• Best for: Those not ready to apply for a credit card on your own or are unable to provide proof of income
  • Time commitment: Six to 12 months or until you've built up your own credit and are financially prepared to handle your own credit card payments. 
  • Timeframe for results: It takes about six months to develop your own credit score.
  • Effectiveness:  High. Adding to someone else’s account is a solid strategy for quickly building your credit. It is most effective when the primary user's credit card has a long history of on-time payments, a high credit limit, and smart utilization. 
  • Finimpact score: 4


Great way to establish a credit history
Allows you to learn to manage your credit
You don’t have to get approved for your own credit card
Boosts any rewards or perks currently associated with the card
There is usually no fee associated with adding yourself to a card
Low effort
You don’t need to provide proof of income
Allows you to establish credit with no credit history


Assumes that the primary cardholder is responsible for their payment history and utilization
The primary cardholder will need to take full responsibility
Credit mishaps such as a missed payment or failure to pay the balance due can hurt your credit score, and the cardholder’s too
You won’t earn your own rewards or perks for using the card

If you have a trusted and financially responsible family member or friend, ask them to add you to their credit card as an authorized user. This allows you to take advantage of their good habits while you develop a credit history. However, before you do this, make sure you have the means to fulfill your end of the financial arrangement.

Apply for a credit builder loan

  • Best for: Those with no credit, poor credit, or those trying to build or improve their credit history
  • Time commitment: Most credit builder loans are for 12 to 24 months.
  • Timeframe for results: It takes about six months to develop your own credit score, but you will continue to see your score improve (and your credit history lengthen) throughout the duration of the loan.
  • Effectiveness:  Medium, provided you make monthly on-time payments and fulfill your loan obligations.
  • Finimpact score: 3


Qualification requirements are less stringent
Paying your bill on time helps you build your credit score
See a 60-point increase in your FICO score after the loan is paid off
After your loan is paid off, you can withdraw the funds you deposited to secure the loan


If you have a history of bounced checks, you might not be able to qualify
Late payments can lead to interest charges
Late payments may also harm your credit score
Not a good option if you have existing debt

Another great way to help you build your credit fast is to apply for a credit builder loan. A credit builder loan lets you take on a small debt and demonstrate that you're a reliable borrower. You can show you are a good borrower by making regular, on-time payments towards your loan. At the same time, this activity helps you develop a positive credit history. 

Get a secured credit card

  • Best for: Those who have never applied for credit and need to start from scratch
  • Time commitment: It takes roughly six to 18 months for you to become eligible for an unsecured credit card.
  • Timeframe for results: You can build credit with your secured credit card in as little as one or two months. Remember that building a good or excellent credit score will take months or even years.
  • Effectiveness:  High, provided you make monthly on-time payments and fulfill your credit card obligations.
  • Finimpact score: 3


Effective in helping you build credit
Great way to work your way up to an unsecured credit card
Use on-time payments to build your credit score


You will need to pay a refundable security deposit
High fees and interest rates
Low credit limits
Upfront cash is required

Getting a secured credit card can help you build good financial habits such as managing your utilization, paying your bills on time, and developing a good credit history. Secured cards work just like traditional credit cards, except things are slightly different on the back end. With a secured credit card, you pay a cash deposit upfront to guarantee your credit line. As you make your payments and demonstrate good behaviors, you can work towards that secured credit card becoming unsecured. This process takes about six to 18 months.

Get credit for utility and streaming services payments

  • Best for: Those who have been making on-time cell phone, utility, and/or service payments for several months to several years.
  • Time commitment: It only takes about five minutes to sign up.
  • Timeframe for results: You may see an instant increase in your FICO score from Experian.
  • Effectiveness:  Medium, provided you make on-time monthly payments to your providers.
  • Finimpact score: 3


Experian Boost is free
Years of on-time payments could help you increase your score.
You may see an increase in your FICO score almost instantly
Even if it doesn't help you, it won't hurt you
The tool can give you extra credit history if you haven't had enough to be assigned a score.


Your credit score may not improve as some payments are ineligible, and not all scores are affected by Experian Boost
You won't see a difference in your TransUnion or Equifax scores (it only works with your Experian score).
You have to share personal data to create your account and search for qualifying payments

Many people have monthly expenses and obligations that don’t help build their credit. As an example, if you are one of the 230.7 million Netflix subscribers, wouldn’t you want your good payment history to Netflix to help you build your credit? Of course, you would, but it won’t happen independently. If you want your mobile phone, electrical, gas bill, Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Disney+, and Starz payments to count towards your credit history, sign up for a service such as Experian Boost that lets you get credit for paying monthly utility, cell phone, and streaming service bills on time.

