credit Checks

Free annual credit reports are your right. Use them to stay on top of your credit situation. Additionally, many financial institutions and credit monitoring services provide regular score updates.

Maintaining and Protecting Your Credit

The fruits of your labor are as important to preserve as they are to harvest. Protecting your credit and maintaining it are lifelong endeavors.

The Long-Term Credit Health Playbook

Building credit is a puzzle; maintaining it is a discipline. It’s all about consistent, responsible use of credit.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Avoiding common pitfalls like maxing out credit cards, ignoring your credit report, and not addressing credit errors is as vital as all the steps you’ve taken to build your credit.

Credit Monitoring and Fraud Protection Tools

Utilize the plethora of credit monitoring apps and services available to keep tabs on your credit report for any suspicious activity or possible fraud.


The road to a well-paved financial future is often riddled with credit-building endeavors, but the destination is worth the drive. Patience and determination are your two most reliable companions on this journey. Remember, we at FitBUX are here for tailored advice and support to ensure your credit building process is as efficient and successful as your burgeoning career.

Armed with the knowledge from this guide, you’re well-equipped to take firm strides towards a robust credit score, securing your path towards the many ventures life has in store for you. Be bold, be diligent, and watch as your credit score eloquently reflects the responsible, savvy professional you are becoming. Here’s to a future as bright as your credit score.

Joseph Reinke, CFA

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About the Author

Joseph Reinke is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charter Holder and founder of FitBUX which has helped over 14,000 young professionals on their journey to financial freedom. Joseph has been personally investing since he was 12 years old.

In addition, he has experience in student loans, mortgages, wealth management, investment banking, valuation, stock trading, and option trading. He has been on 100s of podcast and has been invited to 100s of universities to discuss financial planning with their soon to be graduates.

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