Many people believe that simply paying off debts will improve their credit score at once. This is not true, unfortunately. If you have experienced a bankruptcy, have been reported to a collection agency, or have had charge-offs, the record will remain on your credit report - even after you have repaid your debts and resolved the problem.
In fact, major problems such as a bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for seven or ten years, affecting your credit score. Even if your credit problems stem from simply not paying bills on time, it will take some time for the mark to fade from your credit report and for your
credit score to reflect your better repayment.
Paying off your debts and resolving problems will help your credit score (since overdue accounts
will be marked as “paid” on your credit report), but only time will remove the mark of the
problems from your record entirely.
This means that if you have faced a major setback such as a bankruptcy, you may have to wait to get the best interest rates on larger purchases. The good news is that the further away you are from a major financial problem, the less dire it appears.
For example, if you have declared bankruptcy, you can expect it to have a huge impact on your
credit score for the first two years, during which time you will have a hard time getting any credit at all.
However, after two or three years, if you have been paying your bills on time, then the
bankruptcy from two years ago will matter less because you have been rebuilding your credit.
Your credit will still suffer - but you will slowly be starting to work your way out of the credit problem. Persistence and good financial habits will get you there.
This means that if you plan on making a major purchase (such as a house of car) that may require a loan, you should start working on improving your credit well in advance - even years in
advance - of your actual purchase. This is because you simply will not have enough time to
radically alter your credit score in time if you wait too long.
Even if your credit score is already good, you may need to give yourself several months of
time to boost your credit rating enough to get the best loan rates.