Make your payments on time every month

  • Best for: All borrowers.
  • Time commitment: Ongoing. Paying your bills on time every month is a lifelong responsibility.
  • Timeframe for results: Your credit score will improve the longer you make your payments on time. However, failing to make a payment (and not catching up within 30 days) can cause your score to plummet by as much as 180 points.
  • Effectiveness:  High. 35% of your credit score is based on your on-time payment record.
  • Finimpact score: 5


Help improve your credit scores by 35% - a late payment can impact your credit score by as much as 180 points
Worry less
Avoid penalties from your lender


None - paying your bills on time every month and maintaining a positive payment history is a must if you want to build a good credit score

You may think we sound like a broken record, especially if you have read some of our other articles. The most important thing you can do to improve your credit (and build it) is to pay your bills on time every month. So whether you are paying on a personal loan for fair credit, have a secured credit card (or a traditional credit card), have an automobile loan, etc., you must pay your bills on time every month.

Pay attention to your credit card utilization

  • Best for: All borrowers.
  • Time commitment: Ongoing. Managing your spending and credit card utilization is a lifelong responsibility.
  • Timeframe for results: Ongoing.
  • Effectiveness:  High. 30% of your credit score is based on your healthy credit utilization.
  • Finimpact score: 4


Managing your utilization (keep your balance to credit limit at 30% or below) has a big impact on your credit score


It can be easy to make purchases with a credit card, easily driving your utilization over 30%

Some borrowers mistakenly believe that if they are approved for a credit card for $5,000, they can spend to the credit limit as long as they make their minimum monthly payments. But while that responsible payment history can help your score by as much as 35%, your credit card utilization is almost as important. Credit utilization refers to the amount you owe on a credit card compared to your credit limit. Creditors want a credit balance to credit limit ratio of 30% or below.

This said, the combination of keeping your spending well below your credit limit – using less than 10% of your available credit while maintaining other good credit habits like paying on time could benefit your FICO score.

Take control of your debt 

Have you ever opened a new credit card, only to max it out in just a few months? That high credit limit can be lucrative, especially if you want new tools for the garage, are planning a wedding, or want that new part of Loubitons. And if this has happened to you, don’t fret, as you are not alone. According to Experian, consumer debt is on the rise. And according to CNBC, the average credit card balance among Americans is $5,805. If you take that balance and pay just the minimum monthly payment, it could take 17 years to pay it off, costing you over $8,000 in interest (based on a 20% interest rate).

The statistics are alarming

Those statistics can be alarming, but they highlight many Americans' financial situation, and many are struggling to find their way out. If your balances have gotten too high and are out of hand, now is the time to take control of your debt.

Introducing the snowball and avalanche approach to paying off your debt

  • Best for: Those paying too much each month for their credit and need to lower their utilization.
  • Time commitment: Varies. The amount of time to pay off your debt will vary based on your debt and the amount of money you can put towards it each month.
  • Timeframe for results: Varies based on the above. However, your credit score will improve once your credit card utilization is under 30%.
  • Effectiveness:  High. Getting in control of your debt demonstrates good financial behavior and can set you on a path to better control of your finances down the road.
  • Finimpact score: 3


Gives you more financial security
Paying off a loan before it matures can save you money
Your credit score will improve
You will have more freedom from debt


You could starve an investment that is growing at a rapid rate if you swap investment payments for bigger debt payments
You may be hit with an early payoff penalty (always read the fine print)

When paying off your debt quickly, there are two primary strategies to consider. The snowball method recommends you pay off the smallest of your loans as quickly as possible. Then, move on to the next balance and do the same. The avalanche approach, on the other hand, focuses on paying the loan with the highest interest rate first. Both debt-payment methods are highly effective and can help you pay off debt and save on interest. You may also wish to consider debt repayment strategies, such as a debt consolidation loan, balance transfer credit cards, or a debt management plan through a credit counselor.

Seek credit counseling if you need it

  • Best for: Borrowers who feel out of control with their credit and finances.
  • Time commitment: High. Working with a credit counselor takes time and commitment.
  • Timeframe for results: Debt management plans, on average, take three to five years to complete.
  • Effectiveness:  Medium, especially if trying to improve your credit score quickly.
  • Finimpact score: 2


Improve your financial literacy
Learn how to budget and save money
Consolidate your outstanding debt into a single account and pay it off faster and at a lower interest rate
No harassing collections calls


Negatively impacts your credit score
Accounts will be frozen
Negatively affects your ability to apply for new credit while you are receiving counseling services
Only 25% of consumers that enroll in these programs complete them successfully
You must enroll all eligible debts

Sometimes, even the best of us may need assistance getting in control of our finances. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, it might be time to seek help from a credit counselor. Credit counseling helps borrowers learn more about consumer credit, money management, debt management, and budgeting. Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or The Federal Trade Commission to find a reputable credit counselor.


What to Avoid When You Want to Build Your Credit

We’ve provided several recommendations on how to build your credit. But there are also things you should not do when you are trying to build or improve that credit score.

