How Long Does It Take to Build Good Credit From Scratch?

Updated on March 12, 2024

At a Glance

  • Establishing a credit foundation takes 3-6 months.
  • A decent score can be achieved in a year.
  • An exceptional rating requires years of responsible credit practices.

Building good credit is a journey that requires time, discipline, and a keen understanding of the factors influencing your credit score. While the path to good credit varies for each individual, fundamental elements determine the speed at which credit can be established. This guide explores these factors and provides strategies for effective credit building, helping you develop a strong credit profile.

Quick Answer: How Long Does it Take to Build Good Credit?

Starting from scratch, most people can establish a credit foundation in as little as three to six months. Within a year, you could be looking at a decent credit score. However, aspiring for an exceptional credit rating? That’s a journey that spans a few years. The key is to commit to following responsible financial behavior.

Understanding the Timeline of Building Credit

Beginning with no credit history? Expect to see a credit score emerge between three to six months. Within a year, you might be pleasantly surprised with a respectable score. Case in point: I secured approval for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, a top-tier travel credit card, after just 12 months of credit cultivation.

Building Credit is Easy, Actually

Simply put, if you have a credit card, personal loan, or any credit line, you start building credit. This essentially means improving your credit history, thereby providing lenders with clearer insights into your creditworthiness.

However, a caveat: In building credit, missteps like missed payments or high credit card utilization can set you back. To truly improve your credit score, following sensible financial habits is essential.

What is “Good Credit” though?

While lenders might have different definitions of creditworthiness, FICO score ranges serve as a widely accepted benchmark:

  • 300-579: Very poor
  • 580-669: Fair
  • 670-739: Good
  • 740-799: Very good
  • 800-850: Excellent

As a general rule, you should hold off on applying for high-end or even middle-tier credit cards until your credit score is 700+. This not only increases your approval odds but also reduces any negative impact on your credit score due to hard inquiries.

Factors Influencing Credit Building Speed

Building good credit takes time, effort, and a thorough knowledge of the factors influencing your credit score. While everyone’s credit-building journey is unique, the following 4 elements influence the speed at which you can establish good credit.

Financial Responsibility

Managing finances and making timely payments is crucial. Paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low may help you create credit more quickly by signaling to lenders that you are a dependable borrower.

Credit History Length

Your credit history duration influences how quickly you can build credit. Starting from scratch will take more time than if you already have a longer credit history. However, you can still achieve a solid credit score with the right strategies and proactive steps.

Types of Credit

Diversifying your credit portfolio with different types of credit, such as credit cards, loans, and mortgages, will help you establish credit faster. This diversity demonstrates your ability to handle other financial responsibilities.

Credit Inquiries

Be cautious of excessive credit inquiries. A hard question is recorded on your credit report when you apply for credit. Multiple hard inquiries within a short period can slow down the credit-building process.

7 Strategies to Build Credit Quickly:

Integrating these tactics into your financial habits can help you create credit quickly. Remember that excellent credit takes time and consistency, so stick to appropriate credit management practices, and your credit score will increase over time.

1. Securing Your First Credit Card

Obtaining a credit card can be a crucial first step in building credit. Look for credit cards designed for individuals with limited or no credit history. Although the initial credit limit may be low, responsible use and on-time payments can help you build your credit score over time. Choose a credit card with no annual fees and low-interest rates.

2. Paying Off Installment Loans

If you have installment loans like student or car loans, making regular payments and ultimately paying them off can significantly boost your credit-building efforts. Lenders view borrowers who successfully manage and repay their loans favorably, which can positively impact your credit score. Make sure to pay these loans on time and in full.

3. Becoming an Authorized User on Another’s Account

An effective way to expedite your credit-building journey is by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. This person should have a strong credit history and responsible credit card usage. By being added as an authorized user, you can benefit from their positive credit history, which can substantially boost your credit score. Ensure the primary cardholder makes on-time payments and maintains a low credit utilization ratio for the best results.