  • Failing to establish credit in the first place - Review our list of recommendations to find ways to build credit, a credit builder loan, a secured credit card, or being added as an authorized user to someone else’s credit card.
  • Making late payments - This will impact your credit score by 35%.
  • Using too much credit - Keep your credit card utilization under 30%, and don’t take out more credit than you can manage.
  • Applying for too much credit all at once - If you already have a credit score, every time to apply for a new loan, such as a personal loan for poor credit, it results in a hard credit inquiry. This can ding your credit report five points each time and sits on your credit report for up to two years.
  • Using only credit cards - Though credit cards are a great way to help you build your credit, your credit mix is also important and accounts for 10% of your credit score. Shoot for a healthy credit mix, including a mortgage or lease, automobile loan, student loan, and one or two credit cards.
  • Canceling old credit card accounts - It might feel like the right thing to do to close out an old account once it is paid off and if you no longer plan to use it. But, the bureaus look at your utilization as a whole, which means they look at the total credit limit you have amongst all of your credit cards. And likewise, they look at your total credit card balances. So, when you close out a credit card, it can quickly damage your utilization.

How Is Your Credit Score Determined?

As we indicated previously, your FICO credit score is calculated using the following criteria:

  • Payment history: 35%
  • Amounts owed: 30%
  • Length of credit history: 15%
  • Credit mix: 10%
  • New credit: 10% 

Though we typically provide recommendations based on the FICO score model, it is important also to understand the VantageScore which is used by many lenders, landlords, and financial institutions to determine your creditworthiness. The three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) developed a new algorithm to produce the VantageScore in 2006, providing competition against the FICO score.

Your VantageScore utilizes a very similar approach.

  • Payment history: 40%
  • Depth of credit: 21%
  • Credit utilization: 20%
  • Balances: 11%
  • Recent credit: 5%
  • Available credit: 3% 


Is it Possible Not to Have a Credit Score?

First, you should know that having a zero score is impossible, as the scoring model falls between 300 and 850. However, it is possible to have no score, meaning no number is tied to your credit profile. You may not appear in the FICO or VantageScore scoring models if you've never had a credit card or loan or haven't used credit in a long time.

Here are the five reasons why you may not have a credit score.

  • You have never used traditional credit accounts
  • You have not used credit in more than 24 months
  • You're young (under 18) or have no experience with credit
  • You're a recent immigrant (because you have never before applied for or used credit in the U.S.)
  • You've only recently applied for credit for the first time (it takes about six months to establish a credit score)


How To Maintain a Good Credit Score

The tips to maintain a good credit score conveniently coincide with some of the best ways to improve your credit. After all, obtaining a good credit score can help you be eligible for personal loans for good credit, which come with more lucrative interest rates than loans for poor or fair credit. Here is what you need to do.

  • Pay your bills on time, all the time
  • Keep your credit card utilization under 30%
  • Be patient while building your credit history - it takes time
  • Check your credit report annually at and dispute any errors that you come across
  • Build and establish credit in the first place by trying one or more of the recommendations provided at the beginning of this article 
  • Remember that building good credit is a lifelong journey that requires patience and perseverance


Final Word

By now you should know the answer to the question, how long does it take to build good credit. The answer simply varies based on your unique situation and the good financial habits that you follow. The best way to build your credit is to try one of the recommendations we suggested, such as a credit builder loan, a secured credit card, or being added to a trust family member’s credit card as an authorized user. And once you have started to develop that credit history, be sure to pay your bills on time and pay attention to how much you spend.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Can you build credit in a month?

Building a credit score from scratch takes about six months. And, if you have fair credit (a score between 580 to 669), it is possible to jump to a good credit score (670 to 739) in a month if you practice good behaviors such as paying your bills on time, keeping credit card utilization under 30%, and building a good credit mix.

Can you build a 700 credit score in 30 days?

If you already have a credit score of 650 or higher, it may be possible to build your credit score to 700 in 30 days.  But, if your credit score is 500 and you want to increase your score by 200 points in just 30 days, that will be a difficult feat. The name of the game when building your credit score is patience. To improve your credit score, pay your bills on time, spend wisely, and don’t take on more credit than you can manage.

How fast can you build credit in 6 months?

Following the recommendations above, such as getting added to a family member’s credit card as an authorized user, taking out a credit builder loan, or signing up for a secured credit card, will help you build credit in six months. However, getting a good credit score will take longer.

Can I build good credit in 3 months?

You can increase your credit score in three months by paying down debt, disputing errors on your credit report, keeping your credit card utilization under control, and paying your bills on time. But, if you are building a credit score from scratch or have a poor credit score (300 to 579), it will likely take more than three months to get a good credit score. Building a good credit score takes time and patience.

How long does it take to build good credit?

Building a credit score from the get-go can take about six months. Building a good credit score takes longer and requires you to pay your bills on time, stay on top of your credit card utilization, and avoid taking on more credit than you can manage. 

About the Authors

Ann Bloomquist

Written by: Ann Schreiber

Seasoned Copywriter & Content Marketer

Ann have been a marketer and a content writer for over 20 years. She have worked for financial institutions such as FICO, Experian, and BlueChip Financial as a director of content and brand marketing.

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