4. Responsible Credit Card Usage

Once you have your credit card, use it responsibly. This means making timely payments, ideally, in full each month, to avoid interest charges. Keep your credit utilization ratio (the percentage of your credit limit that you use) low, ideally below 30%. Responsible credit card usage is critical in building and maintaining good credit.

5. Diversify Your Credit Types

Credit forms like credit cards, installment loans, and mortgages can help you build credit faster. Diversity displays your capacity to manage various financial obligations. If you don’t have installment loans, consider taking out a small personal loan to diversify your credit profile, but only if you’re confident in your ability to manage it properly.

6. Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report

Stay vigilant by regularly checking your credit report for errors or inaccuracies. Dispute any discrepancies you find to ensure your credit report accurately reflects your credit history. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each major credit bureau.

7. Avoid Excessive Credit Inquiries

Be mindful of how often you apply for credit. Each credit inquiry (hard inquiry) can temporarily lower your credit score. Avoid making multiple credit applications quickly, which can slow down your credit-building progress.

Best Personal Loans for Building Credit

Building a robust credit profile is essential for future financial endeavors, and taking a personal loan is one strategic way to enhance credit scores. By making timely repayments on such loans, borrowers can demonstrate financial responsibility and potentially boost their credit. If you’re looking to fast-track your credit building process with a personal loan, these lenders offer tailored solutions across various credit spectrums.

AmOne (Best for Okay to Good Credit)

For individuals whose credit is already decent but could use a bit of polishing, AmOne is an ideal starting point. Their platform matches borrowers with lenders that best fit their profiles. With timely repayments, an AmOne-associated loan can serve as a valuable stepping stone in the journey of credit enhancement.

AmOne Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.


  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.


  • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
  • No cost for the matching service.
  • Attractive loan rates.


  • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
  • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
  • Lack of clarity on lender details.

Spring Loans (Best for Bad Credit and No Credit)

No credit or a damaged credit history doesn’t mean the end of the road. Spring Loans caters specifically to such applicants, offering a lifeline to build or rebuild credit. By focusing on more than just a credit score and understanding each individual’s financial story, Spring Loans can set borrowers on a path to a brighter financial future.

Spring Loans Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.


  • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
  • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
  • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
  • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
  • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
  • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.


  • Open to applicants with any credit background.
  • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
  • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
  • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
  • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.


  • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
  • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
  • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
  • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

Recognizing the significance of giving individuals a second chance, First Premier Lending offers personal loans to those with tarnished credit histories. Their approach prioritizes holistic financial assessments over mere numbers. With consistent and responsible loan management, borrowers can leverage First Premier Lending’s offerings to carve a path toward improved creditworthiness.

First Premier Lending Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.


  • Maintain a consistent source of income.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
  • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
  • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.


  • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
  • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
  • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
  • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.


  • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
  • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
  • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
  • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

Upgrade (Best for Good to Great Credit)

Upgrade is an excellent platform for those already on solid credit ground but aiming to reach the next tier. Their transparent loan terms and automated system provide an opportunity for borrowers to consolidate debt or manage expenses while further establishing their credit credibility.

Upgrade Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)


  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.


  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.


  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

BestEgg (Best for Good Credit)

For individuals with a good credit base who are looking to solidify their standing, BestEgg presents a viable avenue. Known for their straightforward processes and user-friendly platform, BestEgg’s personal loans, when managed responsibly, can act as a tool to bolster one’s credit portfolio, ensuring that the foundation laid is even stronger for future financial endeavors.

BestEgg Personal Loan

Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score


Fixed APR


Variable APR



  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 8.99-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $2,000-$50,000.
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years.


  • Targets borrowers with good to excellent credit; fair credit may qualify.
  • Minimum credit score of 600.
  • At least two years of credit history.
  • Minimum annual income: $3,500 from various sources like employment, alimony, and more.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: 40%, or 65% when including a mortgage.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.


  • Soft credit check available for pre-qualification.
  • Offers a diverse spectrum of loan amounts.
  • Provides options for secured loans.
  • Direct payments can be made to creditors for debt consolidation.
  • Late fees are not charged.


  • Charges an origination fee.
  • Doesn’t offer rate discounts.
  • Initial payment date isn’t customizable.
  • Lacks a dedicated mobile app for loan management.

The Importance of Fast-Tracking Your Way to Stellar Credit

Building credit swiftly can set the stage for numerous advantages in your financial journey. A robust credit score not only helps in securing loans but also determines the terms and rates you’re offered. From enhancing your living arrangements to broadening career opportunities, let’s delve into why accelerating your credit growth is beneficial:

Immediate Gains from Accelerated Credit Growth

Building credit rapidly can yield quick tangible benefits in various aspects of your financial life. Delving into the immediate perks:

  • Immediate Financial Leverage – Rapidly building good credit offers immediate financial advantages, like favorable loan terms, reduced interest rates, and competitive insurance premiums.
  • Quick Loan Perks – Speeding up your credit growth can lead to faster loan approvals and preferential interest rates, translating to substantial savings.
  • Early Access to Prime Offers – A swift ascent in your credit score can grant quicker access to elite credit card deals and increased credit limits.

Impacting Life Decisions and Opportunities

A robust credit score can significantly influence life-altering decisions and open up a world of opportunities. Here’s how:

  • Swift Housing and Job Advancements – An accelerated positive credit history can fast-track rental applications and job opportunities, as many view a great credit score as a testament to your responsibility.

Enhancing Financial Security and Flexibility

A strong credit foundation is instrumental in ensuring financial stability and preparing for unforeseen situations. Let’s explore:

  • Enhanced Financial Agility – A robust credit profile facilitates adept debt management and acts as a financial buffer during unforeseen events.
  • Immediate Peace of Mind – Rapidly achieving a good credit score can swiftly alleviate financial concerns and grant you a sense of security.
  • Boosted Financial Health – Speedy credit growth is a cornerstone of financial prosperity, furnishing you with the tools needed for both immediate success and long-term tranquility.

Long-Term Financial Vision

Accelerating your credit growth can have lasting effects on your future financial endeavors and aspirations. A closer look:

  • Accelerate Future Aspirations – Rapid credit building can be a catalyst for realizing long-term financial aspirations like property investments or securing retirement funds.
  • Prompt Long-Term Savings – Achieving a strong credit score quickly can lead to instant savings, courtesy of decreased interest rates on loans and credit.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Credit Building

Building credit is a nuanced journey that requires careful planning and attention to detail. While the path to a stellar credit score is rewarding, it’s also laden with potential missteps that can hinder your progress. In this section, we’ll highlight some common mistakes individuals often make during their credit-building endeavors and provide guidance on how to steer clear of these pitfalls. Whether you’re new to the world of credit or seeking to improve your score, understanding these pitfalls is crucial for a smoother journey ahead.

Late Payments and Their Impact

One of the most significant mistakes in credit building is consistently making late payments. Late payments can harm your credit score and significantly prolong the time it takes to establish good credit. To prevent this, consider setting up automatic payments or reminders to ensure timely payments.

The Dangers of High Credit Utilization

Another common mistake is having high credit utilization, which refers to the amount of credit you use compared to your total available credit limit. Maintaining high credit utilization signals lenders that you need to be more committed and responsible with your credit. On the other hand, keeping your credit utilization low demonstrates responsible credit management and can positively impact your credit-building journey.

The Consequences of Applying for Too Much Credit

While applying for multiple credit cards or loans quickly can be tempting, this can hurt your credit. A hard inquiry is placed on your credit report every time you apply for credit, which may harm your credit score. To avoid this, restrict your credit applications and only apply for credit when essential, avoiding unnecessary queries hindering your credit-building efforts.

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Final Thoughts

In personal finance, the importance of good credit cannot be overstated. The key unlocks favorable loan terms, housing choices, and employment opportunities. While building good credit is not an overnight process but an investment in your financial well-being and future. By understanding the factors at play, implementing prudent strategies, and avoiding common pitfalls, you can embark on a successful credit-building journey that leads to financial stability and countless opportunities. Remember, patience and consistency are your allies as you work toward achieving and maintaining good credit.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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